Artsci: Cutting-Edge Science Redefines Contemporary Art

Thursday, 18 September 2014 - 4:19PM
Science Art
Thursday, 18 September 2014 - 4:19PM
Artsci: Cutting-Edge Science Redefines Contemporary Art
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Art, technology, and science are becoming ever more intermingled, the lines between them blurring. The combination of these seemingly disparate fields is the topic of a new book by Arthur I. Miller, who traces the "artsci" movement from the time that Picasso and his cubism movement was influenced by Einstein's theory of relativity. 


"Today's most innovative artists are taking not paint and chisel but science and technology as their media, to represent nature both seen and unseen," wrote Miller in the Huffington Post. "They are creating works radically different from any that have ever gone before and that may even change our perceptions of the world — truly the new avant-garde. I call this movement 'artsci.'"


Miller's book, called Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science Is Redefining Contemporary Art, explores many examples of artists who not only use technology in order to create art, but whose art is inspired by and reflects scientific principles. 


[Credit: RM]


The Australian performance artist Stelarc, who was raised in a town called Sunshine, often uses robotics or "cyborgization" in his pieces. This picture shows a cell-cultivated left ear that is surgically attached to his left arm. He told Wired that he believed the artists' place in society was to serve as "early alert warning systems.. generators of contestable futures - possibilities that can be examined, evaluated, perhaps appropriated, often discarded."


[Credit: Eduardo Kac]


Alba the bunny, the work of "transgenic" artist Eduardo Kac, was genetically modified with jellyfish DNA and now glows fluorescent green when illuminated with blue light. Kac has also been credited with creating a synthetic gene built on a Morse code translation of a sentence from the Book of Genesis and a genetically engineered petunia that contains his own DNA. Through his work, he intends to present the viewer with a paradoxical dilemma: if the viewer has a philosophical disagreement with humans asserting dominion over nature, then he or she must assert that same dominion in order to destroy or alter his works.


[Credit: Boston Globe]


This work of art by Josiah McElheny, called "Island Universes" is a visual "poem to the creation of universes," and a visual representation of the multiverse hypothesis. Made from blown glass, the sculpture is 12 feet long and 14 feet wide, with the length of each rod proportional to the time elapsed since its respective Big Bang. The glass spheres are analogous to galaxies, the light bulbs to quasars. McElheny consulted a cosmologist while constructing his work, in order to ensure that it was scientifically accurate.


[Credit: Colby Stuart/Flickr]


Julian Voss-Andreae, both a physicist and an artist, constructed the "Quantum Man" out of over a hundred steel sheets that are over eight feet tall. From one perspective, the sculpture looks like a fleshed-out man, but then as the viewer moves around it, it becomes virtually invisible. It is meant to illustrate the paradoxical nature of quantum particles, which exhibit both wave and particle behavior, cannot be measured in both velocity and space, and whose behavior is literally determined (in a sense) by the observer.


[Credit: W. Bradford Paley]


Professor Bradford Paley, a "cognitive engineer" at Columbia University, created the above work of art as a visual representation of the relationships between scientific paradigms, where paradigms are models or lenses through which the academic discipline is understood. The above is a so-called "Map of Science." 


[Credit: Barcroft Media]


Aaron Koblin's "Flight Patterns" is a work of art composed entirely of pieces of data. He aggregated the data of the 250,000 flights that crossed the U.S. on August 12, 2008, and created this visual representation of the different flights' relationships to each other.


Miller said, "I'm convinced that art, science and technology as we know them today will disappear and that 'artsci' will be known simply as art — leaving the door open for the next, as yet unimaginable, avant-garde."

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