When art and science converge, magical things happen
A sensible collaboration between art and science allows us to better understand who we are and what surrounds us. Three exciting examples follow…
The most beautiful experience we can have is the mystery. It is the source of all true art and science.
– ALBERT EINSTEIN
Though they travel different paths, the interconnection between art and science has always been there. In fact, both practices are directed towards the same objectives in that they emerge from an essential need to understand and decipher the world. Art gives meaning to reality in a subjective and sensuous way. Science explores the world in search of universal, desirable truths. Finding meaning in life is the question, and the answer.
Art and science have always been related. Beauty and truth happen simultaneously. And though they don’t always collaborate, when it happens, when the boundaries between the two are dissolved, wonderful things take place and explain our existence.
Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno (Tucumán, 1973) has been merging art, science, and technology for decades. In his work, he raises the possibility of living in the clouds, generating solar flights, and he’s even collaborated with NASA. One of his most famous works is How to Catch the Universe in a Web. It’sa series of large-format installations in which Saraceno created an environment for thousands of spiders over a span of six months. The spiders were permitted to weave their webs in total freedom. The result invited the public into an immersive experience of dim lighting and a gradual discovery of a city of arachnids. Through the complexity of their weaving, the artist made an analogy to explain theories about the origins of the universe.
The Danish artist, Olafur Eliasson (Copenhagen, 1967), rose to fame in 2003 with an installation at the Tate Modern. In it, he created an artificial sun in a permanent sunrise/sunset, artificially blurred by a provocative fog. The technological and immersive production spoke of the artist’s concerns about climate change (a recurring theme in his work), and of the psychology of color and the theory of light. These same issues enter into Eliasson’s work including sculptures made of detached iceberg ice, and river water from multiple rivers colored to allow us to see the fragility with which the water travels the planet.
Another excellent example of the cooperation between art and science is the work of Anicka Yi (Seoul, 1971). The South Korean artist addresses socio-political issues, especially those related to feminism. A notable example was her 2015 performance, You can call me F. Presented at The Kitchen in New York. She collected biological information in the saliva samples of 100 women and then produced a bacterial fragrance to articulate a meditation on paranoia of contagions, and fear of feminism. Visitors could smell the fragrance while touring a dark facility, a reference to a forensic space, or a kind of camp (laboratory) within a fictional quarantine. Yi’s work, which the artist herself refers to as bio-fiction, always concerns itself with unconventional materials which she processes using science and technology, and in which visitors become co-creators by participating in one way or another.
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When science and art come together, they provoke experiences not only sensory, but pedagogical. And these allow us to reflect on transcendental issues. Science and art can explain life, connect us with it, and with our own existences.