Interview of Carsten Janke and Jérôme Pernoud

In 2019, we started a scientific outreach project inititated by Carsten Janke, team leader at Institut Curie, in collaboration with Jérôme Pernoud, Head of the graphic arts school of Paris. Learn more about this initiative.

Meet Carsten Janke, team leader at the Institut Curie and Jérôme Pernoud, EPSAA school director


C Janke and J Pernoud


  • How did you get the idea for this project and how was it initiated?

CJ: The initial idea came from my work with Renaud Chabrier. Renaud is a graphic artist and we were working together to use hand drawing combined with 3D animation techniques to explore novel ways to visualise scientific concepts. If you are confronted with scientific data, you quickly realise that the images used to represent these data are far from intuitive. Moreover, scientific representations are often at different size scales, which makes it hard to compare them with each other. Using artistic techniques allows us to connect these different dimensions, and thereby our concepts, into coherent representations that are broadly accessible by other scientists, but also by the lay public.

The idea to make such approaches more accessible to a larger number of scientists, and to allow young art students to be for the first time in contact with research gave rise to the project with the EPSAA. 

  • What do you think this project brings to researchers who participate and to research in general?

CJ: For the participating labs, this is a unique experience. The work with the EPSAA students will stimulate them to think about how the public perceives their research, and how they can present their work to the public. They will also learn what different artistic techniques can be used to represent scientific results, and it might inspire them to try themselves. 
For research in general, it is essential to communicate. It might come as a surprise, but even communication between researchers from different fields is difficult, and conceptualisation of their work could make an important contribution to facilitate scientific collaboration across disciplines. Most importantly, scientists need to communicate to the lay public.

In a world with a pandemic and a climate crisis, people search for answers to the questions that worry them on a daily basis. It is important to show what science can do to solve these problems, and it is even more important to communicate to the lay public how the discovery process works, and how many different approaches are needed to assure scientific results. If we fail to deliver this message, we might lose the trust of the public.


  • What is EPSAA, and could you tell us a bit more about your collaborative projects?

JP: Public school of Paris, EPSAA is an institution entirely focused on training in visual communication, in the broadest sense of the term, and integration into professional life. EPSAA offers a variety of training courses aimed at a wide range of people wishing to benefit from a professional education: Preparatory classes, Advanced Graphic Arts Course, Validation of Prior Learning, Post Diploma Digital Media Lab, MOOC, evening classes for adults.

EPSAA's trademark, its own identity, is embodied in the human dimension that characterizes it. A school first and foremost professional, EPSAA has forged close ties with the world of work. Its expertise is recognized by the companies that allow the integration of graduate students.

Art directors, graphic designers, creative directors, web designers, typographers, illustrators, etc., EPSAA teachers as agency or freelance professionals, are themselves connected with the realities of creation in all its forms. Finally, the alumni also testify to this attachment to a school that is above all focused on human and professional life.


  • Why did you decide to do this scientific outreach project in particular?

JP: The pedagogy of EPSAA is partly based on the project by regularly proposing to its students concrete, innovative cases that put them face to face with the realities of their future job as artistic directors. Another of the singularities of the training is the place given to the practice of drawing in teaching.

This project of scientific popularization thus responds to these two strong axes of the school's pedagogy and is a very complete experience for a future artistic director of the EPSAA.

It allows to solicit a synthetic mind, the ability to analyze and translate complex processes into a universal visual language that can be understood by all thanks to drawing.

In addition, the opportunity to visit research sites to meet scientists is a great opportunity for students. They thus discover that their future profession is a profession of encounters that will lead them to discover very diverse universes.


  • What do you think this particular project brings to the students?

JP: For this particular project, under the benevolent authority of the researchers and teachers, we decided that the student would carry and manage the application autonomously and this in all its components.

By making direct contact with the researchers, the student will have to solicit them, organize meetings, submit his creative proposals to them, pilot the graphic design, exchange, bounce back and follow up until the final validated production.

This experience is therefore a real opportunity for the student to discover the extent of his future responsibilities, as he will soon do in his professional life as an artistic director.