February 19, 2007
Scientific art

Interesting interview on We Make Money Not Art about scientific art" - art set in the context of and using material from the sciences. "Experimental" - in the scientific sense - art has been going around for a while, but there's certainly a lot of it these days. To me it both represents a logical next step, art needs new subject matter all the time, a natural consequence of the age of hackery, but more precisely than just "hackery": The emergence of this kind of art perhaps indicates a certain overabundance of education: There is in fact now an audience of hypereducated young people skilled in multiple fields who this kind of thing would make sense and appeal to and some even more overeducated people with the ability to pull it off. While there are plenty of wannabe renaissance men*, there are also people like the interviewee here, Angelo Vermeulen, with a PhD in biology and photographic and other training from a couple of art schools who can convincingly do this kind of work - and not just as storytelling or pure scientific fiction.

The best part of the interview addresses the intersection between art and science directly, essentially a discussion of a viewpoint of Thomas Kuhn: "Unlike art, science destroys its own past". While there is clearly a lot of truth in this statement, Vermeulen notes but doesn't get to the key point about it: In science there is a shared foundation, a paradigm within which there is a process of destruction, replacement of new value with old. In culture as such, art specifically, there is no such shared foundation to rebel against which is liberating in a way - but conversely to become art the works must, because they cannot reference the shared foundation, inscribe themselves literally in the art institutions to "prove" their validity. Science doesn't have to do that. It does so by virtue of the shared foundation. Where science can "objectively" inscribe itself in the tradition through the shared base, art must gain social acceptance by being recognized, subjectively by the artistic institutions, as being in the tradition of fine art. So the freedom in the two disciplines is located at opposite ends of the spectrum.

The previous interview is of a similarly multi-skilled artist, but here the muli-skilling is given the less daring/pretentious label knowledge shopping, possibly because of a gender and continent change, since the interviewee is now an US-based (French) woman - Cati Vaucelle.

* telltale sign: They call themselves renaissance men.

Posted by Claus at February 19, 2007 10:56 PM | TrackBack (0)
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