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 that claim, I should also guard against presentism and acknowledge that art and science are surely still evolving. In the future, art and science might leverage the cognitive similarities that Luis has noted in unforeseen ways, undergoing foundational shifts that position them more in alignment with each other. Indeed, before Maxwell, who would have thought that electricity and magnetism were one and the same? [Of course, art and science might instead draw even farther apart.]
Daniel has brought up one such vision: computer-generated Rembrandt paintings. He asks whether this is art. What if future generations say yes?
Elaine has suggested a different kind of partnership, where scientists, when they hit roadblocks, might look to artists’ tacit knowledge to guide them towards the right questions. What if art becomes the oracle for science?
Matthew posits that the indigestible raw images of both art and science undergo successive levels of manipulation and abstraction, and in so doing, approach a middle ground accessible by practitioners in both fields as well as the general public. What if informational diagrams become the lingua franca of civilization?
Stephen has advocated for sci-art as an agent of change that endows science with the emotional resonance required to replace discredited myths of old.
All of these game-changing possibilities would make for interesting thought experiments (which is perhaps another definition of sci-art). Who wants to play?