THE USE OF NARRATION AND ART IN THE PUBLIC COMMUNICATION OF SCIENCE
Working as a laboratory for unconventional scientific communication, in the last decade the INFN Communications Office has developed innovative formats of public events, in which the performing arts are intertwined with the scientific narrative. This process was born with the goal of involving a wide variety of audiences with Particle Physics, Cosmology and Technology and increase the awareness in the research and innovation processes lead by INFN and the scientific community as a whole. The underlying idea is that a narrative approach in public events, accompanied by experiences solicited by the artistic language, can help the audience to unveil connections in the interpretation of reality, thus opening unexpected scenarios for the acquisition of knowledge. If well designed and build on verified content, these formats can offer tactics to properly engage non-expert audiences.
Case studies of innovative formats are presented, as “Cosmic Tale", a conference-show about the universe birth and evolution, offered to more than 6000 people in the period from 2016 to 2019 (7 live replicas). The narrative structure of Cosmic Tale is based on the intertwining of dialogues, videos, readings and music, and moves along a well-defined storyboard, supported also by a cartoon story. More recently, the INFN and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) experimented with a format based on monologues about the same story - the first detection of gravitational waves from the coalescence of neutron stars - told from three different points of view (space satellites, terrestrial telescopes and gravitational wave detectors) and interlaced with jazz music played by professional and well-known musicians. If consciously integrated into the narrative, artistic performances can represent an unconventional voice about science, which involve artists, scientists and the public in the definition of a common storytelling and, ultimately, of a new multicultural language. Critical aspects of the conference-show formats are also presented in order to keep the discussion open on how they can be evaluated and aligned to societal needs and expectations.
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