Science and art—two fields that seem to be poles apart. In today’s culture, you are shoved into one box or another, without much room for escape. What would our old pal Leonardo da Vinci think of that? The man who suggested a primitive theory of plate tectonics and invented flying machines was also one of the greatest artists the western world. Science and art used to go hand-in-hand, and were regarded as essential elements of being an “educated” person. I’ll admit that I’m making a bit of a generalisation here, but do go with it—in school, students who are talented in art, are not encouraged scientifically—and those who excel science are rarely encouraged in visual art (I say visual because an exception seems to be made for music). To do professionally today is nearly unheard of (though I can’t say I’d mind making a stab at trying).
But… there are signs that society might be coming around… a bit at least. Topics relevant to science are increasingly feeding contemporary art. Bio-artists are using techniques of biology in making their art, questioning issues around genetic engineering and the environment. It is now not unusual for science departments at universities or not-for-profit organizations to have an artist in residence. Sometimes this is seen as good PR, a good “engagement” strategy; other times there is a genuine recognition of the contributions that science can make to contemporary art and what the fields can learn from each other. Believe it or not, there is even a scholarly journal dedicated to art and science. There are increasing calls for artists to engage with the issue of climate change and provide the impetus for action that scientists seem incapable of doing.
So, why blog? Mostly as a way of keeping myself up to date on the happenings in the small, but vibrant field of sci art, and a way to occasionally share any relevant work I might make, and highlight the work of various artists engaging with science in various ways. I am interested in what constitutes “good” sci-art (as far as you’re willing to take that word when it concerns the subjectivity involved in the interpretation of art) and whether making a beautiful image within the context of science = art. So, here begins the discussion….