Sunday, June 11, 2017

Art Matters

I recently ran across a great article published by a scientist who argued that the arts are far more important than the sciences. His catch phrase that was titled  "We need science to live, but the humanities make life livable." As I studied his story further he demanded that such famous physics equations like E=mc2 could have been discovered by someone else had not Einstein lived, but no one else could have ever created Beethoven's 9th Symphony had not Beethoven lived. This struck me as profoundly true and grabbed my attention.

There is no universal agreement on this question but its not a new debate. It's a long standing one, that stems back to Aristotle, and  most likely before him too. Plato stood by math naming it once as the "God geometries." Plato valued math as the key to knowledge of law and order, measure and symmetry, uniformity and regularity, harmony and rhythm: and to the application of these to the art of life. He believed only math would discover the "numbers and forms" of the divinely ordered cosmos. It was a doctrine which occupied itself in science, physics, biology, and pathology. Is it a coincidence how these exact terms also define art - harmony, rhythm, order, measure and symmetry? The best science requires creative thinking, and the very best scientists display creative genius equal to any artist.

Bu let us also consider the artists. Socrates, as far as I understand, differed from Plato and stated that enshrining math hampered the imagination telling only what should be rather than what is...good thing for artists. I politely also consider that it was the writers (however the difference of opinion) who recorded these important doctrines. An apparent contradiction between art and science might even be parallel with the differences between reason and opinion.

When an artist says they don't live by science or mathematics, or vice versa, this a vague notion. As an artist you frequently depend heavily on math and science.  For instance, drawing a human figure is all about biology, and what makes a good composition is math - not art. Proportions like that the head is exactly 1/16 the height of a body, vanishing points, distance, composition, planes of distance, perspective and foreshortening are nothing to do with art, or is it? There are mathematical rules as well. Like that you should never divide a landscape exactly in half as it will bore the viewer or that three points in a painting like a triangle will create a balance. In addition large frescoes commonly used mathematical grids as a guide for accuracy. Being an artist leaves me with the impression that these seemingly opposing disciplines are more harmonious than we think.

I do agree that for instance had I not lived that no one else could write my stories which makes my accomplishments unique. I can stamp my name on them as indeed one of a kind. My purpose is to make life enjoyable for someone else but we also have to be able to live. I would say to anyone who argues the point between science and art is nonsense and suggests that love and compassion are not a necessity. Art is not necessary to live, but without it we lose our humanity. In ancient times lived the greatest of philosophers who aligned themselves with the arts as much as the sciences, while they simply ate bread. To me the arts and the sciences are different but not necessarily here to compete, they are here to compliment. What art simply means is that we have bodies, but we also have minds that yearn to know and go beyond our capacity to simply live, but so does the scientist. The sciences are an anonymous service we need for information and the arts are like a partner about intimate individual feelings. Arts are a sign of a human existence and economy which can afford to go beyond daily necessities. It's a point where we have the ability to stop and reflect ourselves which is also gravely important.  We are in a time when science can learn from the arts and the arts from science, since both are deeply imbedded in curiosity and an investigation into the unknown. I agree that creative forces are a drive inside both, and each one involves the ego and the personal story equally.

Let science find the stars and the artists will dream of ways to get there. It can be deeply engaging, innovative and like high velocity brainstorming when these two sides take notice of each other.