Pauline Kael said, “Movies are a combination of art and mass medium”. Why isn’t there a good word for the combination of art and science? Scientific Illustration is self-explanatory but the term doesn’t really apply here. Art merged with science is hard to pin down. Dig your fingers into the meat pie of creativity and trickle its gravy onto the clean lab floor- sounds fascinating, but what do we call it?
There should be a word. Something really resonant. Movies is already taken.
There’s a movement afoot to combine and collaborate: science with painting, science folded into music, science shaken, not stirred, with poems and a twist of philosophy. It might sound a little counterintuitive, but opposites attract. We balance each other. Throw the confetti.
Science has so far been the brave instigator of much of this cross-fertilization. Meaningful exploration forges on, nameless or not. I took part in a symposium this summer in Portland, Oregon, at the Ecological Society of America’s annual conference, sharing my 15-minute presentation with a group of writers, artists and scientists. We threw our hands across the gulf of our separate services and locked fingers for hours. Dancing should have broken out; certainly, music did. You’d be amazed at how many ecologists come equipped with a guitar.
E.O.Wilson ruminates over the art/science merger in Biophilia:
“…art generally considered to be important appears to be marked by one consistent quality: it explores the unknown reaches of the mind…Words pour in and around, and the image takes substantial form, at first believed familiar, then seen as strikingly new. It is something, as in Thomas Kinsella’s Midsummer,”
that for this long year
Had hid and halted like a deer
Parted the tragic grasses, tame,
Lifted its perfect head and came
To welcome us. “
With that, I wish you a warm welcome to the New Year, with prospects for peace, art and science combined, and maybe a good word for that, too.