Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

Two days back while I was searching for synonyms and antonyms for some words on internet dictionary sites, I was shocked to see that on some of them art was given as an antonym for science! The gray cells of my brain went into intense activity immediately and started analyzing scientific and artistic sides of my personality and mind to see whether there was any truth in it.

Although science and art are dealt in two different ways, developed and evolved as two separate fields, they are coming together again in recent times. Art and science are related in several ways ( please read my thoughts on this subject here: ). According to old misconceptions, creativity comes mostly from the emotionally charged right part of the brain that doesn't deal with things rationally and logically. Scientific theories and thoughts originate in the other part of the brain (there are different theories that are coming out about functions of different parts of the brain in recent times, and the left part for science and right part for art is not actually correct according to these and whole brain works at different degrees in all most everything we do). Left brain or right brain works doesn't mean they are completely opposite. Leonardo da Vinci  disproved that these two fields are poles apart and  couldn't be dealt with a single brain at the same time. It is my endeavour to prove that these two fields could be brought together and made to live in harmony in a single box of grey matter.

I can use all parts of my brain simultaneously without any problem. Even while creating art works, I can think rationally and logically. Science has influence on my art and art too has some influence on my scientific thinking. In my mind I don't see worlds of difference between these two fields. 

Yes, science demands thinking at higher levels with logic and rationale. Creating art is easy and you walk here on a beaten track and the destination is preconceived in the mind of the creator. Scientific exploration is much more difficult and complex and one has to create new paths into unknown lands.

Although human emotions (yes, you can work in the field you love) come into picture in the scientific field - as is the case with all the ones where people are involved - they are not important at all like in the field of art. Therefore, a scientific mind tries to keep emotions at bay while working and this is important to clear the path while searching for truth and facts. It cannot allow emotions to fog the picture. A scientist cannot say " Because I love this - this is the truth!" or " Because I believe in this theory - this must be a fact!"

An artist has this luxury of emotions playing a major part in his work. He can push all rationale out of the window and say, " Because I love this - this is the truth and therefore I can create my work very beautifully!" He can live in a world of illusion or dreams if he wants. And there is no harm in it as long as his beliefs don't harm or affect others drastically. And in an emotionally charged right part of the brain creative sparks originate, develop and flourish.

A poet describes the moon as a beautiful object. An artist paints it in all splendid colours. An astrophysicist sees it as a natural satellite of earth with rocks and no atmosphere or life. When I think about moon as an artist, I feel happy because I could see it as an object of beauty - shining like a silver ball in the dark sky. And when I think about moon as a person from the field of science, I can still see the beauty of scientific theories like gravity, time, space and how wonderfully they are followed in this universe. Science too has a pretty view!

Now am I thinking as a creative person or as a person of rational thinking? Do these thoughts from different angles drastically change the perception of beauty? Not at all! These things don't have a clearly marked line between them in my mind! Then how can they be separate?! I feel these things are associated with human training of the mind. Your beliefs, dogmas, thoughts, opinions could have tremendous affect on how you perceive things in the art world. And science doesn't give you this choice. You got to see them in the true way in the latter case. With the right attitude you can see beauty of things both scientifically and artistically at the same time. You can think rationally about art too! Maybe I am lucky to be able to view the world from two different angles and  still see the beauty of it all!

There is a leaf or a flower. An artist enjoys the beauty of it superficially - yes only superficially. A scientist takes the help of a microscope or a spectrometer and sees the inside beauty as well. Believe me the whole picture is more beautiful  - as you go to cellular, molecular and atomic levels to understand it fully - you see more rhythm and beauty in the creations of nature. The experience of observing nature in its full splendor is more wonderful and thrilling. It is a new world. Trying to understand the world fully  is a heavenly feeling. A scientist can see more in this world than an artist!

Although scientific way of seeing things is deep, it is only an extension or expansion of observing beauty artistically. I don't think these two are opposite  ways. When artists try to draw pictures of what they see outside, scientists try to construct things that are deep inside. While artists see only a part of the picture, scientists see the whole picture!

An artist can close his mind whenever he wants and can still go ahead with his work (here "closing mind" refers to new thoughts, ideas and work of other people not about his own work or hand movements!!)   but in Science if you close your mind, that will be the end of your journey! This is because in art people create isolated works of different types but in science most of the work is inter-dependent as we live in an universe that is governed by the same laws of Nature!

You can break rules ( formulated by some people although they are not absolute ones) while creating art and can still produce masterpieces and in science if you don't follow rules of the nature, disaster strucks and you will be doomed ( can you disobey laws of gravity etc. while sending rockets into space?!) .

Yes, in art you have more freedom than in science.

In Science your work speaks for itself and you but in art you got to speak for your art and promote yourself to succeed.

These differences are not big enough to make art antonym for science.

Has at any time a conflict occurred in my mind because of art and science residing side by side there? No. Never!

Drawing figures of all that I see and observe in the scientific studies, research and exploration is a part of my work. I never think or treat it as a different field or entity. It is a part of science! If drawing figures is also art - how can it be an antonym for science? I don't understand how anyone can throw these two into opposite sides and say science and art are antonyms for each other! People who can use their brains  holistically  can disprove this antonym myth.

Just because the left part of the brain is more active in scientists and the right part in artists, can we say they are opposite? It is the same brain  ( or the same mind) that is working! A scientist can make the right part of his brain active too like I do and an artist can become a rational- thinking person. My mind and brain work as a single unit both when I am creating art and working on science problems. Maybe because I mostly create art works based on science and science is integral part of whatever I do, I don't see much difference. Yes, there are differences between how a scientist works and how an artist works but they are not completely opposite! My mind says: Battle of right brain vs. left brain?  Why not use both?

Sorry, my rational and logical thinking mind doesn't allow me to put science and art on opposite poles. And I can say with confidence that anybody who tries to create rift between these two doesn't know how to use his or her brain the right way!


(Here, in this part of the world, people say when your works and deeds help others and the society in general  in any possible way that is the right way of doing things. If they cause harm and ill will, that is the wrong way! Of course these are relative terms and definitions for right and wrong differ from place to place.)


Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa

Copyright © 2011


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I can understand, Giulia. Everybody gets attracted to interesting stories of falsehood but truth will be not so interesting. That is how falsehood gets spread in no time. Many people don't get attracted to bland truth! Moreover the fear of unknown always make people take refuge in  baseless beliefs. I wrote a short story on this very topic titled "How superstition wins over Science". One of my close friends here is a victim of this superstition and I watched it with my own eyes how she suffered because of the spread of false stories about her house. This story is about her real story. It has been  my endeavour to make ordinary people understand the scientific way of thinking and see truth and not falsehood. I know that is how I get entangled in fights with people who spread falsehood but still we people continue our fight on falsehood. The tough still get going when the going gets tough! My only request is please try to  consider the other view points too.  Only rational thinking can sort out the problem. 

I painted two  pictures on this topic. You can see them here:

As people like ghost stories and believe them, I took the help of ghosts to make my point clear although I don't believe in ghosts!
Have a nice day

giulia occorsio said:

I speak as an artist and no a scientist: the effect is equivalent Pauli, indeed, the scientist "non-interventionist" Pauli surreal to an artist that breaks through the reality little coded solutions ...

I found a wonderful comment on pseudo-science in Scientific American. Here it is for all of you to read and ponder:

The reason theoretical physics and the science of quantum mechanics are heading in the pseudoscience direction is because humanity's current standard scientific practices cannot yet explain the biggest questions out there. We know that when the observer (scientist) witnesses an elementary particle that the act of observation itself 'changes' (for lack of a better term) the particle. What this tells us is that all matter (as we know it) is fickle at best, hence the holographic principle.

It may be possible that we will never find the edge of the universe or the smallest element that we and all matter is made of because the act of observing with intent therefore creates reality. The fact of the matter is, that matter is not the substance of the universe, it is consciousness.

We live in a hologram and the reality we experience is a constant creation of consciousness and we humans are biological computers and consciousness conductors.

How's that for pseudoscience :-)

That "people change things by taking measurements", or "when we observe things we change the nature of the reality we observe". It is actually the particle exchange that changes reality. Whether or not humans ever look at the particle exchange is immaterial.

Dear Krishna,

your "Ghost in the head" is very convincing and I think to you as a women of clair science and an artist simply and effective. Superstition catch many people, but, as you said: it need to respect all points to see also!

Best regards...

I disagree with you when you say to understand Nature you need a different out look than that of the one scientists have. Can only artists ( with their way of seeing Nature differently) understand and enjoy Nature in a better way? I beg to differ. I wrote an article on this and posted on my network Art Lab. It is titled " Is art antonym for science". An artist or an ordinary person can see a leaf only superficially. A scientist can see it at the atomic level and can still marvel at the miracles of Nature. That is seeing more than others can do and still enjoying it. An artist can see the moon as a silver ball hanging in the sky and enjoy it. A scientist can go further and think in terms of space, time, gravity and can still have a wonderful feeling when all these are followed by planets and their satellites in a beautiful rhythum of Nature! I am a scientist, an artist, a writer, a poet, a designer and I don't think a scientist  needs a different outlook to enjoy nature. You can enjoy Nature with the view of a scientist too and it is as beautiful as the ones others have and in a way more wholesome! Because you can see the whole picture not a partial one like the others do!

You said: "Science today is moving in a destructive direction, that is towards generation of more randomness rather than stability"

Science itself is not bad. The way you use it can be good or bad. The benefits of Science and technology are like knives. You can use them for cutting fruits and vegetables and also to spill blood. It is up to you which way you want to go. The choice is yours ( I painted a picture based on this very theme). It has become fashionable to criticize Science and technology for all the evils we face in today's world.. Science is looking bad because we don't know how to use it in a proper way! It is like a bad worker complaining about his tools!

Mrs Munmun S Deshpande said:

Very well said maam, this is what i wanted to reflect, that Scientists often boast of knowing the maximum but to understand Nature we require different outlook, that of an artist, of a philosopher, of just a careful observer. Science today is moving in a destructive direction, that is towards generation of more randomness rather than stability. We are just digging the soil, pumping water, using technology to check what phenomenon  is responsible. But we fail to see the way nature in adjusting to the randomness. I will give u a small example. We often find ants bringing mud inside our house to build nest at door- corners. It is really very annoying site to see that dug mud springing on the clean floor. Now take the case of the development of science...If the earth is a clean floor and the technocrat humans are the ants..then i think we should also be treated by nature the same way we treat the ants (tortured till dead) How far the scientific community is right is still a question. I apologize for being a bit critical over the scientific community but being in the same profession, i am myself seeking the truth  
( My reply elsewhere but still relevant to this topic  - Krishna)

What was the question again?

No, I don't see them as antonyms; but that is because of my study of the history of Western Science and Art. Does that deeper probing make me a Scientist? Highly doubtful. It just means I have a curiosity about certain things which leads me to research them further. That is part of my character. Is that an Artist's character? Yes (9 generations of it). In order to be a practicing Artist/Designer you need to be observant (all senses) and tenacious- passion is not enough. Is that in a Scientist's character? You tell me.

So, you say- fine for origins but what about today? Here is what I do know- Art- the best kind- the lasting kind- is layered and holds to universal truths. It speaks to people of many backgrounds (Universality).  The more you know about the subject of the Art the more you will get out of the Art (Layers of meaning). This has become especially true with 20th century Art (The Painted Word, Tom Wolfe). Research today's Artists and you will find observant, tenacious, passionate practitioners.

Listen, if you wish,  to Anish Kapoor's description of "Memory"

The character and the process remains consistent- but the goals - are the goals different? IMO this is probably the key difference. In Art we seek the "audience" to have individual answers and experiences and connect with themselves and others from a new perspective.  We seek to reveal the human experience and (sometimes) manipulate it. In Science (outsider's observation) you are looking for Answers through measurable phenomenon.

One of my favorite stories:

For your amusement:

and something I learned many many years ago:

If we shadows have offended, think but this; and all is mended that you have but slumbered here while these visions did appear and this weak and idle theme no more yielding but a dream. Gentles--do not reprehend if you pardon, we will mend. And, as I am an honest Puck if we have unearned luck. Now to scape the serpents tongue. We will make amends ere long else the Puck a liar call. So--goodnight unto you all. Give me your hands if we be friends. And Robin shall restore amends.

Thank you, Ms. Childs. It took me this long to watch the video and go through the stories and discussion. Sorry for the delay in giving you a reply.

Anish Kapoor's work was like what we see in old rugged  railway stations everywhere in India. But when we hear him, we find different meanings in the stuff. But somehow I feel it is a bit hollow.

I liked the story of the animals. Yes, different people attribute different meanings to art. Art is of two types - thinking art and non-thinking art! I have seen several people just copying others' work and also from Nature like flowers etc. You need not think much when you do such "art - or artifacts"! For me thinking art is the real art. But only a minority of people really "think" before creating art. Because, you observe, think, imagine different pictures with different meanings in your mind and then really " create" art. Yes, some artists are really intelligent and genuine and some are just smart - they create interesting designs with words and pictures and try to mesmerize people. 

Regarding art and science I am writing a blog - still has to add some stuff to it - differences between art and science - people think they are similar, but there are a few differences- I am trying to sort them out- a bit difficult because I am a whole brain person and it is really difficult for me to differentiate between things that interplay with one another in my mind but I accepted the challenge. I still have to get clarity but added it anyway. You can read it here:




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