Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication
On an on line art forum when I said thinking for scientific research is more complex than thinking about creating art works, some artists didn’t agree with me. They said the thought processes that lead to scientific research and creating art are the same! No matter how much I tried to analyze from their point of view, my rational mind didn’t agree with them! And I am pretty sure, they are not the same! I will give reasons why.
While doing scientific research or working on a problem in science, you got to think about hundreds of things and you need high resolution thinking and have a very clear picture of what you are aiming at and how to get there faultlessly and get results that are acceptable to the rules of science. It doesn’t suffice if you are convinced about the sincerity of your work in science. You should also get an approval from your peers. If you don’t follow these rules with clinical precision, you are not only likely to fail but the results also might have disastrous consequences especially in fields like space and medicine.
My artist friends also said that there could be no good or bad art and no good or bad science and everything is relative. Yes, in art you cannot say what is good with certainty as there may not be fixed values for deciding good works or bad works ( which cannot be done accurately because your opinions are just based on perceptions which differ from person to person and place to place) but in science we have definition for good science! Majority of scientists and science journals follow it and it says: If you can get to the bottom of facts following rules and try to unravel the mysteries of Nature and in turn if these can be used to help the world, it is good science. If you use unlawful means to arrive at conclusions and try to manipulate things to show that your beliefs or ideas are right or if your work harms the world that is bad science! This definition could be arrived at because of universal outlook of science ( You can read more on it here: http://kkartlab.in/profiles/blogs/good-and-bad-in-science-and-art ).
I will give a few examples here. Let me choose first my own field – Microbiology. While doing research on toxins produced by microbes – I will have to keep several things in mind – like types of microbes using ( eg., bacteria and fungi ), media on which they can be grown, the biological necessities of microbes like water, food etc., to produce toxins, favourable and unfavourable conditions like Ph of the medium, temperature, moisture interference of other living organisms around them, conditions in the lab versus natural ones and several other factors that could influence each thing given above and analyse every aspect thoroughly. If I miss even a single parameter, the entire experiment goes wrong and everything will become a waste. When you are dealing with such complexity your mind will be always on fire. Peer reviewing is one aspect every scientist is bothered about when your peers sometimes try to rip you apart if you don’t do things properly and they do it armed with proof, facts and rules and you just can’t refuse their arguments and defend against full proof weaponry. And we all recognize the importance of such checks and balances for science to prosper and help mankind and scientists accept them without any protest. Emotions have no place in science.
I want to give another example regarding to space research. If you want to send an astronaut into space, can you imagine what amount of research goes into the effort? It is simply mind blowing! The scientists have to think about gravity, a spaceship that can withstand the journey – which again depends on several parameters, fuel efficiency, astronaut’s comfort, cosmic rays, temperature, lack of oxygen, vacuum, Biology and hundreds of details that can effect each of these. It is not possible to outsiders to even grasp the enormity of it all. Even if one parameter is not measured or considered properly, the entire project will fail putting the lives of the astronauts at risk. Can you imagine how much brain power goes into it? How much reasoning power will be utilized? How many years of dedicated work goes into it to make the project full proof?
After a complex, rational and critical thinking about scientific problems I always felt mentally exhausted because it drained a lot of my energy! On the other hand thinking theme presentation in art made me relaxed!
Now tell me is art so complex? Not at all! Apart from the theme all that art need to think about is colour, composition, surface and methodology (techniques – which again take the help of science for creating works with longer lasting effects). Even other art forms need not follow such complex thought processes as science does. Art is an exploration of visual science with regards to emotions and psychology and many other aspects of our conscious and sub-conscious. But do all these need deep rational analysis like scientific research? I even wondered whether I am putting limits to the potential of these fields by defining a mode of operation onto them. I analysed to see whether my creative processes is different from the artists who got academic training in the field. I have read somewhere that while science tries to make complicated things easy, art tries to make simple things complicated. Because of my training in science, am I trying to make art easy too unlike artists?
I have seen artists creating one to two pieces per day - although the products of such works cannot be of high quality. I know high quality works can take years to complete but still they don't take as much effort as scientific research which might take several years of dedicated work involving more than one brain. If art is complex how is this possible? Even in other art forms like music, theater and film making, processing of art creation is definitely simple. If you are not able to do things properly in art that doesn’t effect others much. Therefore checks and balances are not that important in art making it much simpler to create and play with. Mistakes and flaws are accepted as normal in art. If an artist says the thought processes are same for both art and science, I can say with cent percent confidence s/he doesn’t know anything about scientific research. Period.
If art is as complex as science, would I and others who didn't have any training in the subject be able to cross-over to the field so easily? Tell me can a person from pure art cross-over to science in the way we did to art and other fields?
I have an interesting story to tell. We have started some on line courses in Bioptical art. When we announced it several artists showed interest in the course. More than 35 people joined it. But soon all of them started giving excuses to skip it saying that they don't understand anything and the course is too scientific for them to understand and stopped following it! The instructor made it very easy and tried to help but all that went in vain! Artists find it too complex to understand the techniques. Or is it a mental block for complex science? On the contrary I have noticed majority of artists are just trying to copy science illustrations from text books which is the easy way to do and say they too can create( ? what is it creation? ) science-art!
Yes, there are simple things in science even a child can follow and there are complex things in art that everybody cannot understand but these are a few exceptions - not rules.
The emotions with which artists get involved with their work make them think that they spend the same amount of time, energy and brain power on art as scientists do on science. This emotional attachment makes them refuse to see the truth. This article is not trying to find out which one is superior – art or science. Both have their own importance in this world. Neither is it trying to give more weightage to science. It is written to put facts before people and tell them why I say what I say. Now over to the world for its consideration….