Lets Forget C.P.Snow and Art vs Science

Here is my response to this invitation: FORGET ARTvs SCIENCE

Roger

Julia Buntaine  wrote:
> For our August anniversary issue, we want to switch things up a little bit
> and hear from our readers. We would like to pose ONE QUESTION to the
> community and publish your thoughts! From a personal story to professional
> experience, any and all opinions are valid. Here’s our question:
>
> How would you describe the nature of the relationship between science and
> art?

Lets Forget C.P. Snow and the Art vs Science Dualism

I think framing the question in terms of the relationship between science and art is a notion that we need to discard, even though the Leonardo Journal has advocated this for fifty years : its an idea whose time has passed.

I think C.P.Snow falsely ‘dichotomised’ the question ( even though he himself was more sublte about it).

Lets stop talking about the relationship between science and art and lets talk about the problems we want to work on and how to bring in the network of knowledge we need. In the recent US National Science Foundation SEAD study ( http://seadnetwork.wordpress.com/white-papers-report/ ) we found that 20% of the 200 peoplewho contributed to the study were ‘hybrids’; they had one higher education degree in science or engineering, and another in arts, design or humanities; or they had dual professions. Robert Root-Bernstein in his longitudinal studies of the most successful scientists and engineers finds that , out of all proportion to less successful scientists, they have engaged in avocations in the arts since an early age. The only people who still think art vs science are funding agencies and university promotion committees !! The hacker and maker movement, citizen science and smart citizen movements make clear that in their daily life people draw on various sources of knowledge to pursue their passions.

Nano scientist Jim Gimzewski recently stated that instead of thinking of inter or multidisciplinarity we need to think integratively- I dont like art-science or artscience either because it fails to integrate other parts of the puzzle-but i use the term and have recently founded an ArtSciLab ( http://artscilab.utdallas.edu ).Roy Ascott thirty years ago advocated we stop using the word “art” because it was misleading in terms of our objectives; the word art is now framed by the art market and art museums but the kind of work we are now involved in escapes those institutional frames. In their recent Leonardo Book “Re-Collection: Art, New Media and Social Memory” ( http://re-collection.net/) Richard Rinehart and Jon Ippolito insist that the new media arts are social activities that need to be embedded in the creation of social memory, which are not practices that art institutions are expert at; we need to draw on the social sciences and anthropology among other approaches

So lets find other ways than thinking about bridging the arts and sciences, and think of metaphors that have to do with the dynamic network of knowledge rather than frozen ontologies in the forms of trees of knowledge.

C.P. Snow was on the founding editorial board of Leonardo Journal and a friend of my father Frank Malina the founding editor; Leonardo Journal was conceived fifty years ago coming out of discussions between people like Snow, Jacob Bronowski, Julian Huxley, Buckminster Fuller, Joseph Needham. If you re read C.P. Snow you will see that his concern was less the art vs science, but the issue of economic development in developing countries and how the techno-sciences could fuel that development..That issue is still with us.

Roger F MalinaOn Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 10:59 AM, SciArt in America <sciartinamerica@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello!
>
> For our August anniversary issue, we want to switch things up a little bit
> and hear from our readers. We would like to pose ONE QUESTION to the
> community and publish your thoughts! From a personal story to professional
> experience, any and all opinions are valid. Here’s our question:
>
> How would you describe the nature of the relationship between science and
> art?
>
>
> Take care!
>
> Julia Buntaine
> Editor-in-Chief, SciArt in America

2 Comments

  1. Roger and Julia,

    I think it´s time that my ideas about artscience and community development can get some traction in the US.

    Precisely, as Snow suggest, I´ve been honing my experience in the last 17 years with, “the issue of economic development in developing countries and how the techno-sciences could fuel that development”…specifically in Mexico, Spain and Malaysia. I will be returning back to my hometown area of Dallas/Fort Worth to continue my work.

    The Pop-Up ArtScience Lab will partner with local institutions for exhibits, fabrication and social enterprise.

    From one of my essays: Evolutionary Systems Design: ArtScience In Development is an experience of systems and societal transformation. Societies driven by the knowledge economy shape cities and regions through an innovative and integral form of culture – artscience. Artscience as an emerging social innovative practice is guiding strategic decision-making, development policy, and sociocultural practice. Learning communities informed through the tools of artscience attune to humanitarian and environmental challenges. Artscience and emergent evolutionary learning communities are contributing to new research, learning, and practice. Succinctly, artscience practitioners are initiating social designs within cities and villages, and by extension regions to creatively meet society´s challenges.

  2. A couple of things come to mind, as this topic is significant to my dissertation research.

    It seems that the definition of art and science engagements is set in this commentary, as “new media arts” which is technologically- and image-based, and as a single-author-as-“hybrid” endeavor. However, there are numerous examples of art and science interactions which are neither of these (i.e., the creative writers at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, and the ecological artists Helen and Newton Harrison for a start).

    Artists have long worked to escape from the art market and its institutional frames. I don’t know that the word “art” is necessarily inappropriate, but suggest that perhaps the market is extraordinarily nimble and capable of appropriating just about anything. New media arts may critique the market, but, after all, the technology it employs is also dependent upon it. There seems to be a question remaining of exactly what is being escaped.

    Finally, the “vs.” of art and science is certainly problematic, as Malina has pointed out in essays on a third culture and translation as a device and metaphor that can navigate the “between” of art and science. But I wonder how the field and the term can be opened up, rather than snapped up by technology and hybrid individuals.