Global Threads

A Virtual Faculty of Art and Science

Global Threads is a project of MARCEL, a permanent international interactive network of art, science and technical institutions and laboratories dedicated to artistic, educational and cultural experimentation, exchange between art and science and collaboration between art and industry using high bandwidth telecommunication technologies.

Global Threads is a distributed, physical-digital environment that brings artists, scientists, and other creative thinkers together for creative explorations of alternative ways of knowing the world — models of reality.  While art and science can be seen as two ways of understanding our world, they are actually departure points along a fluid multi-dimensional continuum of knowledge.

Global Threads focuses on the blurring of the boundary between art and science by presenting events during the academic year featuring artists and scientists grappling with the same theme.  The selected artist and scientist are invited to participate on the same virtual stage over the high bandwith network, presenting separately, from each of their points of view, the same topic.  By giving both an artistic and scientific approach to it, we expect to open new avenues of understanding of the topic and how it fits into the overall fabric of contemporary society – how these ideas are being absorbed into our culture.  Each event is choreographed by a distinguished thinker – the faculty member – working with a team to assist in launching a particular thread.  As the threads are revealed, we expect participants to weave them into fabrics enabling them to better understand contemporary reality.

Central to the program is the classic dichotomy between art and science that has long informed our thinking about the world and the universe, and our place in them.  Global Threads not only seeks to explore the potential connections and synergy between art and science, but also to catalyse dialogue between artists and scientists and other creative individuals, and to innovate new and alternative models of knowing more relevant to contemporary intellectual and creative activity.

The Global Threads project was inaugurated in November and December, 2002 with pilot presentations by the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot and the composer Jean-Claude Risset funded by the Arts Council of England.  Both addressed the question of “structure” and the changing way we understand organisational structures at this point in history.

The talks were transmitted over the MARCEL network to 12 institutions in four countries.  The MARCEL project with 125 members in 20 countries has as its objective bringing art, culture and education to the very high speed networks, occupying the newest communciation space it represents <>.

The project is now looking for substantial funding, estimated at $3.5 million over five years to build the faculty, develop production methods and procedures and move the project to a self-sustaining financial base.  The project entails building the actual faculty, developing the virtual and physical platforms for the interactive transmissions, putting in place a substantial archiving resource with international organisations and a pedagogical evaluation element building on the MARCEL Observatory at the London School of Economics.  Further information available from:

  • – Don Foresta, International Coordination of MARCEL –