Many of us in the arts now feel we have to prove our worth and relevance by building partnerships with and serving other fields. I work with scientific ideas and imagery, and this has been my experience. As someone who has spent most of her career working in the sci-art genre, I am often called upon to identify ways to draw more science and technology professionals into our field—but art's function is not to translate science. Data visualization can produce remarkable schematic forms, but it is not art. An illustration paired with scientific text aids the language of science, but is not art. These are supporting actors. They will never be offered the leading role.
When we incorporate science into our work, we are making no claim to be scientists. We are not appropriating scientific research and calling it our own. We are not re-presenting scientific findings in a visual format, factually or abstractly. We are not remotely suggesting our work is their work manifested as a painting, a sculpture, a computer animation, or an installation.
While I can’t speak for all artists, my observation has been that artists are drawn to the wonder of science. As Robert Krulwich of RadioLab says, “The world is a rich, fantastic place, and all you have to do is scratch anywhere, and there it is, but it starts with a belief in wonder and curiosity.” This terrain is not exclusive to science: we share this common ground. We share a sense of purpose. We research. We share tools and materials. We both conduct field studies. We observe. We reflect. An openness to new ideas and information is a cornerstone of both our fields. We share interests in the not- knowing and the pursuit of answers that result in more questions.
Both scientists and artists simply wonder… What if? We share this impulse with the farmer, the chef, the parent, the writer, and the auto mechanic, not just with scientists. For each of us What if? is the starting point for further investigation.
And if we’re honest, it’s fine to go our separate ways after sharing this common ground. In the studio, What if? leads to an active response, resulting in real-time, here-and-now movement. I am not looking for a scientist’s evidence-based language to support a hypothesis. The outcome for me is a work of art divested of facts and purpose but imbued in beauty and poetry. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
LORRIE FREDETTE is an Hudson Valley-based artist whose work is influenced by medical and environmental news stories.
Asja Bakićs SweetlustBy Yvonne C. Garrett
FEB 2023 | Books
Asja Bakić writes with rare wit about lust, love, science, the climate disaster, time travel, and even provides a female take on the sufferings of Goethes Young Werther.
Robert Irwin: New WorkBy Robert C. Morgan
MAY 2022 | ArtSeen
Here I am reminded of the writer Vladimir Nabokovs modestly controversial definition of art as precision in contrast to science, which he described as intuition. In the case of Irwin, however, the perceptual aspect found in recent works holds a certain balance between the two: here precision and intuition come together.
The Slowest Wave – Dancing for DataBy Dillon Heyck
FEB 2023 | Dance
A striking collaboration between neuroscientists and contemporary butoh dancers culminated in a moving assemblageJapanese dance, EEG technology, databases, light, pregnancy, science writing, and emergency alarms remixed with house beats. Vangelines The Slowest Wave is a hybrid work featuring choreography inspired not only by deep psychological sensuousness but also material, electromagnetic properties of the body.
Dewey Crumpler: Painting Is an Act of Spiritual AggressionBy Jonathan Goodman
APRIL 2022 | ArtSeen
Dewey Crumplers excellent show at Derek Eller Gallery comprises many paintings given to his compelling mixture of imagery: quotations of major modernist art, groups of faceless figures in gray hoodies, and science-fiction designs or templates that skew toward something approaching an otherworldly realm.