Taney Roniger/ We’ve received an impassioned comment from one of our readers challenging some of the statements that have been made here. In my great appreciation for the push-back, I’m reposting his comment here for anyone who might be interested in responding. Thanks for offering your perspective, Michael!
Michael Ricciardi/ Perhaps the debate over the meaning or purpose of ‘sci-art’ results from the placing of ‘sci’ before the term ‘art’. That said, I have no problem with the term as is. Further, in no way have I ever felt that this meant “Art in the service of Science”…Consider the 2015 exhibition at the Hall of Science Museum in NYC (which I participated in) called ‘Science Inspires Art – The Brain’ [http://web.archive.org/web/20160330064431/http://www.asci.org/artikel1369.html]. The exhibition of some 40+ works included several works that were both humorous and /or questioning of cognitive (“brain”) science, and a few that appropriated the theme to explore personal issues such as mental illness. All of the works chose to explore a rather diverse field of topics or perspectives in regards to “the brain”; nothing that I saw there could be considered “Art in service to Science” I am not saying that such art does not exist, nor, that some sci-art exhibitions promote this approach (if only as an unconscious bias)…only that this is not what sci-art is (for more on my view of sci-art, see my comment under the topic ‘There is No Sci-Art’ on this blog).
Also: I would quibble a bit with the claim (above): “Most scientists just aren’t interested in understanding art in any depth”
Many scientists are in fact artists of some type (e.g., musicians, poets, painters, photographers) and many come from liberal arts (college) backgrounds before they chose to pursue their science degrees (so they do have some background in the humanities).
This view may unintentionally reinforce C. P. Snow’s “two cultures” dichotomy…when the truth is more fuzzy than that, and, increasingly, scientists (especially neuro-scientists like Dr. Anjan Chatterjee who co-curated The Brain exhibit) are seeing the tremendous value in exploring the aesthetic/poetic (and “epistemologic”) aspects of the sciences.
What is becoming even more clear (and crucial) is the need for collaborations between artists and scientists to do two main things: communicate science more effectively to the public (given the current rejection of science by the extreme political Right and Left wings), and, to “bridge’ the gap between what science is doing and what the public believes or understands about this activity (including addressing ethical concerns and future courses of societies in which science operates most forcefully). This collaborative approach may be all the more important given the advent of Artificial Intelligence and robotic automation that seems to be taking over our society.
Perhaps, if Art is “in the service of anything”…it is in the service of society, the public good…which ain’t such a bad thing, y’know?