Monday, October 10, 2005

Science vs. Art

I've been reading Bronowski's A sense of the future: Essays in natural philosophy this weekend. It's been eye opening.

I've always seen the world as being divided into math/science types and language/arts types. (I, of course, see myself fitting into the latter category.) Bronowski talks about how scientists must use their creative abilities to be better scientists and how artists use science to discover and improve their creations. He uses the skeleton as a simple example. Scientists use it to learn about the body and artists use it to learn how to draw/sculpt or otherwise create bodies in their art.

The example worked for me, since biology was the only science I was any good at. I actually enjoyed cutting up the fetal pig in grade 12... not because I was cutting up a dead animal, but because I was genuinely curious as to what I'd find and how the little creature's body worked...

Anyway, back to Bronowski... I find myself as curious about his theories on art, science and philosophy as I was about that little pig in high school. He also says that good scientists ultimately can't be emotionally divorced from their work... objective, but not devoid of passion for what they're doing.

Artists discover new techniques through experimentation and use what they learn to create new things.

In both cases, artists and scientists can spend endless hours on the most repetitive or minute task, only to suddenly have a small leap that takes them to some new level they've never experienced before. (Sounds like learning in general to me... Lots and lots of effort. Jump to a new level of understanding. Plateau. Repeat.)

I think I may have just had one of those little "jumps". I'm finally starting to "get" that artists and scientists can have a lot in common... passion for what they do fuelled by curiosity, and a willingness to step back and ask "Why?"

Very cool.


kt said...

sarah: i've enjoyed your comments on my blog. (i have a blog! weird)
i don't know if you'll scroll all the way down and read comments on your previous posts so here goes: about your running! sounds like you just bit off too much too fast. you are supposed to be able to carry on a conversation (convo) but like not sing. i think that's it. so, as i'm running along, w/ my ipod shuffle (i'm sure there's a nickname for it but i don't know it so i GEEKily call it by it's whole product name every time!=)) and every once in a while, i BELT out the words to the song so i know i'm still alive....but i know i'm 'in the zone' since i can't sing the whole song! when i run WITH people i talk too much (that doesn't stretch your imagination does it, considering my verbosity) and don't breathe enough...thus they are generally harder runs. my unca dean says i have to take some DEEP breaths every now and again to get O2 to my large muscle groups!
don't give up. i like amber's advice too. the cool thing about running is you can do it anywhere. amber started a few months ago: a total NON RUNNER and now she's training for a marathon next month! i've been a slogger/jogger all my life...and now i think i'm a runner! not to mention i need to lose wt. (happening w/ running! thank God!)
the common denominator here, what started this whole thing was a friend who started training for the marathon. she inspired amber, who in turn inspired me. well, they both got those garmin forerunners, which make a big difference. but they also got the non-runners guide to marathons...a book. amber has given me the marathon training schedule from that. tell us if you're interested. it has you upping your mileage wkly (one long run a wk) and can start WHERE YOU ARE!

anyhoo, prob more COMMENT than you wanted. but i wanted to touch base.

you sound quite goal oriented and i'm sure you can do anythign! i love your running post. quite funny. i cannot tolerate hard liquor at all...let alone anything anymore. and i find it MUCH better to run on an empty stomach. always have stitches in sides when run after eating. the most i've done in the last 6months is a bite of banana if i'm ravenous before a run. other than that nil. and i don't eat late either. i run first thing in the a.m.

okay, sorry to use so much space!

God bless, sarah! (i love your name!)

madcapmum said...

I'm always on the lookout for more reading material to keep the grey matter twitching, so I'm going to check that book out. Thanks for the referral!

Biology was "my" science too; I wonder if that's common among word-oriented people?

M A F said...

Hello Sarah,

Great think piece. I have read it thrice and I keep thinking about Leonardo DaVinci. He was scientist and artist all rolled into one. By studying human cadavers he obtained an intimate knowledge of human anatomy which made his artwork (paint/sculpture) life-like in every detail.

CM said...

Interesting thoughts. I think that both scientists and artists say "Why?" also, but I think that artists more commonly also say "Why not?" Scientists, on the other hand, need to prove "why not."

So where do I fall? Probably more on the science side, except that my job is to write about it all day, but in very technical terms. But then again, one must be very creative to argue with the patent office. I suddenly feel like a double agent.