Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The gap between thinking and doing

There's an interesting article in Wired UK this month about art/science convergence, though it isn't presented as such.

Artist Olafur Eliasson is a hybrid. A artist who was first a trained draftsman and architect, whose interest in bodies and spaces came out of his experience as a teenaged break dancer.

In his parent's homeland of Iceland, "he learned the power of defamiliarisation - the feeling you have when seeing things presented in a surprising way that makes you feel you're seeing them for the first time."

As an artist, Eliasson is interested in, "How do I take a feeling I carry within myself and give it shape? What's the gap between thinking and doing, idea and action?" Everyone at his highly collaborative 90-person studio is pushing for "non-quantifiable success criteria".

"Something you can neither see nor feel is hard to think about and easy to ignore; religion is helped by its icons and ritual, whereas environmentalists must rely on over-familiar, depressing footage of melting ice caps and denuded rainforest."

"Fundamental to Eliasson's work is the belief, rooted in phenomenology and gestalt psychology, that in changing an individuals' perception of their surroundings, art actually changes the world. The studio is based on a shared conviction on art and creativity as means of change, and 'because we are looking at things from an artistic angle, we consider things relevant that other people would not.'"

Eliasson is interested in somatic knowledge. "How do we change the world and push it away from being so obsessive with measurable success results?" he asks.

It seems to me that this somatic response is the thing that underlies science, and makes us care enough to do that work in the first place.

But, as with Eliasson, inchoate interest in phenomena can just as easily manifest itself as art. Or both simultaneously: FSML as exploratory art studio in service of basic scientific discovery.

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