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The Arts, Science and Technology Fuse Together for Mutual Benefit

Movie Science-Fiction Can Become Fact One Day - Soren Lundtoft
Normally thought to co-exist in splendid isolation, science and the arts can work with technology in perfect harmony to push artistic boundaries.

The arts have always been at the forefront of technological and scientific advances, from the latest in cave paints to computerised/digital film making/theatrical effects that cause some to wonder if real human actors will be needed at all in the future. Technology in the Arts explores the intersection between arts management and on-line technology. Many universities run joint department programs, conscious of the synergy between arts & sciences.

When Science Fiction Becomes Science Fact

There is a growing genre of stories and movies that started out as far-fetched ideas, but gradually found reality as science advanced. HG Wells’ 1898 story War of the Worlds doesn’t seem impossible today. While life may be reborn from DNA fragments, are prehistoric creatures envisioned in Jurassic Park (1993) yet possible?

Laser technology is already in object-destroying beam weapons, if not like in Star Wars (1977) or Independence Day (1996). High-frequency dispersal weapons against youngsters have been used in city centres; USA has tested ‘Active Denial System’, firing microwaves at crowds.

AI, Lost in Space and I,Robot are among movies dreaming of a robotic future; 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) had a cognizant robot, Hal. Robotics is now so advanced that robots may soon be major players in caring/serving, medicine and education professions.

Addictive virtual reality, flying cars, time travel and teleportation are arriving, modified from fiction, but becoming a form of fact. Tom Chivers, writing in July 2010 in the UK’s Daily Telegraph suggests toys and gadgets up to full-scale battle-ready hardware that started life in creatives’ minds, but found science caught up.

Art Evokes; Science Explains

Tim Love, (1995; 2009) published Science and the Arts, saying that science reveals the underlying reasons and purposes of the world described as beautiful, harsh, random, volatile, unfair by artists in all genres. In fact, he suggests, science enhances art.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was an Italian who knew much about many disciplines (polymath). Art historian Helen Gardner said the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent, ‘his mind and personality seem to us superhuman’. Others have shown how his world vision was logical rather than mysterious. Nonetheless, a painter, sculptor, cartographer, mathematician, engineer, inventor, botanist, writer, musician, anatomist, architect and scientist: he was rare. Most people are talented in few areas.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) ‘received a mixed reception from poets’ as the scientific revolution he inspired took off, and Romantics (art, writing, painting) protested against science’s ‘mechanistic abstractions’. This argument has polarised and run ever since, despite a poet like Tennyson being well-read in the sciences.

CP Snow, British scientist and novelist, published, The Two Cultures (1959), arguing that breakdown of communication between sciences and humanities was a major hindrance to solving the world’s problems. It was widely discussed on both sides of the Atlantic, yet still there’s continued separateness between the two ‘extremes’.

Technology controls and changes, and has ‘entered all aspects of our everyday lives’. Artists are more aware of contemporary science than scientists are of modern art, which Love sees as an opportunity to build understanding between the `cultures’.

Both Science and Art Seek Truth

Love argues that people appreciate art and approach science from the basis of how truly either relates to their lives. Science breaks the whole into parts, as does art; in neither is the past entirely discarded. Some believe science, art and mathematics are languages. He cites San Francisco-based poet Jon Corelis: ‘poets like scientists use perceptions as sense-images (observations) to which they give value by poetic imagination (scientific theory)’.

He discusses the view that science has truth values denied to art, and scientific theory has a limited lifespan. However, truth in science, like art, is subject to culture, context and the zeitgeist. Things like subjectivity, symmetry, interaction can come in and out of favour affecting truth and beauty. The 2010 movie Inception takes reality and turns it on its head with a plausible premise that not only can somebody invade another’s dreams to steal or implant ideas, but can induce dreams within dreams.

Some believe science gives more to art than vice versa, from innovations like TV/cinema, computer-technology and science-fiction. The Matrix (1999) depicts a future in which reality as perceived by humans is simulated by sentient machines to pacify and subdue the human population, while their bodies’ heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source.

The Truman Show (1998) followed a man born and raised in an artificial world, created by and for television. Science only made this possible, and the very concept throws light on how both technology and science engage with the arts, driven by a mutual benefit in cross-fertilisation.

The City University of New York Science & The Arts is just one cultural-educational centre that creates and presents programmes in theatre, art, music, dance and film which bridge art & science. The Science and Arts Academy is a school majoring on education of the gifted & talented with a differentiated cross-integrated curriculum, problem solving and creative thinking with an arts emphasis.

Finding links and parallels across performance/expressive arts with the world of science and technology is not exact science; more of an art form.

First published on Suite 101, 28 July 2010.

Photo: Movie Science-Fiction Can Become Fact One Day – Soren Lundtoft

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