Response to Taney’s post On the Question of Audience

Daniel Hill/ I used to like to make a thought experiment of trying to imagine the edge of any material object as magnification is slowly and steadily increased.  Physics has shown that any solid object is mostly empty space, so at some point in magnification, the boundary between the thing and no-thing would become difficult to determine.  Since thinking about the line between art and science can feel like wading into quicksand with no possible outcome, I like to think in terms of perspective.  One thing we can be sure of is that our tenures on this planet are exceedingly brief.  The universe exists more without humanity than with us.  The vast majority of species that have existed on this planet have gone extinct.  Until the 1920’s the universe was only as big as the Milky Way Galaxy until Edwin Hubble made his breakthrough discovery.  Now with the dark matter/dark … Continue reading

Questions for Jim Elkins (and link to Saturday’s lecture)

Taney Roniger/ Since those of you who attended our opening event may have had questions for Jim after his lecture, I want to let you know that he’ll be with us here until tomorrow morning and then back briefly early next week. Whether you were with us on Saturday or not, you may want to take this opportunity to engage him on his views about art and science. Here’s a link to his lecture at CUE:

(Use the comments section at the bottom of this post.)… Continue reading

Session 1

Jeanne Brasile/In thinking about the idea of a ‘convergence’ between art and science, I see this not so much as a union of two disciplines, but rather, a meeting of the minds.  Sci-art is a trend, a catchy name to describe something that artists have been doing quietly for some time without an official title.  If you think back, Sci-art has pretty much always been ‘a thing.’  Georges Seurat was studied in the science of optics.  Robert Smithson was interested in the geometric properties of molecules and crystalline structures.  Kenneth Snelson worked with the forces of physics and was inspired by atomic structures.

We like to name and organize things, it’s a human tendency built of our desire to make meaning and understand.  Sci-art is another way of compartmentalizing an array of artistic and scientific approaches that are innate, and needed no name until rather recently – when marketing … Continue reading

1.5 There is no sci-art

Linda Francis/ Science can be the subject of art,  just as reason can be a method or operation in making art and then in understanding it. It can be style. But the appellation “sci-art” is a brand, a useful commodification just as the embrace of science in the popular media is a necessary sale to the public in a world which is increasingly underpinned  by the sciences.  The allure to artists: the gorgeous imagery, structure, form of the macro/micro revealed in photographs and stories of escape from society’s more clearly repulsive  spectacle. It opens onto the usual discussions of aesthetics in terms of questions of beauty, truth, the ideal, resonance, et al.… Continue reading

More on How Art and Science Know . . .

Stephen Nowlin/

Science, of course, investigates and knows about many things but let’s just take one category, astronomy. It’s likely that most of the planet’s current human population knows through education or at least general cultural awareness that the Earth orbits the Sun and the Moon goes around the Earth. And my guess is that (just speculation here, and despite sporadic droplets of broader knowledge many now encounter through contemporary sources like Discovery or Science channels, Facebook posts, CNN headlines, or fading Sagan-Cosmos memories), . . . that this simple Copernican Sun/Moon/Earth relationship is about the extent to which a majority of modern humans care or incorporate knowledge of astronomy or astrophysics into their personal existential identities. It seems remarkable to me that an earlier Earth and mythology-centered ontological framework inherited from a multi-millennial past has been so minimally disturbed by the thorough and revolutionary debunking it has experienced during … Continue reading

From the Ground Up (response to Werner)

Taney Roniger/ Like Werner, I’ve also been impressed by the enormous range of responses so far, each of which alone could keep us busy for the next few days. But because I so strongly agree with him about “going back to basics,” I want to pick up on that thread and see if we can take a stab at articulating the core concerns of each field. Werner has offered up a definition of science that cannot be emphasized enough, and this is that science is first and foremost a way of thinking. (Although we collectively swore the other night we’d never mention him again, indulge me here this one last time: even C.P. Snow perpetuated the ridiculous image of science as a grand filing cabinet of facts. One of his many blunders, to be sure.)  Would anyone care to offer a similarly succinct corrective on what art is, or what … Continue reading

Semantic Sprawl

Werner Sun/

Thanks to everyone for all the posts so far and for such a stimulating discussion at the opening event on Saturday. There are so many interesting threads to pursue here. But for now, let me begin with a somewhat prosaic pet peeve of mine:

As was alluded to at the opening event and also in several posts here, one barrier to productive communication and collaboration between artists and scientists is the lack of a common language or vocabulary (as in any interdisciplinary endeavor). And this disconnect separates practitioners in either field from the general public as well. It seems to me that these misunderstandings go all the way back to the two words “art” and “science” themselves.

For example, in popular parlance, it is not uncommon to come across phrases like “the science of frying eggs” or “what science tells us about climate change” or “with all the … Continue reading

Initial Thoughts

Sinead Maharaj/ Thank you for the invitation to join a great forum. The discussion on the convergence of Science and Art is a personal interest of mine, that inspires my work.

To enter this dialogue, I will refer to my  initial difficulty,  that of how the pedagogy has defined the disciplines of Art and Science, as two very seperate ways of thinking.  The pedagogy positions our minds to differentiate each discipline, as completely separate. Science is sold to students as the positioning of  facts, with evidence to support, making something true or false. Art is positioned as creative thought processes. Through the pedagogy we learn a specific index for both, and tell students they are inclined to think in one way or the other.  In the discussion to converge the two disciplines, I guess I ask, why Science and Art are treated as completely different containers in the first … Continue reading

Note to Readers

Taney Roniger/ Since a lot of the action seems to be taking place in the comments sections here, I may be re-posting some of the comments in the main feed over the coming days. Until then, be sure to check the comments sections beneath posts.… Continue reading

Co-production or critique?

Dan Weiskopf/ I find it useful to think about art-science interactions in terms of two broad models: co-production and critique. Each of these is pitched at a separate audience, and embodies a different idea about what the two practices have to offer each other.

On a co-production model, artists and scientists jointly aim to create something of potential value to both enterprises. In its strongest form this might mean producing a kind of knowledge (or new data or phenomena) that can be incorporated into science itself. Sciart here is continuous with scientific practice. Alternatively, it might mean generating knowledge that is about science and relevant to its practice without being directly part of it. Sometimes this is cast not in terms of knowledge but rather as producing a form of “insight” or “understanding”, each of which could be theorized much further. Finally, the hope of collaboration sometimes seems to be … Continue reading