SCI-ART LAB

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

Recently a person from the field of science asked me to tell him about the purposes of science-art interactions and whether they are being achieved. So I went on to analyse science-art goals. According to me
Science-art has five main directions:

To communicate science accurately to a lay man  (1).

Art can also criticise and shine a new perspective on science. Science, after all, is a tool and how humanity uses it defines whether it improves our lives or makes it worse. Through art, we can see science in a different light, maybe appreciate it more, understand its meanings better. Art can raise a much more interesting debate about science. It can look into the future and get us thinking about how these advances affect us, be it through art installations or science-fiction books. By talking about these issues now and learning the real facts behind them, society as a whole can take a better decision preferably the right one.

To show the aesthetic values of science to the general public (2). Art – from dance to paintings – can be a source of wonder. It can be appreciated for its aesthetic value but can go much deeper and provide multi-layered interpretations. This overlaps very strongly with science and when the two mix, a thing of beauty can touch peoples' minds in an effective manner. Scientists’ findings about the world can be eerily beautiful. Three-dimensional images of proteins can be stunning to view, as is the gorgeous swirl of DNA. The Hubble telescope’s deep-field images showed us snapshots of stars whose light is nearly 13 billion years old – stunning the world. By learning more about the world around us and how it works, we find it more beautiful and value it more,
Before science figured how brains perceive the world around us, artists were turning 2D art into 3D landscapes using perception techniques. The Impressionists took advantage of the fact that our brain finds images more pleasing when it has to interpret a picture, rather than seeing the obvious.

To show science in a new light to generate a thought process among the people of the scientific community(1). .

To build bridges between the fields of science and art and bring them together.

So far artists could succeed in showing the aesthetic values of science because this is the easiest thing to do.

They have somewhat smudged the first purpose with twists, hyper boles and humour.  Films have  in a way able to communicate science better than other forms of art. Building bridges between art and science is definitely happening. But artists have failed with regard to the third purpose according to several scientists.
The reasons could be - it is easy to show and see the aesthetics of science. As we can see, artists and scientists are coming together more frequently these days out of curiosity to see what they can do with each others' subjects. To communicate science properly, first of all artists should try to understand the theories and themes like a scientist does. Then they should be able to co-relate science and art to present it in a picture form accurately.

Artists will freely admit that if there has to be a choice between scientific accuracy and artistic expression, the science is going to lose every time according to an artist (3)! I want to tell this artist, if this is the case, scientists will lose interest in art because accuracy is one of the most important aspect of science communication!!

In the end what defines a good sci-art work is how well a layman could understand the 'science' theme - not how a scientist or an artist could understand it. In the initial moments of my art career one artist told me there is no need for people to understand art. According to him, The field belongs to intellectuals and it is enough if intellectuals understood it. I don't agree with him. One of the main purposes of sci-art is to communicate science. If a layman cannot understand the 'science' part properly, then it is a definite failure for the artist in the sci-art arena. That is why I always look for the comments of the man on the street on my work, his reaction to my work, how well he understood it - not for the opinions of artists or scientists.

And to show science in a completely new light, artists should deeply love science, get inspired by it, go deep into the subject, understand it accurately and think in creatively new ways to deal with it. Superficial indulgence will not get them anywhere with regard to the first and third purposes.
Let us see whether artists will be able to succeed fully in achieving the main objectives of science-art in the future.

Artists' purpose to deal with sciences is to use new themes, media and technologies.

I was told by my artist friends in the US there are other purposes for the artists in the US: It seems the funds had been dried up in the US  and other Western countries  ( might be due to the recession ) for arts and artists are trying to search for other means to promote art by combining it with science and business and exaggerating the importance of art in other fields.  Also it seems arts had been drastically cut from American public schools. So artists are using the weapon of 'creativity' to promote art by saying they can bring all round development and progress with arts and creativity. Hence, suddenly there is a spurt in science-art interactions.

Some artists and scientists are into it just because of the mimetic effect - they too want to do what others in their fields are doing. Some just  want to experiment with new themes and tools. Science provides this opportunity!

I think science has achieved its purpose., i.e., helping the field of art. Science is helping art in bringing new materials, equipment and technology to create art, identify frauds,  telling which art work is fake and which one is genuine, how to preserve art works for years, bringing underlying aspirations of artists in creating an art work,  explaining neuro-aesthetics of art  to create visually appealing works and therefore  can have good market for it and several other things which have been listed here: http://kkartlab.in/group/Research .

References:

1. http://www.kkartfromscinece.com (science-art section)

2. http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/36123/title/T...

3. http://theadvocate.com/home/7450490-125/intersecting-dance-with-sci...

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Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on May 22, 2013 at 8:46am

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Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on May 15, 2013 at 8:39am

Researchers aren't exactly trying to make a Matisse when they work, however the images above reveal that science can be beautiful. However, sometimes these images can have a very helpful, practical use. "Connections" is the theme of this year's art show because images have played a large role in advancing scholarship. Many breakthroughs in the science world have come from connections made through comparing images of nature's phenomena.
With physics and biology, everyday there is a new finding showing that the two are connected in the most fascinating and profound way," Andrew Zwicker, director of science education at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, said. "In a similar vein, connecting the aesthetics of laboratory images to their scientific importance has transformed how we look at our data and results. With the 2013 Art of Science competition, we are celebrating all manner of connections."

Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on May 15, 2013 at 8:09am

An artist says: Scientists sometimes object to the extrapolation and consequential misrepresentation of scientific concepts in the arts. As an artist making works about quantum physics, my motive is to bring concepts to a wider audience - but not by being didactic - by opening up new ways of seeing reality that will challenge beliefs about conventional reality. Initially my compulsion was to be explanatory of the concepts I was making art about but this methodology compromised artistic integrity & expression. A work of art about science should still inspire some sort of wonder rather than just being illustrative. I'm fine with my audience being left with unanswered questions as long as it may have provoked a journey of inquiry.

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