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

A few days back, I sent a message to all the members of Sci-Art Lab asking them to participate in a research study titled "How scientists look at art" and help the scientists. I , myself, was a participant scientist in the study.

Now the results of the research project carried out by Bayer in conjunction with the University of Reading are out. You can see the full details here:

The main conclusions of the research are:
At the aggregated level of the artwork categories,
no significant difference was observed between Scientists
and the Control group.
At the level of the individual artworks, however, a number
of significant differences were observed. In the Well-known
Masterpieces category, Scientists showed a particular affinity
for the DalÍ artwork with one respondent making a
specific connection between Surrealism and science:
“Surrealism is one of the consequences of scientific thinking.”
A significant difference was also observed in the Still Life
category , where once again the Scientists preferred
the Surrealist Miró portrait. It should be said that reactions to the
Surrealist Magritte Potrait were very different,
showing the power of an individual artwork to transcend
any predictions.
In fact overall, for both the Scientists and the Science Degree
groups, Surrealism was the most preferred art movement,
compared to the Control group who favoured Realism
Significant differences were also observed in the Microscopy
category for both the most and least preferred image. Scientists
preferred the abstract
image to the figurative
image , perhaps responding to its
“particular beauty”. Surprisingly, in choosing the least preferred
image, the Scientists were less averse to the Cancer Cell image
which so alienated the Control. It is probably not surprising that
the highest proportion of significant differences were observed
in this category, since the Scientists would have a professional
take on the images, providing them with a different perspective
and, for example, making
Cancer Cell
less shocking.
We saw at the overall level that respondents most preferred
artworks in the “figurative” category and least
preferred those in the “abstract” category .
However although this preference was confirmed in the
categories of Still Life paintings, Sculpture, Landscapes,
and Well-known Masterpieces, there were counterexamples
where artworks in the “abstract” category were preferred in
the categories Portraits, Microscopy and Conceptual Student
Art. This was due to the outright winner effect. As we can see
  winners in each category scored in the
range 28%-45%, strongly influencing or determining the overall
preference result. So in the Portraits and Microscopy categories,
the “abstract” winners had an average score of 35% (Malevich
and the Xylem), while in the Conceptual Student Art category
the Maria Iordanous piece was the overall winner with 45%.
Once more this shows the ability of a particular artwork to
transcend predictable preferences.
As with the overall analysis, data about preferences was too
dispersed for meaningful comparative analysis. However the
qualitative data suggests that respondents made judgements
along both the “analytical” and “affective” dimensions. On the
analytical axis, preferred artworks were seen as making sense
either in terms of the worldview or story they represented (as
for example in the Caracci portrait), while respondents reacted
strongly against artworks they felt they could not understand or
where the message was thought to be deliberately obscured.
On the affective axis, respondents looked for emotional
appeal, rejecting artworks which seemed “boring” or “bland”.
Most respondents wanted the emotion to be positive and
tended to reject negative images such as those in the Student
Conceptual Art category, although this was not always the case:
for example Simon Morgan’s
Old Sparky
was admired as well
as rejected for its sinister political connotations. Responses
were often highly personal, connecting with the respondents’
moods and experiences. It is probably this feeling of emotional
connection which was behind the frequently-occurring
benchmark criterion of “I would/would not hang this in
my home”.
Respondents also reacted strongly to whether the artworks
seemed beautiful or not. This seemed to be related to skill, with
simple or childish images seen as unattractive. This appeared to
be an overriding criterion.
The winning artworks had the winning combination, perceived
as both intellectually and emotionally meaningful, and beautiful
in some way.
The gender analysis shows a much higher incidence of
significant differences. If we focus on the differences involving
Scientists, we can see that for the
most preferred
differences between Male and Female groups were observed at
both the aggregated level and the level of the individual artworks
in the categories of Well-known Masterpieces and Landscapes,
and at the level of the individual artwork for Conceptual
Student Art.
Differences between Female and Male Scientists
At the aggregated level, Female Scientists were more
likely to prefer “abstract” artworks in both the Well-known
Masterpieces  and Landscape categories,
. This was borne out at the level of the individual
artworks, where Female Scientists were more likely to prefer
the “abstract” artworks .
In the Conceptual Student Art category, the Female
Scientists preferred the winning Iordanous artwork more
than their male counterparts, again showing that they were
more prepared to make the “abstract” choice .
Differences between Female Scientists and Female Control.
At the aggregated level, Female Scientists were more likely
than the Control to prefer “abstract” artworks in both the
Well-known Masterpieces and the Sculpture
categories .
At the level of individual artworks, Female Scientists were
more drawn towards the “abstract” examples in the Well-
known Masterpieces and Microscopy categories , for example showing a bias towards the “abstract”
Kandinsky while the Female Control group preferred the
Impressionist Degas.
Differences between Male Scientists and Male Control
At the level of individual artworks, Male Scientists were more
likely to prefer the figurative Well-known Masterpieces.

In the analysis of the
least preferred
artworks, the trend
for women to be more receptive to the “abstract artworks”
continues. In the Sculpture category, Female scientists
disliked the Figurative Brancusi more than the men, while
the Male Scientists disliked the Abstract Hepworth more
than the women . In the Microscopy category,
Male Scientists disliked the “abstract” examples more.
In the Conceptual Student Art category this trend was
reversed with the Female Scientists strongly disliking the
“figurative” Morgan
Old Sparky
and Male Scientists liking
the “abstract” Lewis piece. This effect seems to be
associated with meaning rather than artwork style, and may
reflect the difficulty of classifying Conceptual Art in this way.
The trend was also reversed in the Microscopy images,
where the Female Control group disliked the figurative
images more, largely due to the
effect discussed above. However this was reversed
between the Male Scientists and Male Control groups,
where the Male Scientists disliked
Cancer Cell
more .
The age analysis also showed some significant differences
between groups. For the
most preferred
differences were found in three groups including Scientist

The research on 'How scientists look at art'  found that Female scientists are more receptive of abstract artworks than their male counterparts, suggesting that they are likely to be open to a more ‘anarchic, creative and radical’ approach to science.
 It suggests that women may bring added creativity and a more challenging approach to science, adding weight to the ongoing, global drive to encourage more women to enter the profession.

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Comment by Liviu Iliescu on December 21, 2013 at 10:20am

This is a scientific study made about the behavior of scientists,

in relation to the arts (fine art).

Evidence of growing interest for all Sciens-Art


  From my point of view the study could be used and in psychotherapy visual

  either adds to the instructions for therapists.


Otherwise I propose an office complex to determine those fine art

 compositions that are beneficial to a patient.

It follows then be treated in a cabinet with simplified features,

  where they are installed types of compositions selected for that patient.


 See links:

Bioptical Art -Cabinet for visual psychotherapy


Interactive program for training in dioptical-bioptical perception


All these surgeries the patient will be taught (urged) to execute

   composition containing the components used in the drawings, which were more

effective treatments, exercises more effective than the sight of them in

professional compositions.


An example link:

Elementary stereoscopic effect


I regret that lack the funds to launch research, funding

we propose laboratory, where research could extend

  (How sciencists look at art)


Benefits arising from the possibility of diversifying tests and making studies through

 measurement of cantitative in same time.

  (measuring appliances of emotional states)

I would like to propose this theme authors examine my proposal,

but I'm not having a recognized scientific platform quit, because

  I found that universities do not respond even with a rejection

 accompanied by a few words of protocol.


I offer free patent and detailed descriptions.


I have to return my hypothesis citing in regards to the ensemble of all art-literature.


   See links:

Abstractizare stimulata

Stimuli-evoked abstractization

(abstraction stimulated by early descriptions)


Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on December 20, 2013 at 6:19am

I think like it is also said in the report, different individuals have different views on art depending on the cultural conditioning of their minds. But for me, a real art work should convey a message something conceived specially and uniquely by the person who perceives things differently from others around him/her. That is real creativity for me.

Even communication through art too is a different way of expressing things. You see art as a way to communicate the messages of science.

Well, scientists look at art in a different way. Art is a way for us to communicate science to illiterates who are highly prevalent in this part of the world. Moreover, it is our experience that when shown in a picture form, children learn science subjects easily.
Art can communicate a science  message. When curators told me people were discussing science standing in front of my art works in galleries now, I was thrilled. When people told me they were discussing science sitting in front of my art works in their living rooms, I was thrilled  because my messages got through.
Like I said before your experience defines what art is for you ( artists) and my experience defines what art is for me and they need not be the same!

People all over the art world are saying my work fits the definition of art- "science based art" to be more specific. If you say it isn't art that communicates science and a new message, and it is just graphics, you really don't know what science based art - not science-art - is!
Definitions can have bases in human experiences, when they are associated with human minds and its work. Art is one such thing based on abstract feelings and experiences. I have heard different artists defining art in different ways and most of them look like true ones!
If you say they are all wrong, I think that is not proper. Anyway your cultural conditioning of mind  refuses to accept it as true.
Science is different though. It works based on a few sets of rules and to define science, the thing you are defining must adhere to the rules.
No such rules in art.  So  anybody can give any definition to art!

One definition of art given by a famous artist here in India: "Art is something that communicates the personal views  of the artist  about the world around him".
The business view of defining art is only one aspect of art defining. There are several others too. For artists - the statements they make almost always start with "for me art is...  " I never heard a scientist say " for me science is..." because there can only be a single definition for science and which is not based on personal experiences and resultant opinions.. Don't refuse  to entertain what different artists say about art and how they define it in several ways, leave alone scientists mentioning them. Well, if artists make incorrect statements and give definitions to their world that are meaningless, there is nothing I can say about it.
I was an artist even before I became a scientist. I have been creating art since my childhood. Now I am both an artist and a scientist.
I say art is based on abstract feelings because no two individuals see and feel things in the same way and different people give different opinions on different things and there is no unity or clarity about things and so they are vague like abstract works.
Science is same for all cultures and is universal in nature. Not art. Art is dependent on the culture it has origins in although some art can agree with other cultures too.
I am not bothered about how philosophers or artists define science because they will be influenced by their ways of seeing things and not based on  facts.
Even if there are rules in art, the unlimited freedom artists seek will make them break them and make them irrelevant..
What scientists say about art is what artists show them as their world. There is no science to it.

Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on December 19, 2013 at 2:49pm


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