Art invoking the authority of Science in order to give ‘legitimacy’ to non-sense

Leonard Shapiro/ I have often seen artworks which include random scientific imagery in order to ‘science up’ the artwork; to give the artwork the veneer of being an artwork that is making a comment that is supported by science. This imagery is often unintelligible (to the general public and even to the visually literate) and can even consist of a fragment of the original scientific image.  In doing this, artists are doing science (and sci-art) a dis-service in that unintelligible sci-art imagery alienates non-scientists even further from approaching and understanding things scientific.  And it certainly alienates scientists from art and artists.

2 Replies to “Art invoking the authority of Science in order to give ‘legitimacy’ to non-sense”

  1. Exactly, Leonard. It’s interesting to hear that you’re seeing the same kind of thing there in South Africa. Although I know sci-art has a storied history in the UK, I had assumed its more pretentious manifestations were primarily New York phenomena. Does Cape Town have special sci-art galleries, centers, and magazines like we have here, I wonder?

    1. Taney, South Africa does not have dedicated sci-art galleries nor magazines. Truth be told, the first time I heard about sci-art was from you via our discussions on facebook. I think you could call Maropeng a sci-art endeavor where art accurately and artistically reflects the science being communicated. Maropeng is the official visitor center to the Cradle of Humankind. Scientists and artists/designers worked very closely on this project to make it a success. There are well designed interactive exhibits with information that appeals to the very young right through to older school goers. There is also information available for academics and archaeologists.

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