We seem to have drifted into a more general discussion on science and art. I'm probably not saying anything new, but why are we differentiating? Lets go back a bit. Science as we know it was really only invented in the 18th C. Way before then, Leonardo was the archetype of the inseparability of science and art. I'm currently in China - only virtual scotch drinking with Richard at the moment I'm afraid - in Hangzhou, seat of the Song dynasty about a thousand years ago - they didn't have separate scientists and artists - hold a blue Song Dynasty Jin bowl in your hands (dont drop it - will cost you a fortune) and try and convince yourself that science and art are different. Even the founders of the Roy Soc in London - Newton, Wren, Hook, Evelyn, Boyle (scientists) were also literary men. Jump ahead to the turn of the 18th and Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelly were all well up on science, and the greatest scientists of the age - Davy, Priestly, Farady - were literary - Humphrey Davy published poetry. Goethe was poet and scientist, with theories on colour and plant morphology. When Keats wrote in On first looking into Chapman's Homer: "Then felt I like some watcher of the skies/When a new planet swims into his ken" he was referring to William Herschel and his new discoveries in astronomy (including deep time). Keats also wrote in Lamia, reflecting on the thoughts that science was destroying natural mysteries:
"Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine -
Unweave a rainbow......"
(Dawkins uses the unweaving the rainbow bit as a title for one of his books)
And the whole divide was codifed last century by CP Snow talking about the two cultures (and just for the fun of it, the bitchy epigram about Snow is that scientists thought he was a great writer and writers thought him a great scientist.....).
I've been taken aback by the examples you all cite on the relationships between art and science in sensory perception - it suggests that in at least one corner of the creative world, arts and science are coming together again.
Roger - you mentioned I think in your latest response that arts and science have different goals. No they don't. Science is a creative process - if we unweave rainbows it is usually only to reveal another mystery - science is just following a different methodology. I don't think art is really just about expression. It is another way of understanding. Sensory perception, multi or not, is only a way in to that understanding, a particular route that you take, just as the scientific experimental process or conceptualisation or abstract thinking is also a way in - different routes and methods with the same intention. Its not the goal, but the process that we're always talking about. So folks, give us the goal of your art and we'll tell you it's the goal of science.
From: email@example.com on behalf of Cynthia B Rubin
Sent: Sun 14/03/2010 4:38 a.m.
To: YASMIN DISCUSSIONS
Subject: [Yasmin_discussions] cross modal
Greetings Ian, Roger, and all:
I am reading this not over scotch but over morning coffee, which may
have a very different multi-sensory effect.
In the early days of digital imaging, many of us used a little piece
of software called "NIH Image" which was developed at the National
Institutes of Health. This application allowed scientists to
experiment with wild differences in color while looking at images, so
that qualities of a particular aspect of the image could be teased to
the foreground, while visually "pushing" other elements into the
background. Changing color relationships offered the possibility of
new insights into the visual data.
I would like to think that this is an early example of artistic
thought influencing digital scientific visualization. Artists used
the software because it was free, as the government sponsorship of
this software put it in the public domain. But we also used it
because it did exactly what artists always try to do - it
facilitated analysis of emerging relationships in an image, thereby
promoting creativity. Although scientists have long used dyes to
highlight features, the complexity of shifting visual readings
through shifting relationships in color seems to be directly borrowed
from artistic analysis and methods.
By the way, in my "Digital Nature" class at the Rhode Island School
of Design, my students use current software (OK, Photoshop....) to
manipulate images from microscopes, producing stunning works drawn
directly from Nature, while offering a new look at what is there.
Surprise - in writing this message I searched and found that NIH
Image is still online in its original form:
as well as an update which I am thrilled to know about
On Mar 13, 2010, at 6:44 AM, roger malina wrote:
> well i was drinking red wine when i read your scotch influenced
> with richard:
> There are a couple of things that Richard and I talked about over a
> the other night
> 1. This dicusssion doesn't have a linear trajectory - in science we
> tend to
> work somewhat directionally - circularity might be initially
> interesting but
> in the end only raises issues and doesnt take us onwards - do you
> folk think
> 2. We see science contributing to the artistic world. Is the opposite
> a) on the non linear trajectory of yasmin discussions= indeed the
> open list
> discussion mode favors discursive
> modes rather than tightly reasoned argument= its more like a stone
> model, where each person
> contributes a stone and you end up with vegetable soup ( or rather
> ratatouille or bouillabaisse in this
> part of the world)
> b) re the question of science contributing to the art world versus art
> contributing to the science
> world= well thats the gauntlet !! as roy ascott famously said - in
> society it is science
> that is in trouble ( most people on the planet dont believe that
> science is
> reliable= check the
> stats on the theory of evolution and the minority of the planet that
> believes its a good
> reliable explanation !! roy encapsulated this with " ask not what
> can do for art,
> ask what art can do for science"0
> perhaps using the cross-modal sensory discussion metaphor we should
> out that
> art and science are both intrinsic parts of human culture and its not
> possible logically
> or philosophically to separate them.
> why are we interested in cognition and neurobiology as a science ?
> none of the
> universe has the kind of neuronal structures that humans have=
> ( most life
> is organised
> in different ways and most of the universe is non living) - so if
> we were
> running the universe
> had to decide which science to invest in, cognition and
> neurobiology would
> be one of the
> last= as these systems have almost no impact on the dominant
> processes in
> the universe=
> we are interested in them because human beings have these systems=
> we create
> for human beings and we use science to understand the physical
> processes we
> more seriously (yes its half a bottle of wine now) art and science are
> carried out
> with different goals, methodologies and institutional structures=
> so the
> you ask is at least socially meaningful.
> indeed science and technology have had a huge impact on the arts
> ( most
> importantly through the way that physics and quantum mechanics led
> to semi
> conductors led to the digal computer etc) and the are now numerous
> new art
> enabled by the digital revolution)( and the new bio arts are
> building on
> science etc)
> the opposite is also happening with the work of artists influencing
> and technology ( in methods, goals, approaches), robert thrill has
> a growing
> list of examples of patents filed by artists:
> (I encourage yasminers to add to his list: "Robert Thill"
> <robert.thil lAT
> and there are numerous examples of art science collaborations
> leading to
> papers with the artists as co authors- the one i always like to
> cite is the
> of david dunn and jim crutchfield on bio accoustic ecology
> and i just started a twine with examples of scientific papers co
> by artists
> and scientists= send me additions to rmalina AT alum.mit.edu if you
> have a
> science paper
> co authored by an artist and scientist
> ian and richard= back to you and the wine hands over non linearily
> to the
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