Re: Art and Science

From: Klas Boivie (
Date: Tue Mar 23 1999 - 21:55:34 EET

Hello again,

That's a great quote Michael! But there is one fundamental difference
between art an science/technology in their purest forms that gives the
science/technology the authority that art is lacking;
-Science/technology has a measurable effect. The function can be tried,
rejected, appreciated, improved, -whatever, but it can be experienced by
anyone that knows how to apply it.

A pure work of art on the other hand can only have an effect by the
response it stirs in peoples minds. I dont think I am entirely wrong when I
claim to quote Chagall in his reaction to cubeism: "It is surely great art,
but I don't understand it."

A great work of art can stir different effects in a large group of people.
(Who would never agree on what's so great about that specific work of art.)
That is one reason why a work of art can be invalueble, whereas the price
of science & technology quite easily can be calculated.

It might be over-simplistic to say that "science and engineering is art,
with a measurable effect" (I'm not quite sure about that one, I have think
it over for some time.)
An argument along that line is: (and also
dangerously close to midweek funnies)

But to balance the "crazy artists" the modern western culture has got its
fair share of "nutty professors", "mad scientists" and "crazy inventors"
(for mysteriuos reasons popular culture believes that engineers are
boring...). It is just that: when people don't understand what you are
doing or aiming at, they tend to believe to think you are crazy of some sort.
-Well, as long as they consider us harmless (and fairly cost effective)
that will leave us the space to investigate and "expand into the realms
where only the fearless tread" (thanks Elaine)


Klas Boivie M.Sc.
KTH, Royal Institute of Technology (which, by the way, has the motto:
"Science and Art")
Brinellvägen 68
100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
ph +46 8 790 6371
fax +46 8 21 08 51

   At 12:39 1999-03-22 -0600, you wrote:
>Klas Boivie wrote:
>> I've always argued that science and art are like the North and South poles
>> of a magnet, or right and left side of anyting you prefer, -you can't have
>> one without the other.
>> There is always a component of art in good science, and an artist must
>> apply some sceince to express his/her art.
>> To deny that is like refusing to eat the "left end of a hot dog" :-)
>> /Klas
>> At 13:29 1999-03-21 -0600, you wrote:
>> >Hey list,
>> >
>> >Do you think of art as an indulgence? Is it a whimsy? Is it something
>> >that is several notches below your real concerns as an engineer? As a
>> >scientist? Is it great for them, but of no consequence to your life?
>> >
>> >Well, why not check out this article about Bell Labs.
>> >
>> >quote:
>> >
>> >"The artist who blithely goes through an entire career ignorant of the
>> >technological tools of his or her trade strikes us as a sad anachronism,
>> >and the technician who doesn't spend at least some
>> >down time fooling around with graphics, animation or music seems to us
>> >terribly one sided. "
>> >
>> >So, how many of you are fooling around with the CAD, making models? How
>> >many more would love to do so?
>> >
>> >Thought provoker, rp-art evangelist,
>> >--
>> >michael rees SCULPTOR
>> >1212 w 8th St. Bldg B #2, 816 753 3020 voice
>> >KC, Mo 64101 816 753 1542 fax
>> >
>> >The use of rapid prototyping in art will contribute immensely to the
>> >popularization of rp.
>> >
>> >For more information about the rp-ml, see
>> >
>> >
>Hey Klas,
>I forgot to put the url for the article out. it is
>thanks for your comment. I couldn't agree with your position more!! This
>reminds me of my favorite quote from the metallurgist Cyril Stanley
>SMith. It goes like this:
>"It is misleading to divide human actions into "art", "science," or
>"technology," for the artist has something of the scientist in him, and
>the engineer of both, and the very meaning of these terms varies with
>time so that analysis can easily degenerate into semantics.
>Nevertheless, one man may be mainly motivated by a desire to promote
>utility, while others may seek intellectual understanding or aesthetic
>experience. The study of interplay among these is not only interesting
>but is necessary for suggesting routes out of our present social
>confusion. " --Cyril Stanley Smith
>This makes me wonder a bit. I think there's a split between how we
>perceive art and science in this culture. If science tells us something
>that we find counter-intuitive, unappealing maybe, we are forced to
>entertain it seriously. Science has this kind of authority even though
>science is always amending itself, admitting wrongs, redirecting,
>recreating, reforming itself. We have patience for this.
>On the other hand, as art explores and researches various modes of
>representation, and shows us something counter intuitive, perhaps also
>unappealing, it is often rejected out of hand-- "OH those crazy
>artists." Interesting isn't it? The method can be quite similar and have
>the same level of rigor but the response is completely opposite.
>Perhaps this is because art is seen to occupy a psychological space. It
>is mucky murky and ambiguous in there. A little frightening. But once
>again, is this really that much different than science?
>Onward and upward,
>michael rees SCULPTOR
>1212 w 8th St. Bldg B #2, 816 753 3020 voice
>KC, Mo 64101 816 753 1542 fax

For more information about the rp-ml, see

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