Thursday, March 8, 2007

Scott: Response to Carnie

From: Jill Scott
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2007 11:29:49 +0100

Dear Andrew, Thank you for your questions

In my original quote I said "the beauty of scientific images (like those from the SEM -the Scanning Electron Microscope) is in itself very problematic and a deep challenge for any artist. In response I offer some comments to your questions.
In what way is this true?
From my experience so far, there are two problems here. Firstly natural scientists have a rather old fashioned view of the relation between beauty and art and they often perceive their own images (e.g. nanoscale images) as art. Secondly, artists feel intimated by these images, as they are so seductive and in a way sacred. It is difficult to imaging using them in an art context. In other words they may not inspire an interpretation because they are such a strong structural statements in themselves about a certain part of the body or plant or substance. These images are often the essential ingredients of that object.
How do you overcome it yourself?
Currently I am trying to build an inverted retina (a commission for a neuroscience lab) and I am hoping to abstract essential forms and shapes from microscopic images to build the mediated sculpture. So abstraction is one way to deal with the problem. But there must be other ways and I would hope that further brainstorming could help artists in this regard.

Are there art market pressures to conform to a type of beauty or aesthetic?
Yes and no! I have to say I am really not concerned with the art market, I would prefer to have an audience who is interested to learn and think.
How inbuilt is this aesthetic to every human or is it cultural? Our primal reaction to beauty is absolutely a genetic trait, we all respond in similar ways to sunsets or to micro images of our own heart cells beating. Cultural influences sway interpretations so we really have to care about them too.

What are the particular pitfalls in the art/sci sci/art arena?
I have a long list of problems about this issue, but I will present them in the form of questions. So perhaps you could suggest which ones you would like us to discuss and I hope others may also join in. Perhaps they can be reposted to the others.
Here they are:

1. How necessary are disciplinary hierarchies for art and science researchers?
2. How can we promote know-how transfer between art and science?
3. Can methods or methodologies be shared?
4. What do the terms "radical" and "ethical" mean in art compared to science? Is there a concept of value-free science?
5. Can consideration of place, community or culture affect scientific search for empirical knowledge?
6 Do art and science share similar attitudes towards creativity and innovation? Do differences in these definitions have any impact on gender and representation?
7. How do artists relate to terms like " technical progress" and "information society"? Does capitalist ideology help science and their related businesses or does it hinder production or deter progress generally?
8. If artists share more poetic metaphors with scientists, will the results be more suitable for tele-visual literate societies?
9. How does the public benefit from art embedded with scientifically robust knowledge? Could psychological evaluation help art and science to communicate more clearly to the public?



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