Response to Werner’s Thought Experiments — Will Science Replace Religion?

Stephen Nowlin/ Regarding Werner’s call for thought experiments on the future of the science-art enterprise, and my query on how science might someday replace religion. Werner asks “Do you have a sense of how this might work in practice?”

Good, modest little question, Werner — kinda like asking for simple operating instructions on how to transform all of human history! But an excellent experimental thought challenge. So everyone please forgive me at the outset for the hubris of even imagining how such a massive change might actually happen . . .

A first humble step might be to stop casting the argument in terms of religion vs. science, and engage it as supernatural-world vs. natural-world. This makes it an academic pursuit rather than one pointedly antagonistic to belief. Then get over the NOMA hurdle, discard it and recognize that ontologically religion and science essentially account for the same deep-seated human … Continue reading

Translational research and everyday aesthetics

Dan Weiskopf/ The examples of science-art interactions discussed so far have mostly identified science with basic research and its products (theories, data, images, etc.). But science is heterogeneous, and the emphasis on theory neglects other forms it can take. Beyond the classical division between theorists and experimentalists, we also need to add modelers and simulation-builders, who craft and manipulate computational analogs of real-world systems. Perhaps most significant for thinking about science-art collaborations, though, is the comparatively new field of translational research.… Continue reading

“Nature is Infinitely Interdisciplinary”

Linda Francis / Jeanne’s post is certainly spot on. I think we sort of obliquely spoke about “knowledge” and didn’t really continue the discussion James began in regards to it. Matthew graphed the migration of modes of thinking from one position to another in history.  I agree with Margaret that the toughest part of the picture, even with this cascade of science into the culture’s consciousness, is in trying to work together to affect  real-world applications that are most often linked to politics.  Suzanne cited two programs that were applying pragmatic solutions to big political problems in a kind of entrepreneurial frame. But I am most concerned/ worried about the development of AI and how that could be used. How can artists, who are taught that art does not editorialize, position themselves as arbiters of what is good?… Continue reading

Thoughts on the Future of Art and Science

Jeanne Brasile/ I think art and science both have much to offer one another.  One example that resonated with me recently was how scientists and engineers at MIT are using origami to overcome the difficulties of space travel – specifically using designs for solar arrays based on intricate folds to maximize energy use.   Similarly, physicist Robert J. Lang is also an origami master who similarly employs the use of folding to solve complex engineering problems at NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory.  I see that the future is not necessarily about a convergence of art and science, but how art and science can be used cooperatively to overcome challenges in both fields.  It is in the area of innovation – the ability to think, see and tap into knowledge outside your area of expertise – that will enable us to make gains beyond that which can be approached by working within the … Continue reading

Sci-Art Fictions

Werner Sun/ Leonardo da Vinci is often cited as the original sci-artist and a paragon to be emulated because of his mastery of both art and science. But I wonder if Leonardo is a false idol, given how much both fields have evolved since his time. Science in the 1400’s was a far more speculative affair than it is today, not having been exposed to the instruments or mathematics or Enlightenment ethos that solidified its current cultural authority. And I suspect that most artists in the 1400’s viewed their craft in a utilitarian manner and not as the vehicle for transcendence that so many of us insist upon. In other words, the idealized art/science unity in the Renaissance may simply be a romantic myth that has little bearing on art and science as they are now. Perhaps today’s art and science were never meant to be as one.

Having made … Continue reading


Taney Roniger/ The flurry of activity we saw here over the weekend has left us with much to ponder and discuss! While we continue to explore some of those questions, I want to issue the final set of prompts that will take us through Wednesday. Because we’ve covered so much material in so little time, and because so many of our panelists’ responses call for further discussion, we’ve decided to leave the conference site live through the end of the year. This will give everyone the opportunity to continue the dialogue and, should there be the desire, to respond to each other’s essays that will appear soon in The Brooklyn Rail.

 Moving Forward:
Establishing Visions for the Future

Mon. Nov. 13 – Tues. Nov. 14, 2017

4.1 What, if anything, does sci-art have to offer the broader culture?

 4.2 Does the sci-art movement have a role to play in … Continue reading