Touching The Limits Of Knowledge

Cosmology and our View of the World


Intersection of Science and the Arts: Representation as a Means of Understanding our Existence
Lead: Daniela Möbius


Summary by Justin Bourque:


Intersection of Science and the Arts:
Representation as a Means of Understanding our Existence

Art and Science Multilateralism

concept for a presentation was a portrayal of the compatibility of art and science. The two disciplines are approaching the same goal while influencing one another and providing unique instances of a certain kind of fusion between the two. Science is thought of as the more classical field of intellectual expression and art the romantic result of individual imagination. While the two are seemingly quite different, a focus on specifics within either field reveals an undeniable union that both strengthens and diversifies scientific discovery and artistic innovation.

Art History
The very beginnings of art can be seen to contain science. Cave paintings created by the earliest of hominids depict hunting epics as well as record the individual’s ideas of how the universe works. The paintings are essentially tentative explanations (or hypotheses) of what these humans were observing; an attempt to go beyond observation to make distinct cognitive links between natural occurrences. Interestingly these early humans chose to record these findings in the form of artwork. Their ideas of light, shadow, and geometry were allowed to progress as a result of their ability to recreate what they observed through cave paintings.

Da Vinci explored the creative aspects of science thru artistic imagination. Many of his inventions stemmed from his romantic thought rather than stern logic and rational thought of how things might be put together.

Then Rachel discussed the importance of String Theory in all of this: that beyond atoms, quarks and other subatomic particles, there are “little strands of vibrating energy”; these can exist in ten different dimensions. But there were five separate string theories, and ten dimensions were not enough to unify them. So the M Theory stated there were at least eleven dimensions, allowing the string to “stretch”, to envelop universes by encapsulating membranes, each having different dimensions. At the very beginning of the universe, when forces are combined, all the four forces were united as one—almost a monistic (or even monotheistic?) theory. String theory seems to allow for this, and it naturally can predict, or allow for the possibility of, multiple universes.

Seurat’s pointalism is another example of fusion. While science was interpreting light as quanta, art responded by representing the world as dots on a canvas. This is more an example of how the two disciplines are operating within the same collective consciousness that is society (something that might seem obvious yet the two groups seem so distant from one another in terms of their work and social interactions). This interaction continues with Monet’s more intangible art and Duchamp’s cubism paralleling the ethereal physics that begins to be developed.

The majority of discussion ran from this beginning. The question of whether or not the scientific community really does pay any attention to art was heavily debated along with the notion of science and art as representative of something rather than merely existing. A further exploration of the two subjects gained the conclusion that both art and science perhaps rely on models for perception and are forever linked in this way.

A possible difference between the two subjects lies in the emotional consequence one receives from either observing or creating art that appears to be missing in scientific discovery. Class was left with un-answered questions such as:

- Does science truly pay attention to art or vice versa?
- How is science truly an art form?
- Is it possible for the two to exist completely separate of one another and still thrive?