Open Letter to Artists and Scientists

To the Artist:

 

The modern artist is stuck, cornered by his predecessors. In their pure forms, the visual arts have been thoroughly explored, leaving no room for anything but repetition. To transcend this, the artist must look beyond his native discipline. During the Renaissance, art was closely tied to science. These artist scientists saw no distinction between the disciplines. DaVinci explored imaginative machines while Filippo Brunellesch was concerned with perspective. Both were scientists and artists at once.

 

There was a split. Suddenly, artists were creating art ‘for the sake of art’. The discipline was revolutionized and swept away by a plethora of new genres and ideas, studying and deconstructing art, asking the question: What exactly is art? Like science, it became an entity separate from the rest of the world. Art was reinvented, twisted around, re-represented, deconstructed, reconstructed, repackaged and refurbished. That exploration and inquiry has reached its end. There is no more to do. The nature of art is understood, and any further explorations risk redundancy. There is now opportunity to reclaim what art once had. It can once again be integrated into the rest of the world, into every area of study, into people’s life, not as art but as an integral and inseparable fact of existence. To re-integrate science into the realm of art is to reawaken a dying discipline. It is at once cutting edge and an ancient but incompletely explored area of study. The time has come to re-examine the masters who we hail as so grand, and to pick up where DaVinci and his contemporaries left off; unexplored territory.
          

 

To the Scientist:

 

            Science has become the backbone of our modern existence, yet the scientists behind the discoveries are isolated from all but their fellow researchers. The ideas that take so much money, time, dedication, and precision to achieve are lost on all but a few. Even when recognized by the public, the discoveries are often not appreciated as anything more than some ephemeral idea that has lead to the latest iPhone app, a new household product, or the streamlining of some process. The grandeur scientific discovery is reduced to convenience features.

 

            These discoveries deserve to be celebrated by more than the educational elite. Researchers agree that everyone could be impressed by the scientific frontier, if it were only accessible. With science education and outreach being a requirement for many grants given out by NSF and other scientific funding sources, the question then becomes how to effectively give this information to the masses. Public lectures and non-technical publications most often engage an audience that has a pre-established interest in scientific disciplines, while failing to draw anyone else. Vocabulary can make the material seem dry, inapplicable, and abstract. To engage those who would otherwise loose interest, an effort must be made to communicate in a language they understand.

 

When confronted with an art piece that deals with a scientific issue, it is not necessary for one to have any background, or even any interest in science. The art piece can be appreciated for it’s aesthetic, thus grabbing the attention of an otherwise uninterested audience. The viewer inevitably learns a little bit about the science behind the art, on a conscious or subconscious level. If someone is engaged by art, their natural tendency is to explore what it is about the piece that engages them. If behind the art is a scientific concept, then the viewer will inevitably be exploring that concept.