On the surface of things, putting the words ‘art’ and ‘science in the same sentence as each other can seem like madness. Indeed, people who are passionate about each would have a thing or two to say about the comparison. Science, after all, is a subject grounded in cold and hard facts. Scientists use statistics, figures, and studies to land on every development they make. Heck, our lives would be at risk if they didn’t. Artists, on the other hand, couldn’t operate unless they threw caution to logic altogether. Art is all about creative pursuits and passions. You can bet there’s no fact checking or stat collecting before Frank Auerbach sits down to do his thing each day.
So, you’re right to doubt us when we say that these two fields are cut from the same cloth. All the surface facts suggest otherwise. In truth, though, a closer look reveals that art and science couldn’t be more alike if they tried. We do not deny that the processes between the two are very different. But, the heart and core of developments in both fields are almost identical.
You could argue that this fact is irrelevant. Surely you could draw comparisons between anything if you wanted to. Why does it matter if art and science are the same? In truth, it matters for a whole load of different reasons. For one, blurring the boundaries between both these fields makes them more accessible to individuals on both sides. Breaking things down here could also help us to understand the importance and purpose of each enterprise. You could argue, then, that few things are more important.
So, without further ado, let’s consider the primary ways art and science crossover, and what it means to the way we view each.
Both help us to make sense of the world
It makes sense to cover the most significant similarity first, doesn’t it? It’s undeniable that both these fields intertwine in their efforts to help us make sense of the world. With science, this is an apparent factor from the off. Every development ever made in the scientific community has been an effort to understand the world we live in and who we are. Science is also concerned with how changes to our planet and society impact our thought patterns and behaviors. Everything, from medicine to space travel works towards this ultimate goal of understanding. And, every development ultimately takes us closer towards understanding our planet and our impact upon it. That’s simple stuff, right?
When you think about it, though, art attempts to do the same thing. While the questions asked in the creative world may be more philosophical, they’re not that different. Through their work, artists attempt to answer big questions about our origin, motivation, and even the way we live now. Only this year, a London show curated by Omar Kholeif, as outlined at https://www.theartnewspaper.com, attempted to explore the impact of technology on our lives. This is a subject which science, and more specifically psychology, has studied for a while. Both this exhibition and scientific research have examined our changing sense of identity due to social media. And, this correlation is a pattern we’ve seen throughout the history of art and science.
Technology has changed both
We know what you’re thinking; technology has changed everything in recent years. And, you would be right. But we’re not looking at any field here. We’re looking at art and science, and there’s no denying the impact tech has had on both. Namely, technology has changed success in these fields for a whole number of different reasons. On an apparent level, technology has made both mediums much easier to practice. Machinery now ensures artists can work faster than ever before. Tech also means scientists can delve further into issues in a much faster time. But, the speed of technology certainly isn’t unique to these areas.
Instead, consider that both artists and scientists use social media to get their points across. Students at the University of Alberta found that Tweeting their papers and findings saw much higher levels of interaction. Thus, the use of social media could help to bring new advancements to the fore much faster. As can be seen on sites like influencedigest.com, artists like Toyin Odutola are also using social media to spread the work about their art. By Tweeting prints and examples, they ensure their message spreads to more people than it ever could in an exclusive art show setting. As a result, both mediums are becoming more accessible, and thus reaching a broader audience on the whole.
— Toyin Ojih Odutola (@obia_thethird) August 28, 2018
New techniques are coveted in both
When you think about the most iconic artists and scientists out there, they’ve all done things differently. Einstein and Stephen Hawking, for instance, both developed groundbreaking theories which were unlike anything we had seen before. Artists like Van Gogh and Picasso painted in ways no one had ever attempted. It’s these differences which secure such figures a place in history. Hence, everyone in these fields attempts to achieve differences like these.
Every scientist, therefore, works on developing new and different theories, or focusing on ground breaking research like the studies outlined on poseida.com today. If you can be at the cutting edge of new treatments and ideas, you can guarantee a firm place in the history of science. And, you could say the same about the art world. This field is all about experimentation for finding that ‘next big style.’ Artists like Yoo Bong Sang, for instance, are making ripples due to their unique techniques. His use of a nail gun to create intricate and life-like portraits has never been seen in the art world before. Hence why many people are keeping a close eye on his progress. It’d be fair to say, then, that you need a strong vision and an experimental side to find success on either side of this coin.
Both save lives
As cheesy as it may sound, it’s also worth noting that both art and science save lives in significant ways. Again, their methods for doing this vary. But, the comparison is still there to be made, so we had to include it here. Of course, you don’t need us to outline why science saves lives. Medical advances are responsible for the treatment and cure of millions each year. One discovery from a small team in America could, and does, ripple to the rest of the world. And, as mentioned above, success here has become all the more likely thanks to things like social media. While there are still terminal diseases, research continues to work towards cures. Success like the 2007 case of Timothy Ray Brown being cured of AIDs is proof these efforts do work.
Obviously, art doesn’t save lives in such an apparent way. But, there’s still no denying that art in all its forms can still save millions. As can be seen on sites like www.healing-power-of-art.org, there are many arguments as to why this is the case. Namely, though, you could consider that the mental impact of art is the main life saver in a literal sense. Many would argue that a good painting or a timely book does for the mind what medication does for the body. Indeed, experiencing art can help to limit feelings of isolation or despair. You can see clear proof of this when you consider that many mental health facilities offer art classes to patients. The act of both creating and viewing art can help us understand our thought processes, and thus clear through clouded thoughts. And, that’s how lives are saved.
You may, after reading these points, still consider art and science on different planets. For some, the divide between the two will remain too large a gap to cover. And, as we’ve stated throughout this article, the approaches of the two are vastly different. One is a field of logic, while the other couldn’t be further away from it. However, we recommend that you take the time to think about the above points. Ultimately, many would argue that the approaches involved don’t matter so much as the end product. And, even you may have a hard time arguing that the end product doesn’t often crossover. Be it a pill or a painting; there are some similarities between the two that no one can deny.
But, that brings us to our final point. What can we do with this knowledge? As mentioned above, mental health practitioners have long acknowledged the part art can play in recovery. But, should we take this crossover further than that? After all, mixing art and science in more fields would surely make both accessible to many? Perhaps, then, artists and scientists should come together more often than they do. Artistic depictions of cell structures, for instance, could bring medical imaging to the masses. Further use of artistic treatments could also go a long way towards tackling our medication reliance. That’s a goal we could all do with working towards.