Unreal Nature

November 5, 2016

Thus, In Its Evolution, Science Approaches Art

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:06 am

… we focus less and less on the facts themselves and more and more upon their interconnection.

This is from The New Landscape in Art and Science by Gyorgy Kepes (1956; 1967):

… Science attempts to discern order relations in nature, making verifiable statements about nature’s processes. Data are set out in terms of measured quantities; and the found order is expressed in conceptual structures.

Image-making is basic to art. It is basic for science, too, defining goals, delimiting fields for study and providing sense models which anticipate the corresponding scientific statements of order relations. On the image-making level, the difference between pre-scientific and pre-artistic perception of order is a difference of attitude, an attention to structure, on the one hand, to the felt quality of experience, on the other. There is no need for these attitudes to exclude each other.

[line break added] Structures can be understood and qualities felt in a single, balanced perception of order, in an experience which has characteristics of scientific and artistic activity both. This balance is also possible on complex levels; one and the same set of created symbols can evoke an intense emotional response to the richness of its sensed patterns and convey an idea of logical structure.

… In the West, the visualization of our experience has been looked at mainly as the fashioning of representations of nature, likenesses of the things around us. This is the Aristotelian tradition; and, particularly since the Renaissance, it has been assumed that fidelity to the optical appearance of objects is the only means of artistic description of reality. Nevertheless, at all times master works of art have transcended mere representation; and during the past seventy-five years Western art has shifted toward ideas and methods corresponding to this Far Eastern vision.

[line break added] What the artist Piet Mondrian lately called the “liberated and universal rhythm distorted and hidden in the individual rhythm of limiting forms,” the great pioneers of modern art have tried to make visible. Today artists more often depict the inner world of man than the likeness of particular objects, making visible and external their experience of connection with the world around them. But the general public, most scientists included, still assumes that art is naturalistic representation.

Because our modern specialization so often separates artist and scientist, neither is fully aware of the profundity of the other’s work. Both reach beneath surface phenomena to discover basic natural pattern and basic natural process, yet the scientist expects the artist to interpret literally and the artist expects the scientist to thing mechanically.

The essential vision of reality presents us not with fugitive appearances but with felt patterns of order which have coherence and meaning for the eye and for the mind. Symmetry, balance and rhythmic sequence express essential characteristics of natural phenomena: the connectedness of nature — the order, the logic, the living process. Here art and science can meet on common ground.

… Contemporary scientists recognize that visual models of their new concepts cannot be provided by a portrayal of things; it is a model of relatedness that is called for. Artistic expressions which convey a sense of relatedness can provide science with new resources for visualization. In a closer communion between artists and scientists, it may be possible to work out new visual idioms to reinforce the abstract concept by the powerful, immediate sensory image which conveys the same meaning.

… Modern science expands the area of generalization; discrete terrains are linked in common formulations. The larger the areas that are brought into the same scale and meaning, the more important becomes awareness of form relationships; we focus less and less on the facts themselves and more and more upon their interconnection. Thus, in its evolution, science approaches art.

My previous post from Kepes’ book is here.

-Julie

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