Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] latest snapshot on neuroscience and art trends

On Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 1:51 PM, toddsiler1 . <siler.todd@gmail.com<mailto:siler.todd@gmail.com>> wrote:

I agree with Greg Dunn's point that 'many artists who use scientific methods
in their work are not recognized as being "science artists" (such as Georges
Seurat and John Singer Sargent), yet the inclusion of them under a broader
umbrella term may help to educate the public about the pervasiveness of
scientific observation in artistic practice.'

The referencing of an artist such as Seurat in this discussion brings to mind other issues surrounding the lineage between current art-science and earlier developments in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century art — a relationship that I believe is under-acknowledged in general, and then somewhat erroneously attributed when it is acknowledged.

Although an artist like Seurat was engaged with explorations in optical and visual perception, and the Cubists may somehow have been reacting to Einstein's theory of relativity, what science such artists were (or may have been) illustrating or exploring in their work is not the most salient antecedent to current art-science. I think there is a much more profound relationship between the two eras — i.e., what was going on in the late nineteen-hundreds with the general notion of how humans perceive space, and how pictorial space in the visual arts enshrined in the human psyche certain assumptions and particular world views.

When modern art changed from expressions located in pictorial imaginary space, to expressions located in physical real space (think, from Cezanne to Malevich and Duchamp), it was superficially described as being a transition from representation to abstraction — and that is the difference which became understood and studied as the era's paradigmatic change.

But I think maybe the paradigmatic change was actually in space-orientation, and what makes this a distinction with a difference, rather than without one, is the recognition that pictorial illusionistic space is what had embodied and validated imaginary, erroneous, and so-called supernatural beliefs about the world for millennia prior to the nineteenth century. The dismantling of pictorial illusionistic space by artists of that century and its replacement with the aesthetics of real space (the canvas as an object in our real world rather than a window through which we peered into an imaginary one) exalted and gave existential priority to the space science studies rather than the space where persistent mythologies thrive. Science and art have propelled this gradual paradigm change over the last century-and-half, and its primary effect continues to be an erosion (albeit slow) of belief in the so-called supernatural with a concomitant rise in the aesthetic embrace of, and concern for, the natural.

Today that vector of change is manifest in the art-science movement, and should be part of any discourse over the movement's emerging meanings. I have written some about this in an essay for the 2014 exhibition REALSPACE, at http://bit.ly/1MJHlxr .

Stephen Nowlin

S t e p h e n N o w l i n
Vice President
Director, Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery
1700 Lida Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
626.396.2397 | http://williamsongallery.net/google


P a s a d e n a — C I t y o f A r t & S c I e n c e