Presentation 2

Friday, April 23rd 2010
Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, Conference Room and Great Room, George Mason University

Among the various human endeavors, art and science are different but complementary paths in advancing our collective “consciousness”. These two seemingly disparate human intellectual pursuits do not exclude each other and the questions on “what we know” and “how we know” are central to both artistic and scientific inquiries. There are transformative instances when science and art produce a resonance. A good scientific theory, while rigorous in its derivations, must involve an inspiration or a seed of transcendence in its formation. Similarly, an inspiring piece of art usually contains elements of internal logic and “natural laws” with which a reflective reality of the human existence is timelessly captured. Often time, these successful scientific discoveries and artistic achievements bring about additional transformative changes in our societal well-being and health. Our efforts are to explore the mind, body, and spirit of those who achieve and transform consciousness through science, art, and healing and to provide ways for this information to be shared.

In our modern intellectual culture, disciplines have often become so specialized that a cultural divide has formed between art and science. Practitioners from the opposite ends of this cultural divide remain estranged with the basic doctrines, methods of inquires, and most importantly, the transformative power inherent in the practices of their colleagues. Even after almost fifty years since C.P. Snow challenged us to bridge the gap between the “two cultures”, intellectual activities and practices in science and art are still mainly curtained within their own established cultural domains and academic institutions.

Although there are much aesthetic appreciations of objects and images derived from science and there are successful utilizations of scientific tools and ideas in the process of art making, genuine collaborations between scientists and artists in exploring ways and means to improve their own practices using observations, principles, and skills from the other group are rare. There are several notable forerunners, such as Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Science, the Media Lab at MIT, the Art & Science Collaborations, Inc. in New York, Leonardo: the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology in California, and the newly formed Laboratory at Harvard, who are actively nurturing the cross-fertilizations between these two disciplines and exploring the transformative energy resulting from their interactions.

We believe that a new intellectual culture – as well as new research and academic structures to support it – is needed that can cultivate and sustain an increasingly indispensible blending of artistic, scientific, and technological sensibilities and skills. We are in the initial stage of our development of a series of “laboratory/studio” exchanges that will form the foundation for collaboration, research, and education among scientists and artists in this new dual intellectual culture. We propose to organize a number of informal gatherings called the “Science of Art Laboratory” (SOFALAB2) in which artists will be invited to observe and participate in laboratory sessions and scientists will be invited into artist’s studios for collaborative projects. We are interested to evaluate the effectiveness of these “Laboratory+Studio” sessions to facilitate the transformative dialogues that we are seeking.

An overarching goal for this event is to initiate the spark of communication between the two communities so as to explore the strengths and weaknesses regarding knowledge and exploration methods employed by the others. In particular, we hope to look for commonalities that can bring out new understanding and develop new tools of interactions from both the sciences and arts that can affect boarder intellectual and/or social changes.