Here are some questions that I am frequently asked
- What do you mean when you say art, aesthetics, science and technology are being redefined?
Since my contention is that in the 21st century art, science and technology will merge, the common ground is what interests me. What went before will be relegated to history. Let me review what is usually understood as the difference between beauty in art and beauty in science. Beauty in art is a visible thing and has to do with form and symmetry. It is subjective and so is truly in the eye of the beholder. The biological sciences also attribute beauty to symmetry in form but support this with arguments concerning how symmetrical objects are better suited to nature. Sciences based in mathematics and often dealing with the invisible have a completely objective notion of beauty or aesthetics. An equation is beautiful if it maintains its form when certain elements in it are transformed. For example, if an equation maintains its form when left and right are switched, then that equation is said to display mirror symmetry. Meaning: if it predicts an experimental result then that result will be the same if the experiment is performed in a mirror world.
In a merged art, science and technology – which I call artsci in Colliding Worlds – there will be a new notion of aesthetics and beauty since artsci will be based in the physical sciences. One new version of aesthetics has arisen in data visualisation art based in algorithms: high information content in a representation goes along with high aesthetics.
Even the notion of ‘intuition’ is no longer fuzzy in artsci. Although I have found that certain artists cannot put their finger on it, they emphasise the importance to intuition of experience, rather than someone simply divining a result. I add that the new artsci will necessarily be made up of new versions of today’s sciences.
- Why was there not a coming together of art and science in which artists and scientists collaborated before the 1960s?
Basically the critical mass was not present – of equipment and the requisite scientists. By this I mean that artists until the 1960s were essentially conceptual artists, dealing in ideas and not materials. For example, first Picasso and then subsequent Cubists dealt with their interpretation of scientific and technological ideas. Scientific equipment did not appear in any abundance until the end of the Korean war when surplus equipment could be had for a pittance – but what do with it. Here Billy Klüver came on the scene.
- Who are your favorite authors?
To me that question is akin to asking – What is your favorite city? I read widely and eclectically. I delve a great deal into books about military science. I read mostly nonfiction. But the author who comes immediately to mind is Cormack McCarthy because he sits with a blank piece of paper in a typewriter (that’s right) and creates a world. Writing nonfiction I am mired in piles of reference material. I have serious thoughts of writing a novel with only a blank screen in front of me. On what – well one writes about one’s own experiences in life – and I have lots of material in mind.
Actually it’s easier for me to come up with favorite composers. I played the flute seriously for a decade, in the distant past. Three years ago I took up the piano which I caught onto with some speed and am now playing my very favorite composer J.S. Bach. Also on my list are Debussy, Satie, Shostakovich, Beethoven – his late string quartets, and Steve Reich, in addition to the new wave electronic musicians I’ve come across in writing my book.