September 24, 2012

She Blinded Me with Science

In a dream the other night, I was sitting in a lecture hall. The details are rather vague, presumably there were other students around me. The professor, a disembodied voice, posed the question, “what would happen to art if science ceased to exist?” My dreaming self was annoyed with the over simplification of the question. I began to speak, “Art and science are inextricably linked. Mixing pigments for paint, is that art or science? The optics used by photographers are the same optics employed by scientists. Is good industrial design the work of an artist or engineer?”

Somewhere in my diatribe I surfaced from sleep and worried the question in my semi-wakeful mind. First of all, what is science other than close observation and the creative application of mathematics, physics, and engineering to a well-defined problem or dilemma with the ultimate goal of knowledge? If scientists, then, are creative minds in search of deeper understanding of the physical world (which, incidentally, isn’t far off from what I think of artists), how can one possibly conceive that science would ever cease to exist? That’s simply ridiculous. Invention and discovery may be lost from one civilization to the next (central heating in ancient Rome, anyone?), but the human desire for knowledge and understanding will always lead to innovation. Whether the innovation is categorized as art, science, medicine, engineering, design, child’s play is irrelevant.

(I just checked for the definition of “science,” to see if my classification is in line with reality or just something that lives in my own head, and was pleased to find “art” listed as a synonym for “science.”)

PS The photos were taken in the meadows - part of the 62 acres on which our rental house sits - on the first day of autumn, a blustery, windy day with fast moving clouds and incredible bursts of sunshine.

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