ARIAS : the first two months of research

ARIAS, the Amsterdam Research Institute of the Arts and Sciences, is a new platform for research in the intersection of art and science. It aims to foster collaborative research between AHK, HvA, Gerrit Rietveld Academy, UvA and VU Amsterdam. Being situated in the capital of the Netherlands/the metropolitan area of Amsterdam, the researchers working within the network have an international orientation. The platform for ARIAS aims at bringing the research within the network together and stimulating the funding of research in five research clusters, “‘The city as a site of research”, “Art, culture & health”, “Art, research and education”, “Art and ways of knowing” and “Art and Social Relevance”.

Many researchers and designers from different universities collaborate on this project, aiming to create a strong network, that will contribute to raising awareness about interdisciplinary projects and that could increase collaboration between scholars from various backgrounds. Currently, two alumni designers from Rietveld Academy are working on creating a website for ARIAS; Jeroen Boomgaard (Lector Art & Public Space at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie) and Flora Lysen (media-researcher at UvA) focus on coordinating the network of researchers and discovering new projects that could become a part of ARIAS.

The main goal of the PublishingLab research is to find new digital ways of raising awareness for the research conducted within the network:

How can an online publication series enhance the visibility of a network of Art and Sciences universities?

At the moment the PublishingLab is also focusing on finding out about which features would make the ARIAS website, as well as the publication series, attractive, and what aspects are necessary and desired by the researchers.

My work on this project has started with conducting comparative research and interviews with the representatives of different projects within ARIAS.

Comparative research

I have started working on ARIAS project from conducting comparative research among platforms and networks similar to ARIAS in order to observe common the features in terms of the design of the websites. The platforms taken into consideration were networks of researchers, working on interdisciplinary projects connected to art, science and technology (Waag society), as well as artistic research networks (EARN). As a result of such analysis, I have identified several key features of research networks websites. Identifying such characteristics allowed to gain insights about how the website should look like, how to make it more engaging and interactive.

the comparative analysis 


The aspects that stood out, and therefore, could be considered relevant were the following:

  • Visuals & video content to make the website more engaging
  • Blog: regular updates & information about new projects
  • Abstracts and short descriptions per project, mostly without academic publications or an “archive” section
  • Visual reports displaying different stages of research and the process of research
  • Newsletters and/or social media engagement
  • Information about events: workshops, lectures and exhibitions
  • Links to the websites of partners/projects they collaborate with/researchers


In order to gain a better understanding of what are the current projects within ARIAS, and how do the representatives of these projects plan to disseminate information about their projects on the ARIAS website we I have conducted three interviews with the leaders of three projects from three ARIAS themes. The themes taken into consideration were :

  • Art and Ways of Knowing
  • Art, Research and Education
  • The City as a Site of Research

The first interview was with Sabine Niederer, who is the facilitator of the project “Making Climate Visible”, that started at the Digital Methods Initiative summer school that took place in summer 2017. This project is related to the structure “Arts and Ways of Knowing” due to its methodological nature.The team consisted of a group of researchers from UvA, HvA,  Polytechnic University of Milan, as well as individuals from other international universities; researchers initiating this project were from the University of Sheffield who worked on a similar project called “Make climate social”: social media representation of climate change. “Making Climate Visible” is a project that aims to find out if Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, and Tumblr, and Google image search have distinct visual vernaculars for the issue of climate change.

Sabine Niederer believes that ARIAS “should join forces because many individuals from a variety of cultural backgrounds and fields are working on interesting and innovative projects in the partner universities. A platform like ARIAS can be an internal catalyst of working together and showing what happens in different universities”. Moreover, she makes several suggestions regarding the ARIAS website, such as talking about the fact that website should embrace the diversity of projects and illustrate differences between them while still presenting them on one platform. Also, Sabine discusses the importance of the newsletter to keep the members informed about the events, new projects, as well as other initiatives.


The research output of the project “Making Climate Visible”


The second interview I conducted was with the leader of the project “Exhibition Designer of the 21st century” Bernadette Schrandt. The goal of the project is to get a better idea of how exhibition design is created, how the exhibitions are created, and how visitors respond to that. This project aims to find out more about the design process and its effect on visitors, especially in a museum setting; the questions of participation and visitor experience are crucial. Bernadette also suggested several features regarding the design website, such as making the website visual, creating a newsletter, as well as providing users with a direct access to the publications.


 Screenshot with the description of the project “Exhibition Designer 21st-century project”


Finally, I had an engaging conversation with Curdin Tones, who is working on a variety of projects in Tschlin village in Switzerland, where he and his research group are creating different interventions. One of ARIAS projects he is running is called “The procession of the ear”, it is conducted in collaboration with UvA and Gerrit Rietveld Academy.


The further steps in my research would be focusing on applying the insights I got from the interviews and thinking about how these findings can be translated into an online publication. Before that, however, I aspire to analyze projects discussed in the interviews in more detail and figure out how the crucial aspects of those projects can be shown on both the website and within the publication.