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Science and art


blamski
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as an artist who works closely with science and scientists i'm interested to hear people's views on how the two relate to each other or how each can learn from the other. or if, indeed, they have anything to learn from each other.

 

i have been involved in a lot of debate where the general consensus is that art and science are basically similar in practice but that art looks to open up more questions whereas science tends to look for answers. another view is that science is tied to a much more rigorous methodology than art, where an experiment has to be repeated many times before results can be accepted and before the obligatory process of writing and publishing papers can begin. many people see that artists enjoy a lot more freedom in this respect, we never have to repeat an experiment, or a project, unless we really want to - and no one can really disprove our findings because art is objective.

 

many artists are suspicious of science that represents the 'science industry' - a system in which research is coloured by political demands and high stakes funding. we wonder if 'pure' research can exist in such an environment and whether outcomes will only match what was hoped for or predicted. however, in many ways art will follow a similar course - few artists will admit it but we will often bend our research or methodologies to fit what it was we were hoping to express in the first place.

 

therefore, maybe it is true to say that 'pure' art and 'pure' science share a very similar territory and, in fact, may be very difficult to distinguish between in certain lights. maybe it is when either one becomes applied that we begin to see the differences and that those differences become amplified. maybe we need to seperate process from outcomes in this instance. if we only view art and science in terms of process then we probably do have very similar disciplines.

 

i'm very lucky in that i am currently working alongside a microbiologist within a university. he has a fair amount of free time outside of course obligations and is quite happy to indulge me in blue sky research and experiments for the fun of it, to see what happens. obviously the scientific rigour is there but the process is fairly playful and we engage in interesting debate about this very subject.

 

i'd be interested to hear the views of others on this subject as this sketchy introduction only scratches the surface of a complex issue.

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im in the same boat as you.i wonder if my art might be akin to those early attempts at flight that were awkward and quirky and had nothing to do with aerodynamics.some of them are beautiful,having to do with penrose tylings,drawings i got from topology books and books on knot theory.but i dont know what they have to do with factual theories or even if that matters.maybe they have more to do with science fiction

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i think the point about science fiction is interesting and important. it may be true to a degree that artists are creating science fiction responses with their work, but the extension of this argument is that artists that produce physical work from scientific methodologies are creating science fact.

 

work that is more illustrative or that does not question or critique the process involved, or that doesn't extend the scientific practice to generate new and unexpected results would probably fall into this area. that's not to say the work is any less valid.

 

my own personal view is that while art that celebrates or illustrates science can be beautiful and inspirational in many ways it is the work that directly questions, challenges and/or critiques scientific practice that is more interesting and more likely to stimulate debate. there are a number of artists working in this area such as the tissue culture and art project, symbiotica, adam zaretsky and eduardo kac to name just a few...

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I have no hard opinion on this issue but about a month or so ago I visited a gallery at the University of Oslo where they displayed scientific data presented as art. It was both brilliant and stunning - like how plants grow in micro-gee, for example.

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now there's another interesting comment - you say that the data was presented as art. in your opinion, was it art? is the beauty and wonder of scientific imaging enough to qualify it as art or does it need something more?

 

Huh...I managed to post without finishing what I was going to write. :reallyconfused:

 

Yes, it was art. Or should I say I perceived it as art. It was moving to see the beauty of the data, which was presented in various ways (like samples of tests, parts of charts, fractals, photos of samples etc). It had a certain "depth" to it that made it something else than mere scientific results - it didn't need anything else (for me, at least).

 

If the data had been plain and regular bar charts however, I would not have called it art. The presentation was of course important.

 

I think science and art can go hand in hand. One can be used to stimulate the other. In fact, I think they are important to each other.

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Well, you guys have brought up a subject very dear to my heart: “Arts and Sciences”. I have always (since I was three or four years old) been very interested in exactly what “words” meant. I don’t remember exactly the date that I came to feel I understood the difference between art and science but, from that date I have seen no evidence that my conclusion was wrong. If you can come up with a flaw in my definitions I would very much like to hear it. In my opinion, if someone can explain exactly how to accomplish a given result in every detail, accomplishing that result is a science. On the other hand, if the result can only be achieved through diligent practice and training, accomplishing that result is an art.

 

That is the very essence of my division of “rational” thought into two different components: what I call “logical” thought and what I call “squirrel” thought (no insult intended). See my thread on “Defining the nature of rational discussion!” This is a pertinent quote taken from that original post.

On the other hand, if you want to do science, you should remember that even your most cherished squirrel decisions could be wrong. Even you guys who are not "crackpots" should remember that. A lot of science is done in the total absence of logical thought and that has to be so; but scientists should not forget that fact. If they do, science folds over to religion. It may work great, but that does not mean it is valid. Think about that next time you see a "poor squirrel decision".
The real essence of that paragraph is the fact that developing a science is an “Art”. It is only after the particular piece of science is developed that it becomes part of the field called “Science”. Most scientists either teach or try develop new science; both activities should be technically classified as "Arts". People who "do" science are called engineers!

 

Have fun -- Dick

 

Knowledge is Power

and any power can be abused.

The most popular abuse of the power of knowledge is to use it to hide stupidity

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Most scientists either teach or try develop new science; both activities should be technically classified as "Arts". People who "do" science are called engineers!

 

At the risk of drowning in semantics, I would argue that teaching science is not art because teaching EXPLAINS science and often times includes tangible examples to demonstrate what is being taught. I consider art to have some component of creation and/or imagination.

 

Reiterating previously discovered knowledge is not art imho.

 

I also think that people who "do" science should be called "scientists". I perform Ecology work for a living, but would never call myself an engineer. :reallyconfused:

(even though I work for an engineering firm :throwtomatoes:)

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Science and art are both creations of the human mind. One is more objective, reproducable, and consistent. The other is more subjective, unique, and individualized. They both are for interpreting, sharing, and exploring.

 

As an aside, one could go on to argue that even objectivity must first pass through the filters of subjectivity, so it's all art to some degree. :doh:

 

Science is an approach. Art is an interpretation.

 

 

:turtle:

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Science and art are both creations of the human mind.
indeed
One is more objective, reproducable, and consistent. The other is more subjective, unique, and individualized. They both are for interpreting, sharing, and exploring.

That is absolutely poetic!

As an aside, one could go on to argue that even objectivity must first pass through the filters of subjectivity, so it's all art to some degree. ;)

 

One could argue that certain phenomena are objective, but they would be the spacetime rebels. Cowboys with no regard for Relativity.

 

Science is an approach. Art is an interpretation.

 

So what happens when you approach interpretation? :turtle:

I think of science as a methodology mainly, like the scientific method. Art is more abstract, but as Tormod pointed out, they can exist in tandem.

 

From my personal experience being a musician and scientist, I find the experiences intertwined. So we're back to subjectivity. :doh:

 

But seriously, when I play my guitar, I feel that creativity takes the helm and is the leader. I try some chords and rhythms and find something that works (artistic). Then I shift gears and go into technical mode. I focus in on certain frequencies for amplitude adjustments and frequency filtration. I apply various filters to the audio and experiment with the settings to achieve the desired results (scientific).

 

Of course, art is the all encompassing theme because of "the desired result".

 

Audio engineers often speak of their work as being a mix of art and engineering (science). Unfortunately, the top productions here in the US have seemingly abandoned the tenets of good engineering in light of dictated "art".

 

Of course, humor can be involved when attempting a distinction:

Painter=P

Scientist=S

 

P: I will paint a tree to show you my art.

S: Affirmative.

P: There, I have painted the tree and as you can see, it does not really look like a palm tree, but it is a fanciful interpretation. Look at the brown trunk and the way the sunlight plays upon the fronds.

S: I observe a canvas made of finely woven fabric. The colors are clearly electromagnetic energy at varying frequencies and the mottled pattern on the topology suggests that a textured apparatus was used to apply the oil/water solutions applied to the aforementioned fabric.

P: But can't you see that it is a pretty tree?

S: It resembles a tree morphologically, but does not demonstrate dicot nor monocot semblance.

P: What if I paint your face like a clown, what semblance would that have?

S: It would have the semblance of me increasing the acceleration of my massive fist in such a way that I would inflict positive force upon your massive surfaces.

:doh:

:D

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"Science" has a definite meaning and definition. "Art" does not. Art can be something pleasing to the senses (visual, acoustic) and thus would be subject to the individual tastes, as in "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Art can also be a depiction of culture or some philosophy, and thus can be beautiful, ugly or anything in between.

 

I relate science and art in many ways. Music has a mathematical foundation. Also, some math/physics formulas can be graphed and represented visually - but to appreciate that often takes a knowledge of the science as well, which most people don't have.

 

You can see the "Art" in Science and nature by looking through a telescope or microscope for example.

 

Perhaps the best fusion of the two is the relatively new science of chaos, and it's daughter, fractal geometry. Some rather complex math can be graphically depicted via computer, and produce art by any definition of the word, that anyone can appreciate whether they understand the math or not.

 

Example:

 

fractal-animation.net/ufvp.html

 

Enjoy!

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At the risk of drowning in semantics, I would argue that teaching science is not art because teaching EXPLAINS science and often times includes tangible examples to demonstrate what is being taught. I consider art to have some component of creation and/or imagination.
I firmly believe that most of the teaching community would disagree with you. “Poor” teaching might very well be a science but “good” teaching of any subject is certainly an art. It fulfills every quality normally assigned to any “art”. It cannot be done well without considerable practice, the results are almost always unique both in individual instances and in the body of work performed by an individual. It is certainly not repeatable in the sense normally applied to a science.
Reiterating previously discovered knowledge is not art imho.
And it is not “teaching” either. If that is all you think is necessary, schools could all be closed and let the students research the discovered knowledge themselves.
I also think that people who "do" science should be called "scientists".
Oh, I agree with that; however, most “scientists” actually don’t do much science except as examples in their teaching or setup elements in their experiments. Day to day use of science is far more extensive in the engineering field, or don’t you believe engineers use science in their work?
I perform Ecology work for a living, but would never call myself an engineer. :turtle:

(even though I work for an engineering firm :cup:)

Well, that’s nice; however, what field would you place Ecology in if you were going to teach it? If it is to be taught in a college of “Arts and Sciences” does it belong to the “Arts” or does it belong to the “Sciences”?

 

What I am talking about is the general common use of the terms “Art” and “Science”. I don’t think you are. Secondly, I don’t think your comments have much to do with what blamski had on his mind when he made his post. Neither do I think many of the people posting here understand the issue. Most are merely expressing their personal opinions without putting much thought into the issue at all. Of course that is no more than an opinion. :wink: :hihi: :eek: :lol:

 

Have fun -- Dick

 

Knowledge is Power

and any power can be abused.

The most popular abuse of the power of knowledge is to use it to hide stupidity

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I don’t think your comments have much to do with what blamski had on his mind when he made his post. Neither do I think many of the people posting here understand the issue. Most are merely expressing their personal opinions without putting much thought into the issue at all.

Was that really necessary to add to the readers understanding of the terms art and science? Must you crap on everything that is not as verbose as you?

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I firmly believe that most of the teaching community would disagree with you.

 

I'm sure an orchestra teacher would disagree with me, but I doubt a calculus teacher would.

“Poor” teaching might very well be a science but “good” teaching of any subject is certainly an art.

 

I would say that some teachers present the material in a way that is superior.

 

It fulfills every quality normally assigned to any “art”.

 

I agree.

 

It cannot be done well without considerable practice, the results are almost always unique both in individual instances and in the body of work performed by an individual. It is certainly not repeatable in the sense normally applied to a science.

 

ok.

 

And it is not “teaching” either. If that is all you think is necessary, schools could all be closed and let the students research the discovered knowledge themselves.

 

That is quite a jump.

 

Oh, I agree with that; however, most “scientists” actually don’t do much science except as examples in their teaching or setup elements in their experiments.

 

If a bunch of scientists are not doing science, then they're not scientists. What are they doing?

 

Day to day use of science is far more extensive in the engineering field, or don’t you believe engineers use science in their work?

 

I do not take well to rhetorical questions which imply some non-belief on my part.

Well, that’s nice;

 

I also do not appreciate this downtalking. I'm not a child, so let's keep this adult and civil eh?

 

however, what field would you place Ecology in if you were going to teach it? If it is to be taught in a college of “Arts and Sciences” does it belong to the “Arts” or does it belong to the “Sciences”?

 

Ecology is a science, plain and simple. This is not to say that it never exhibits artistic qualities, but it is most often science which is why it is defined as such.

What I am talking about is the general common use of the terms “Art” and “Science”.

 

The semantics of the words are relative, and the disciplines intertwined so much that it is difficult to make distinctions. But if we can make no distinctions, then why not encapsulate everything from both camps into one word.

 

Secondly, I don’t think your comments have much to do with what blamski had on his mind when he made his post.

 

That's Blamski's call to make.

 

Neither do I think many of the people posting here understand the issue.

 

Really? If so, then post why?

 

Most are merely expressing their personal opinions without putting much thought into the issue at all. Of course that is no more than an opinion. :turtle: :cup: :wink: :hihi:

 

The way I see it, this is a philosophical discussion. If you are uncomfortable with opinions in philosophy, then I suggest you explain why?

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