A personal perspective on the art/science divide (Daniel Waltrip)

As soon as the I sat on the first lecture for this class, I knew I had made a good choice when selecting classes. A more math/science oriented person, I hoped since that since the title contained “science and technology”, I would be avoiding a class solely based on art and the humanities. The concept of actually taking these two separate worlds and merging them was an idea that both surprised and interested me greatly. After doing the readings and seeing the preview of what we shall be investigating in the coming weeks, I realized how cool and exciting this topic actually is.

I have always enjoyed art and human expression, but never been particularly skilled in such areas. Once high school started, my only true personal exposure to art was through a summer ceramics class, which was actually quite fun and invigorating. It seems to me that unless one’s passion is in art or a related field, they will confine themselves to pursuing other subjects. Their is some crossover of course, but generally people choose a path, and fail to see the connections that said path has with other paths that may seem very different. Stereotypes are a major cause of this problem. Scientists may view artists as either incapable or unwilling of grasping the true meaning and ramifications of scientific principles and properties, and also might not understand the purpose or reason that artists spend so much effort on something that might seem somewhat “useless” when viewed with the cold, mechanical lens of science. Artists, however, wonder why science cannot understand or appreciate the beauty and creativity that they work so hard to manifest through in their work.

These differences are quite evident in today’s society, yet I personally see the divide as somewhat of a superficial issue. The functional purpose of science is to study the world around us and devising a fluid system of laws, principles, and ideas to describe the universe in which we live. Art is free expression, and is a positive, necessary part of being human. However, it doesn’t directly contribute to the core purpose of science. This is not to say that these two worlds should not be mixed. I just don’t see it as a life-threatening problem to be solved.

On the other hand, we can come up with some pretty cool stuff when these two cultures are mixed. Take fractal art as an example: http://exoteric.roach.org/bg/index.html


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