Thursday, April 9, 2009


This blog has been set up by a scientist and an artist to encourage people to talk about creative relationships between art and science.

Our starting proposition is that a scientist measures relationships between objects in the existing universe. The artist discerns such relationships and restates them in highly personal clarified forms. Science is about discerning a pattern of function in ideas about the objects and their relationships. Art is about discerning a pattern of being in ideas about objects and relationships. Both scientists and artists are engaged in understanding' the universe – the one using mainly intellect, the other using mainly emotion. Both of them make extracts from the universe. Both use the terms truth' and 'beauty' to describe the quality of their discoveries. What causes them to extract a fragment of the world is the love of the pattern. The artist presents it to us purged of its functional trappings, as a thing admirable not because it works but because it is. Love of the spiral of a nautilus shell is common to artists and scientists. It is the inevitable result of the growth of the shellfish. Scientists have discovered the laws of growth from which it derives its own mathematical formula. But the same spiral in a work of art is there merely because the curve pleased the artist's eye. He may have guessed intuitively at its mathematical basis, but his only excuse for using it is his delight in the curving line it makes.

The artist can no more create beauty than the scientist can create truth. In art, the pattern-possibilities of the human body are inexhaustible. The set of patterns discovered by the Greeks was not exhausted by Pheidias. Michelangelo tapped another seam, Rubens another, Degas another. In our own time, Lucien Freud and Andrew Gormley have made fresh additions. Each new discovery has thereby added to our sense of beauty. Beauty in Nature is a product of the mathematical behaviour of Nature, which in its turn is a product of function; whereas beauty in art is a product of man's love of the mathematics of Nature based on his intuitive understanding of it. In summary, the scientists creates paradigms to explain the functional origin of pattern and the artist creates objects to explain his feelings about pattern.

The following two quotations are representative of an artist and a scientist's views on the common ground of creativity.

"As I watched my sister, a developmental biologist, from a distance in her own environment, I could tell that her lab processes were not that different to my studio ones. In science at the bench as much as the potter at his wheel or the sculptor at his block of wood there is a process of preparedness, some questions posed early on and a distinct feeling of grafting away until a result wins through.

There follows a period of stepping back; more questions, what does the result say to me? How can I change the outcome? Is there anything that failure can teach me? And then back again to retry or reshape the work in hand." .....Helen Storey

The creative artist is an observer whose brain works in new ways making it possible to convey information about matters that were not a subject for communication before. The discoveries of the artist and the scientist are exactly alike in this respect. Artists have discovered new aspects of space with one symbolism just as physicists had with another.... J. Z. Young

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