Pep Talk


I want to congratulate you again on pulling off a very tall order. We started this class just over a month ago. And you just projected your ideas on a state of the art planetarium dome at one of the major museums of science in the world.

Now the fun starts. And what I mean by fun is hard work.

Collaboration is hard work. It depends on honesty, compromise and communication.

Each and every one of you offers a unique perspective and particular talent that we need.   We need writing; audio sampling, composing and editing; video shooting, editing, and animation.  We need titling and transition design; program design; publicity, including graphic design and social networking; we need choreography, props and costuming.   So no one should feel out of the loop or idle.

At this time, there is a heavy focus on the video aspect of our show. Makes sense – the dome is sexy and over-powering. Many of you want to learn that part. I recommend you patiently sit next to someone who knows what they are doing and/or make an appointment with someone who can give you a short tutorial as needed.

For those of you that know what you are doing, you need to give up some control in the spirit of teamwork. This is extremely difficult to do. But absolutely essential if you want to master the real world experience of what happens in the work place in almost any discipline these days.  And this is a major element of the content of this course.

Finally, the creative process depends on feeling comfortable with ambiguity, unknown results, and exploration. You may offer ideas that go nowhere, you may try things that fail and have to start over. If this is what is happening then you know you are in the right place doing the right things.  Being engaged in the process is the goal.  Supporting each others’ ideas, giving up your own for the good of the whole, or giving your idea to others to work on.  That is what collaboration is all about.

We are not only remembered for the products we make but also for the way we make them.

And some quotes about art and science –

“If we want to get an answer to our deepest questions—the questions of who we are and what everything is—we will need to draw from both science and art, so that each completes the other.”


Thoughts on the interconnections of Art and Science

The artist’s pursuit of an integration of the broad areas of Art and Science is a legitimate and inspired goal. And there are often many artists germinating these seeds within the culture. The integration of Art and Science is one of the most persistent ‘memes’ in the evolution of culture. Some of the earliest scientific ideas have come down to us in the form of artworks, such as calendars. In prehistory, written language, painting, drawing, sculpture, fibers, jewelry, ceramics, vocal and instrumental music, and dance were used to directly represent seasonal cycles and other patterns in nature, and to revealing our connection to them, both individually and socially. The separation of Art and Science seems to be a comparatively recent occurrence. Leonardo da Vinci is an obvious example of an artist who was engaged with scientific principles. The early Greeks recognized little separation between Art and ‘Natural Philosophy’. Benjamin Franklin’s many scientific experiments are legendary, and his letters and other writings are considered works of literature. He was, among many personalities, both scientist and artist. The transcendentalists (particularly Thoreau), Edgar Allen Poe (A Descent Into the Maelstrom, Eureka: an Essay on the Material and Spiritual Universe), Herman Melville (Moby Dick), Jules Verne (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea), John Steinbeck and Edward Ricketts (The Sea of Cortez) and even James Joyce (see his description of water on pgs. 671-672 of Ulysses), qualify as formative champions of relating Art and Science, to name a few.

In contrast, many artists today view science as ‘the enemy.’ A simplistic vision of ‘Big Science’, which supports and is supported by the military and by big business, has been a standard reaction among artists for over one hundred years, with its roots based in nineteenth century romantic idealism. Similarly, there are many scientists who passionately support the arts as long as the art doesn’t cross the boundary into the ‘hard’ sciences such as astronomy, physics, or biology. Artists will always be concerned with maintaining personal freedom and fighting the status-quo, while scientists must worry about the preservation of data from contamination which they have fought so hard to protect.

In spite of this divisive history, it is this group’s view that the ‘coevolution’ of art and science will proceed from the pressures brought about by individuals from both camps who share the long view. They hold in common the instinct to connect, unify, take risks, and explore new ideas and new ways of understanding and experiencing events that shape our culture.

Nature and Inquiry artists group, Boston MA, 2006



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