Art and science are often perceived as total opposites, but when they are combined, a beautiful mind-boggling picture is painted. It’s not all about aesthetics, creativity plays a massive role in scientific breakthroughs, and conversely, art is often a product of scientific knowledge.
Recently, I’ve come across some fascinating pieces in which the two field converge, sending their viewers’ imagination in an upward trajectory straight to the stars.
Mysterious Artist Taking Art to the Stars
Trained as a cosmonaut in Russia, the artist Tavares Strachan previously filled close to 300 craters in the desert with neon tubes in an attempt to send a message to space. Recently he has been collaborating with SpaceX – a space transportation and aerospace manufacturing company owned by business magnate Elon Musk. Strachan will be using the centre for the rest of the year to collaborate with science experts on a mysterious project.
The team of scientists include cell biologists, computational modellers, neuroscientists and bioengineers. Strachan is also working with the Frontiers Group, an initiative that backs innovators using bioscience to make positive change in the world. Tom Skalak of Frontiers believes that having artists interact with scientists could change the way the scientists work. Art fans from all over, myself included, are excited to see what this mysterious project is all about. Some suspect the artist will be sending something into space…
Sliding Into Symbiosis
Another exhilarating project happening in the art/science world is Carsten Höller’s slide installation experiment. Named the Florence Experiment, the installation is meant to use art to explore how people emotionally affect plants. The project involves twin slides installed at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Italy, both piped with air from two cinemas. The one cinema plays comedic clips, and the other plays snippets of horror films.
Visitors are invited to go down the slides while holding a living plant in their arms. After reaching the bottom, they are asked to visit neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso’s pop-up laboratory. There, the effect their emotions had on the plant, as they were experiencing the excitement of the slide, is analysed.
The artist and the neurobiologist expect that the emotional reactions to the slide, along with the emotions experienced by the cinema viewers, will be imprinted in the plant. At the end of the experiment, a ‘plant graph’ illustrating the relationship between human emotions and plants will be drawn on the front of the Palazzo. As part of the project, visitors are welcome to take their emotionally impacted plant home.
History Repeats Itself in the Most Magnificent Ways
Tavares Strachan, Carsten Höller and Stefano Mancuso are not the first artists/scientists taking the mesmerizing merge between art and science to the next level – art and science have been intrinsically linked at least as far back as the 15th century. This is when Leonardo da Vinci’s feverishly inventive imagination amalgamated scientific logic with the mystery of the arts in a range of timeless classics and unprecedented inventions.
One such invention, the da Vinci-Broen Bridge, was built by the artist Vebjorn Sand 499 years after it was designed. Da Vinci’s work has transcended imagination, time and belief over and over. It is thrilling to know that, just like da Vinci, there are artists and scientists around the globe who are harnessing their fields of expertise and collaborating to craft the ultimate creations.