Sunday 18 January 2009

ScienceOnline09 - Art & Science afterword

Alrighty, first, in case you were not in the session, please go and check out the artwork of every single artist on the wiki page. I will wait patiently without looking at my watch and display my Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle in this post.

Thanks to Jason Robertshaw of Cephalopodcast, we had images on the screen! I was totally flummoxed by the projections, which is always an inspiring way to stand in front of a crowd. Jason let my mouth and brain work and kept my hands from messing with the keyboard. Thanks, man.

After glancing through some of the examples and attempting to throw some definitions on-screen, the discussions in this unconference began. Some points (and further questions to explore!) that stood out:

-Movies such as Jurassic Park have done a lot to inspire science d
own specific paths (could a T-Rex catch that jeep?)

-Despite the success of movies, visual (static) art inspiring areas of research remains elusive. The example by Andy of The Open Source Paleontologist notwithstanding, the question remains: can art inspire new areas of research? With any sort of regularity?

-The question of whether art and science are separate cultures about to come back or not is one that we were reminded happens over and over, perhaps every twenty years or so. I wonder then, is the relationship between art and science something that stands out against the backdrop of history better than standing inside one's own culture?

-How much of nano-imaging, for example, could be taken seriously by the fine art world? Could it be taken seriously?

-When scientists choose how to image data captured about objects in space, algal blooms and so on, they must have some knowledge of colour theory and make artistic decisions.

-When I inquired as to how many people working in science in the room ever sketched out a visual, back-of-the-napkin sort of thing, many people raised their hands. Anyone willing or able to share? I'd love to post a few examples here at The Flying Trilobite.

-Many people knew of terrific examples of art and scientists co-mingling in provocative ways! Please send me links in the comments or by email, and I'll publish them here.

- We left with an open suggestion: how could each person in the room involved art or an artist in their area of research? Please email me, days, months or years from now
if you follow through!

Thanks to the excellent group that coalesced in room C, and thanks to the people who cornered me variously at the conference and dinner afterward to discuss the issues further.

- -

All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.
Please visit my blog, gallery and reproduction store.
2009 calendar available for a limited time!


Anonymous said...

Thanks. It was a good session. I know how frustrating it is to be both the producer and performer simultaneously and I am glad it all worked out.

I've been composting a post about why I love/hate speculative biology so much and your session has given me some more fertilizer to add to the mix. I might even have enough to make an actual entry about it grow on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Paleontologists at museums involve art when they decide how they should mount a fossil specimen, namely a dinosaur.

Anonymous said...

great meeting you this weekend. Hope you had a safe trip home.

Up Welng said...


sorry i didn't get a chance to chat with you, but i enjoyed your session and it fed my brain with something i can use IMMEDIATELY!

your art is truly stunning and evokes for me memories of the former vertigo comics cover artist dave mckean...

hope to run into you at another conference (and maybe have the ability to own some of your art someday)

Glendon Mellow said...

Jason! Pucker & Bloat are amazing. I'll have to do a fan-post about it from the point of view of an invertebrate who lives with me.

I look forward to your reading about your love/hate on speculative biology - I suspect you're not alone.

Glendon Mellow said...

This is of course very true, Raptor. One of the discussional (discussional? Is that a word?) dangers I swerved to avoid was "cooking is complicated and can be done really well so it is art". This is true of course, art has a loose definition.

It's why I tried to provide 5 definitions of types of science art, whether t was scientific illustration or fine art dealing with science subjects. Keeps everyone on the same page. ;-)

Glendon Mellow said...

Southern Fried!

A real pleasure to meet you and Kevin & Miriam. That awkward moment of walking into a bar with pressure for conversation was totally alleviated. Good times.

Glendon Mellow said...

Wow,Dave McKean - yeah I'll take that as a compliment!

Thanks Rick, the regret at not getting a chance to speak to your further is mutual. We have the blogs though!

Owning art is possible....hard to let go of my weird little babies, but possible...

Laelaps said...

Oh! Oh! Oh! I just had another thought about science intersecting art. Cave paintings. :) The kind of art made by Cro Magnons in Europe that have helped scientists visualize what extinct animals (mammoths, irish elk, etc.) really were like and how these people might have lived. I feel so dumb that I didn't think of it at the time!

Glendon Mellow said...

Brian as always, you are astute and insightful! I didn't think of that either, which is sad since I used neolithic art in a blog banner last year. Bad me.

So where does it fall in the 5 categories outlined at the conference? Scientific illustration?

Laelaps said...

Well, the cave art example is complicated. The actual paintings might be closer to fine art; they were depicting real-life experiences and even thoughts of the painters. They can be appreciated on this level (as art) but also can be used by scientists as a view to how the ancient world actually was. The paintings were made for artistic reasons but ended up having scientific benefits.

Glendon Mellow said...

Did artistic reasons really exist? I tend to think of that as meaning art for its own sake, as opposed to art in assistance to a pre-hunting ritual.

Certainly you're correct Brian, it has scientific and anthropological benefits now.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glendon! I finally got around to collecting some of the links of things I mentioned during your session, but I think I'm forgetting something. Anyway, here are two of them at least:

Subtle Technologies. I believe the are currently accepting submissions for the conference in June, about networks.

This I had a very hard time finding again, because I couldn't remember the details, but I managed to track it down: An example of art helping science. Relevant quotes: "It was a relatively recently obtained skin so they knew that the animals must be in the area. He requested I produce a drawing of the animal, Mr. Nash said. “We produced posters and T-shirts, and local people, including former hunters, gave lectures to school children and such and all of a sudden populations of these animals were found." and "while Western art students are migrating ever more toward digital art and other lines of work, there appears to be a surge of interest in hand-drawn wildlife illustrations in developing countries. (...) And these are not only for art students, but biology students doing work on these endangered animals want to illustrate their own research.”

Post a Comment

Posts over 14 days old have their comments held in moderation - I've been getting an unusual amount of spam for a guy who paints trilobites. I'll release it lickety-split though.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Glendon Mellow. All rights reserved. See Creative Commons Licence above in the sidebar for details.
Share |