I’m thinking about the ways in which our disciplines are, in themselves a sort of place, and how from these disciplines we construct actual places whose circumstances and conditions shape the ways in which we produce our work. We’re all familiar with critique of the ways in which we are disciplined—for we have been disciplined in our fields (whether art, history, sociology, etc.) and, as part of this disciplining project, we have all read Foucault. This is both troubling (that we are all subjected to the same canon, perhaps as a right of passage) and comforting (in that we share something). This is the nature of disciplines—they provide a haven that can easily, at times, also feel like a cage. We have a tendency to talk about and enact certain forms of transdisciplinary work (this panel, for example)—forms themselves that have limits and boundaries similar to those of our disciplines. We are wary of going too far when engaging across fields. We tend to avoid the risks associated with ‘going native’ across these boundaries—risks that always come with being in drag. These risks are posed not only to ourselves, as practitioners, but to the fields to which we belong. And maybe the real problem here is that we belong, that we are ‘placed’ (by ourselves, by others) and we forget that “field” can also act as a verb.
When, as part of my research, I interview social scientists and artists about their methods and practices, I try to visit them in their studio or office. I take pictures and ask questions about these ‘sites of production.’ Practitioners organize their spaces differently. They build structures in which to work and in doing this, cultivate (like a farmer might do with his field) the conditions of production, shaping what can and what cannot happen in this place—how it is attuned to some practices and not others. Bruno Latour aptly calls these places “construction sites”:
[T]he great advantage of visiting construction sites is that they offer an ideal vantage point…The same is true of artistic practice. The ‘making of’ any enterprise—films, skyscrapers, facts, political meetings, initiation rituals, cooking—offers a view that is sufficiently different from the official one. Not only does it lead you backstage and introduce you to the skills and knacks of practitioners, it also provides a rare glimpse of what it is for a thing to emerge out of inexistence…Even more important, when you are guided to any construction site you are experiencing the troubling and exhilarating feeling that things could be different, or at least that they could still fail—a feeling never so deep when faced with the final product, no matter how beautiful or impressive it may be.
The construction sites of the social scientists present themselves as sites where knowledge is produced. Facts. Empirical insight. A desk that functions not only a workplace, but also as a spatial divide that creates distance (and hierarchy). This is typically an office with artifacts and books that conveys (an area of) expertise. The construction sites of the artists assert themselves as sites of creativity. This is typically a studio with works visibly in progress. A space of experimentation. Expression. But, what I think, is that these are both (potentially) places of creativity. (Alternately, both are also places of knowledge production.) These need not exist as discrete places that foster very different types of production. For, like the social scientist, artists construct concepts, make populations visible, and articulate experience. Like the artist, social scientists traffic in the imaginative, perform their work into being, and offer new ways of seeing and experiencing the world.
What I might advocate then, is that we practice a little sympathetic magic. Maybe the social scientist could work in a studio, trying out some new practices. Maybe the correspondence and imitation this would involve could lead us to reconsider our procedures and broaden our repertoires. Or, if the idea of magic seems a bit strong, perhaps we could figure out how, in Deleuze’s terms, the social scientist might enter the “zone of proximity” with the artist. Here, there is an encounter with the other in a zone of creation. Where resulting creations are not the possession of those in the encounter. Instead, creation is the shared event of becoming that is generated by proximity. In proximity we no longer occupy a stable identity but are folded into movement and a position that is nomadic. This sounds like an interesting place for artists and social scientist to meet.
 Bruno Latour (2005) Reassembling the Social. Oxford University Press, p. 89.