Response to Daniel Hill’s question: “what if a robot makes the scrambled eggs? Would it still be an art?”

Leonard Shapiro/ At the outset, let me say that robotics is not my field so please be as critical of my response as you need to be.

A robot would be programmed with the intelligent input of a human or a number of humans. When the robot makes decisions and then acts on these decisions based on its programming, it is acting within the parameters of its programming and therefore within the parameters and limitations of the human intelligence that it now contains. I am sure the robot can be programmed to randomly adjust some of its decisions. For example, to add a pinch more salt or whisk the egg more slowly or more quickly (which will introduce less or more air into the egg mixture). The parameters of ‘how much or how little salt’ can be pre-programmed; in other words, it would be pre-programmed not to add over a … Continue reading

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.… Continue reading

Response to Werner Sun

Leonard Shapiro/ The fundamental differences between the ‘language of art’ and the ‘language of science’.
It might be obvious and for that reason overlooked: each individual artist uses a visual language specific to them and we the viewer need to get to understand their unique language in order to ‘read’ and understand their artwork and what they are trying to ‘say’. Even fellow artists need to decipher the unique visual language that their fellow artists use.
Scientists (and indeed the whole science community) use a universally understood language. As such, scientists understand each other’s writings, terminology, visual imagery, annotations, etc. immediately. There are descriptive standards which facilitate precise understandings and clear, unambiguous communication.… Continue reading

Response to Daniel Hill on epistemological chasms as unbridgeable

Leonard Shapiro/ “But the epistemological differences between the two make a true convergence unlikely in our lifetimes and perhaps never.”

Despite the epistemological constructs that separate art and science, one can still build a bridge and forge practical links (on an individual basis i.e. literally in the work that one does), between art and science. I teach an observation method that involves touch and drawing to medical students and medical practitioners in order for them to dramatically improve their ability to observe the 3D form of the human anatomy.  I see the work that I do as having made a small bridge between art and science, but a bridge all the same. More of these practical examples can happen.… Continue reading

Session 1

Leonard Shapiro/

Thoughts on the Art and Science Worlds. Is the separation as great as we think?

Artists inhabit a domain, a world they call the ‘art world’. Scientists inhabit a world they call the ‘science world’. Each of these domains has a specific language associated with it (for good reason) and the people who occupy each domain use this language to communicate with each other. However, while a particular language serves an important communicative and descriptive function within each domain, these languages can unwittingly serve to alienate those who are not familiar with the other’s domain. It is generally perceived that scientists view artists with suspicion and vice versa; a myriad of art vs science jokes and jibes attest to this divergence and ‘othering’. Artists are viewed as ‘laid-back’, ‘weird’, ‘alternative’ while scientists are viewed as ‘hard-nosed’, ‘matter-of-fact’, ‘down to earth.

Even as some scientists and artists follow a Continue reading