Alex Coles: The Transdisciplinary Studio

TEXT BY 撰文 x Peng Zuqiang 彭祖強

“We have entered a post-post-studio age.” Announced on the cover Alex Coles book The Transdisciplinary Studio, since ‘Post-studio’ was only a novelty in the 60s in the art world. He identified the term ‘Transdisciplinary Studio’, as a model which deliberately crosses the boundary between disciplines: art, architecture, design, and etc.

So what is ‘Transdisciplinary’ then? It is not multidisciplinary which adopts different disciplines simultaneously; it is also different from Interdisciplinary, which combines different disciplines and attempts to create something new. Transdisciplinary is supposed to transcend the borders of disciplines and therefore practice from a degree level zero. It is “a space that is at once between, across, and beyond all disciplines” which exceeds the forms of multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary practices.

“我們已經邁入了後後工作室時代。” 亞歷克斯·科爾斯的著作《跨領域工作室》的封面上如是寫著,所謂‘後工作室’也僅僅在上世紀六十年代才算作新潮。而科爾斯要談論的是‘跨領域工作室’,一種融合不同學科門類(包括藝術、設計和建築等)的工作室創作方式。



The prime example is without a doubt Studio Olafur Eliasson. Eliasson’s practice is renowned for the intersection of science, architecture and fine art. Through case studies and interviews, the book unfolds more details of the daily running of Eliasson’s studio: It is a structure that accommodates not only artist, but also curators, researchers, teachers, and, chefs. The Studio Olafur Eliasson is closer to an art institution rather than a traditionally defined studio with only artist and the assistants. A quick glimpse on its website reveals each members’ role and positions, its specification is nothing smaller than an art institution.

As its head of research and communications Anna Engberg-Pedersen suggested in the book “What we do is essentially art and what we are borrowing from other fields – words, molecules, whatever – we insert into art practice, transforming them and putting them to sue in a way that expands what we are producing in the field of art.” She did not over-emphasis the role of the studio’s ‘transdisciplinarity.’ Instead, she affirms the necessities of having disciplines.

書中最典型的案例就是奧拉維爾·埃利亞森(Olafur Eliasson)的工作室。埃利亞森的創作一向以跨越科學、建築和藝術而聞名。通過一些案例分析和采訪,詳盡描述了埃利亞森工作室的日常運作模式:這是一個不僅僅屬於藝術家的工作室,與之共事的還包括了策展人、研究員、教師,沒錯,還有廚師。與其說是一個藝術工作室,埃利亞森工作室更像是一個藝術機構。在其網站上粗略一看,便可以了解每位成員的具體職位,這其中的分工層次不亞於一個藝術機構內部分工的詳盡程度。

正如工作室研究和媒體部總監安娜·安格堡-皮德森(Anna Engberg-Pedersen)在采訪中所說:“我們所做的說到底仍是藝術,我們從其他學科借鑒語言和元素,並將他們註入到藝術創作之中,把他們重新轉換整合,從而拓寬我們對藝術創作的定義。“ 她並沒有刻意強調工作室中跨界性的意義,反倒肯定了不同學科獨立的重要性。

In the series of interviews with members from the Studio Olafur Eliasson. Coles did not interview Eliasson himself, but chose to talk to other members in the studio who hold various positions such as the archivist, the curator, the architect. As a result, readers might get a better sense of the supposed Transdisciplinarity of the studio. This can be considered as a deliberate attempt to overcome the prioritization of its central figure over its other members. Cole’s attentiveness to the literary conventions is also indicated in the introduction where he referred to developments in different genres of literature such as art criticism, ethnographical writings, and new Journalism, all relevant references for the writing structure of this book. It is obvious that the publication itself is experimenting with another new way of knowledge production.


In the second half of the book, Coles interviewed some other well-known figures in the art world, from the artist-turned-designer Vito Acconci, to the curator Maria Lind. There are also some unexpected interviewees, including anthropologist James Clifford. However, the inclusion of Clifford was not only to investigate on the cross-section between art and ethnography, but also to diversify the book’s very own ‘transdisciplinarity.’

在書的下半部分中,科爾斯采訪了藝術圈中的其他一些知名人士:從藝術和設計創作兼容並包的維托·阿肯錫(Vito Acconci),到策展人瑪利亞·林德(Maria Lind),但其中也有一些意料之外的受訪者,比如人類學家詹姆斯·克利弗德(James Cliffod),而采訪克利弗德不僅僅是為了討論藝術和民族誌之間的聯系,同樣也是在拓寬此書自身的‘跨領域性’。

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