Systematic Wonder – Science as Art
03:00 PM to 04:30 PM 04 October 2013 at United Services Club
If we view science as a cultural system – a lens through which me make sense of the universe – it does not differ greatly from art. Creative practitioners discuss how they engage these disciplines.
Sara Morawetz, Darren Engwirda, Erica Seccombe, and Robyn Stuart filled the commonly known “Gun Club” (the United Services Club) this afternoon with keen listeners for their panel on science as art. An intimidatingly qualified panel of mathematicians, artists and “slashies”, today’s discussion combined theory and practice across schools of thought across arts and science.
Darren, “a scientist who likes to dabble sometimes” opens the panel with his observations on how we perceive science, characterised by “a stern faced lecturer who can’t take a joke”. Science as a dry practice is normally thought to be in opposition to the arts and creative work. Darren begins by mentioning that often the greatest movements in science, the paradigm shifting events, are born out of creative thinking, and moves on to discuss how science influences his collaborative practice with partner Sara.
Similarly, Sara discusses art and creativity born out of misunderstood and misshaped science. Interested in “lyrically written science” and how conceptual artists of the 1950s and 1960s based their practices in science, along with Darren, is completing Ph.D. studies at University of Sydney. Sara and Darren collaborate on sculptural works based on algorythms, data and physical representations of nature.
Third speaker of the panel is Robyn Stuart, who is the editor-in-chief of Das Superpaper, but also (and very impressively) holds a PhD in Mathematics from the University of NSW. Robyn discusses again how science – in particular, models of thinking and representations of reality as science, our trust in science – influences her creative practice.
The panel’s final speaker, Erica, is a Canberra based visual artist. Her practice combines photographic screen print with digital and electronic media, with an atmospheric take to questioning our relationship to nature. Since 2006 she has been working with researchers in the ANU Department of Applied Mathematics, using 3D Microcomputed X-ray technology to create animated projection installations.
CA director and panel moderator Tulleah poses the question, how do artists-science “slashies” cope with the change of meaning when creating works. In his answer, Darren mentions that in his shared practice with Sara, they often ask one another, how much art, how much science? He goes on to speak about “letting go” of the science, to which the other artists nod along.
Systematic Wonder was a thorough, eye-opening talk, displaying a wide range of creative practice and thinking. From audience questions, it appears that those listening have been left to think about discipline, intuition and boundaries of combining science and art.