Sunday, August 06, 2006

Art These Days

It's probably no coincidence that that it was a photographer - Stieglitz - who decided to exhibit DuChamp's Fountain (actually a urinal) in 1917. Photography itself was a major leap in detaching the artist from the hand work of creating. Making pictures became more of a scientific process with chemicals.


Harold "Doc" Edgerton - an engineer/professor at MIT - made some amazing scientific photographs with strobe lights that have wonderful artistic properties. The "Milk Drop", for example. Other photos include a bullet blasting through an apple - a football being compressed by a kick, a bird in flight, etc.


Now we have people saying that rat brain cells are making "art" via electrodes.

From -

The rat brain cells are kept on a glass slide in some goo that keeps them alive and are connected to a robot arm via electrodes that allows the cells to draw with three colored markers and to see the art it's making. ... There's no eraser for the rat brain cells so if it makes a mistake, perhaps it would exclaim, "rats!" The robot will be one of the participants of the Artbots Robotic Talent Show in New York.

From the "creators" -

“MEART – The Semi Living Artist” is a geographically detached, bio-cybernetic research and development project exploring aspects of creativity and artistry in the age of new biological technologies.

It was developed and hosted by SymbioticA? - The Art & Science Collaborative Research Lab, University of Western Australia.

MEART is an installation distributed between two (or more) locations in the world. Its “brain” consists of cultured nerve cells that grow and live in a neuro-engineering lab...

"This work explores questions such as: What is creativity? What creates value in art? "
From an historical context, artists have always been concerned with imitating life and with giving life/animating qualities to non-living entities. Technology has also joined forces with art forms to create more sophisticated types of artificial life systems and “intelligent” machines....


Art? and Science. I would agree that there is science involved - I'm not so convinced about the art and esp. creativity on the part of the electrodes. There is certainly creativity on the part of the people who developed this whatever it is. And it is interesting for considering the intersection of art and science. And at the SymbioticA Lab - it's interesting to see that artists are working with scientists.

SymbioticA is the first research laboratory of its kind, in that it enables artists to engage in wet biology practices in a biological science department. Developments in science and technology, in particular in the life sciences, are having a profound effect on society, its values, belief systems and treatment of individuals, groups and the environment. The interaction of art, science, industry and society is recognized internationally as an essential avenue for innovation and invention, and as a way to explore, envision and critique possible futures. Science and Art both attempt to explain the world around us in ways that are profoundly different but which can be complementary to each other.


Einstein saw art and science as performing a similar function...

"How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to another if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology? In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it."

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