Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What can art do?

"Watershed Sculpture" that acts to restore a floodplain.
Art can "have a job to do".

Bill Fox talks about and promotes, "art that walks in the world" to address real issues; and there is "a growing trend that seeks to blend art with environmental restoration." Artist residencies are "striving to not only be positively impacted by their environment, but also improve and become active participants in their environment."

An interesting conversation started around the recent #ArtSciConverge workshop in Reno, NV. Here are some highlights:

... in considering [the] notion that artists who do this work, "fall into two categories: interpreter or translator. Many of the scientists were, in fact, seeking interpreters for their work. These are artists who can give the analysis of data collection empathetic meaning. The word “empathy” for scientific discovery was used frequently." 
We would like to suggest another category, it is the category of "creator" where the artists, like the scientists, create something that did not pre-exist them. For instance, in the Sagehen work, we created the experiment, hired the scientists to help us work it out, thereafter the whole experience will find its way into the scientific literature in one way and the artistic domain in another; or look at the piece for the Greenheart of Holland, where, like mining four different disciplines, we literally put on the table the partial creation of the whole landscape.  
Many other artists also fit in this category, in one way or the other, in the art-science domain. For instance, look at the work of Brandon Ballengee, who was at our meeting, or Betsy Damon's, "The Keeper of the Waters" or for that matter Lauren Bon who makes the astonishing and radical discovery that is was not the railroads but the mule that built the west, and manifests this by supporting a hundred mule train moving from the desert to the center of LA. Maya Lin’s recent work is also of this category. These are all creative acts and neither interpret nor translate but rather transform how one might think and therefore respond to the world differently, perhaps more empathically.

Helen Mayer Harrison/Newton Harrison
Co-Directors - Center for the Study of the Force Majeure; Professors Emeritus, UCSD; Research Professors, UC Santa Cruz; Principals - Harrison Studio

[More here]
* * * 
Apologies for taking so long to reply to this, but we wanted to add the Center’s support to the Harrisons’ delineation of this third category of artistic endeavor as it relates to science. Many of the art projects that we archive are works where artists use what they have learned from science to create not only new works, but new line of inquiry within their careers. The data and information become the raw grist from which they eventually bake something quite different. In turn, those works help people see the world from a new perspective—one that may, in fact, lead them back to science.

This is not an act of interpretation, but another use of data and information, one where perhaps science inspires creativity. I say that provisionally as much to test out the idea among us all.

Thanks, Helen and Newton, for such an elegant reply.

William L. Fox
Director, Center for Art + Environment, Nevada Museum of Art 
* * * 
Very well said, Helen and Newton. It is this category, creator, that is most transformative to our thinking and therefore most valuable.

Stephen J Tonsor, Ph.D.
Director of Science and Research
Carnegie Museum of Natural History

No comments:

Post a Comment