In response to one of the discussions Drew made a comment, below, that the “goal of Art Sci is integration”

Is this really the goal ? Integration of what ? the arts and sciences ? institutionally ?
Intellectually ? Are the new Leonardo’s individuals, teams of people, both. Do we need people who are ‘integrators’ rather than creating a third culture ?

Personally I am less than convinced by the broad Third Culture Claims, or the overarching transcilience claims of E.O Wilson

I think there are very good reasons why we need focused disciplinary domains with people who are deep experts in these domains.

However for many types of problems we have to cross domains to bring together the approaches and content needed for resolution. But I think we have to be careful. I don’t think for instance that inter/trans/disciplinarity is a ‘discipline”; art and biology art science requires different kinds of approaches than say space exploration and music art-sci.

If you google ‘the water problem’ you will find people who argue this way =that for certain kinds of issues we have no choice but to bridge the arts and sciences ( and eventually politics and society at large). Redesigning human culture to mitigate anthropogenic environmental changes clearly requires the best art-sci collaborations we can imaging because the scientific and technical questions are all so deeply culturally embedded.

What is the goal or purpose of stimulating and encouraging ART-SCI?

I will start a separate discussion on the different kinds of art-sci= because i also think we have to be careful about mixing arguments for art sci that is tied to public understanding of science, for instance, to art sci that seeks new discoveries, inventions, or those trying to appropriate the world of science and technology in cultural meaningful expressions.

Roger= here is drew’s initial post

Drew Lesso says:
August 28, 2010 at 4:12 pm (Edit)


  1. annick bureaud sent me this comment:

    basically she argues that in art-science collaboration each discipline needs to keep its own identity, methods, languages and neither one seeks to be in support of the other

    she states that there is an equilibrium between scientific rigor and artistic integrity that must be respected


    Le slogan est issu d’une discussion que j’avais eu avec Flow Motion.

    Dans la relation art/science, il me semble important que la science garde son identité et l’art aussi. A la rigueur scientifique correspond l’intégrité artistique. Autrement dit chacun respecte ses méthodes, méthodologies, etc. et n’essaie pas d’être le faire valoir de l’autre, ni de se servir de l’autre, chacun dans son langage et son intégrité.

    Bon, je ne suis pas sûre d’être plus claire 😉


  2. I was surprised that my comment regarding the ‘eventual unification’ of the Arts & Sciences would spur controversy. I certainly do not wish to become the poster child for the unification integration of the Arts & Sciences, although from the content within the Harmonics section on my web archive that this would seem to be the case.

    Let me clarify my position. The keyword for me is ‘eventual’. Placing this word on a timeline, I would equate the unification of ART SCI on the same basis as robots with cognizance. This puts the matter ‘way far’ into the future.

    This whole SCI ART unification issue has a long history. We could start with the Pythagoreans, further with Plato, into the reasoning and the causes of the Renaissance, Kepler, Newton, eastern culture; there are so many artists and scientists along the way and far too many to mention here, but certainly ample material for an ART SCI encyclopedia of Artists using science and Scientists thinking like artists.

    I agree with Annick, that each discipline needs to keep its own identity and methods. There will always be artists who simply paint or write poetry and scientists devoted purely to their particular fields. Additionally there is a new subset, lets call them ‘researcher discovers’, who cross the boundaries of Art and Science.

    What has occurred recently can be primarily attributed to the haptical innovation of the mouse click that controls an accompanying algorithmic procedure and the somewhat simple combination of algorithmic procedures that artists as well as scientists find useful. It is just amazing, armed with the knowledge of mouse clicking and key commands, that any program becomes accessible at some level to the masses. This is revolution!

    For this revolution to work toward humanity’s benefit it is essential that a new educational system be considered, starting with primary education. We elders are already immersed in this sea of mouse clicks and internet library. For the newly born this experience is reality.

    My experience as a composer, who in the late 60’s began questioning whether a connection existed with the visual world; more than 35 years later I have become an experienced Harmonist in the tradition of Hans Kayser. (www.hanskayser.com) I base most of my work upon the rediscoveries of Albert Thimus and Hans Kayser. I am amazed at how closely the discipline of Harmonics runs parallel to computer development. The work of Stephen Wolfram is also very close to harmonic thought.

    For starters, I would advise that the monochord be introduced into primary education. The relationship of quantity (ratio-number) and quality (tone), then time and space, and also frequency and string length are essential reciprocities for all of the Arts and Sciences. An interesting catalog should be gathered for all types of reciprocity. Some of the keys to our future lie here, constructing a basis for the education of children, proceeding into the new age, which I presume to be a golden age, but in which we will not exist and only play our part, to lead coming generations.

  3. here is a statement from scientist sid nagel:

    Why we think more collaboration between scientists and artists should be encouraged/funded
    can you summarize why you think there is a compelling case today?
    There are a number of different aspects that I think are important. Some of these have to do with sociological issues and others have to do with the interplay between good science questions and good artistic questions.

    Among the first set is the issue of how do scientists communicate with the public that supports their work. This is one aspect of “outreach”. Here there is a clear connection between research scientists and, for example, exhibit developers at museums. If we want to get the public interested in forefront research, it must be made accessible. Collaboration with artists can make this happen. You see this at some of the great museums like the Exploratorium in San Francisco and, more recently, at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. (There is one thing I would worry about. The big museums, like MSI, are averse to controversy. So, in their new exhibit, I do not think that they really mention anything about global warming – one way or the other. But on the other hand, their new exhibit is visually stunning!)

    Coming to the second set of issues – the interplay between science questions and artistic questions – there is a developing area of modern physics that has the potential to show such overlap. This is the area that goes by the name of soft condensed-matter physics. This area of physics concentrates to a large extent on the non-equilibrium and non-linear and disordered aspects of the material world around us. These are some of the most important and compelling problems in all of science today. I cannot think of an area in which progress in dealing with far-from-equilibrium phenomena would not have a huge potential impact.
    So much of the texture of the world around us is governed by these aspects of physics that we know little about. However, it is just this texture of the world that forms the basis for much art: the subject matter is quite often the same. This is the reason why some of the most effective science/art exhibits deal with this set of phenomena.

    Some of the most cutting-edge restaurants, like Alinea in Chicago, deal with new ways of preparing food that makes use of these soft-matter phenomena (for example, foams or gels.) Many artists, are fascinated by the behavior of sand. This is also an area of active interest in the soft-condensed matter community. Likewise, chaos (how a little bit of a change in the initial conditions can change the outcome) is a theme that goes through modern literature and film. Culture, which encompasses both art and science, has this as a recurring theme. It is studied by both groups.
    Often, the way something looks is important for why we study it. Certainly, in my own case, I have been led to continue our study of fluid phenomena just from the images that their close study produces. I insist that this is not a secondary or unimportant reason to compel our interest. For too long we have tried to separate our curiosity into two distinct and disconnected compartments. What aspects of the world have we missed by doing so?

    We have academic claustrophobia. So often we bemoan the narrowness of our individual vision: we are experts in ever-narrowing realms of knowledge. Especially when dealing with some of the broader scientific questions facing us today, such as the understanding of far-from-equilibrium phenomena. Curiosity and looking for clues in all places is probably essential for developing a new vision.

  4. here is a short statement by leonardo editor and mathematician michele emmer:

    On art and science
    by M. E.

    I believe that collaboration between artists and scientists can play different roles: it allows both to get to know unbeknown ideas and techniques; it allows artists to be informed of what the scientific world is experimenting with; it allows scientists to be in contact with the ideas being developed in the cultures of their own time, contributing to doing away with futile isolations. It is of the utmost importance to study these relations and exchanges in depth in each moment of history and that the results of the research be widely disseminated, including to university and high school students. This will allow them to grasp the complexity of cultures and their common roots. It is all the more important in a period in which specialized knowledge has increased to the extent of jeopardizing a holistic approach that can be projected into the future and that could give meaning to frenetic life. For these reasons I believe that collaboration between scientists and artists is essential.

    One exemplary case is the architect, artist, designer and engineer, Max Bill. He constitutes a great example of all-terrain artist, with scientific knowledge and ability to research the art of his time

  5. from cynthia rubin


    I am searching for the place to post in response to your questions about art and science. I had the page earlier – noted the questions – and now cannot find it

    Below are my comments. Good luck with these sessions – glad that you will be there. I continue to teach “Digital Nature” at RISD. Examples of student work are at:



    One of the questions not asked on this list is:

    How can science help artists to make art?

    How can knowing more about our natural world contribute to what artists do best:

    – examine the ordinary and the extraordinary from a different perspective
    – synthesize information with a personal twist
    – produce work which entices a viewing audience to engage in reflective thought.

    Science certainly can benefit from artists whose come from a different creative path, and who have developed different ways of seeing and thinking.

    Artists need to assert, however, that we have something to contribute beyond illustration. Even if the concepts being illustrated are profound scientific ideas, artists can do more if given access to ideas and equipment. In engaging science artists inspire others to think about the natural world, and may even inspire actual science. Artists can make science one of the topics of our time, one the things that the average person thinks about in life.

    The unfortunate reality in America is that the funding is so equitably on the science side that it is the scientists who hold the keys, literally, to the expensive equipment that is bringing about new ways of seeing our natural world. Artists need access to the powerful microscopes and telescopes, virtual reality environments and other new tools that are too often only available to artists if they agree to serve as illustrators.

  6. reply from rubin

    when you post, I will post this comment:

    Just as the NEA and NSF have special grant categories for cross-cultural programs, one outcome of this meeting could be for a call for a Arts/Science collaboration category of funding

    The reality is that the NEA has no funds for individual artists — and so much funding goes to Museums that living artists are pushed to the side in favor of dead artists. And the NSF wants to see scientific outcomes. We need to get past these barriers.

    As an artist who has been fortunate to have been awarded several individual artist grants from my state, as well as being the recipient of one of the last New England Foundation for the Arts grants back when they gave individual artist grants, I have had more public funding than many artists, but these amounts were so small that when one potential collaborator informed me that to do a project that I proposed I would have to pay for a graduate student’s time, I just had to walk away. Most of us simply do not have that kind of money available to us. I have also been fortunate to have had some great collaborations with computer science researchers. As wonderful as these collaborations were, and as generous as my collaborators have been, we will never be on completely equal territory until the funding issue is addressed. I know that there are some opportunities, but they are few and far between. We need more.


  7. from annick bureaud
    One option : let the artists be utopian and irrealistic, it is there that they can prove to provide the best to society.
    Recent Example : Marko Peljhan, arctic perspective (www.arcticperspective.org) and YES, it takes 10 years to develop something brilliant.

    in other words :
    stop short term marketing applied to art (looking for the next big thing)
    stop turning art into just another consumerist good

    in other words : be it the “art market” or “creative industries”, it does not work ;-))) … may be sometimes yes, to make money, but not to deeply propose new ideas, avenues, etc. at least as far as art is concerned.


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