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 a profound argument 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." He believed only math would discover the "numbers and forms" of the divinely ordered cosmos.

Bu let us also consider the artists and lets not forget Socrates, who was his teacher -  differed from Plato and stated that enshrining math hampered the imagination telling only what should be rather than what is... I politely also consider that it was the writers (however the difference of opinion) who record these important doctrines. We as artists cannot forget this argument as we stand in awe at the Parthenon, or look at a marble sculpture in Athens. Is it not the arts that engages us, and gives us a breath of life?

In the defense of science, great art is not so "frilly -nilly". Good art depends on skill, concentration, focus, experience and knowledge- including numbers. Drawing a human figure is all about biology, and what makes a good composition has everything to do with math - in a sense. Knowing and understanding proportions like that the head is exactly 1/16 the height of a body, vanishing points, distance, composition, planes of distance, perspective and foreshortening is all about equations. These equations brought us out of the baroque, into the renaissance. Some of these secrets are very basic - for instance - that you should never divide a landscape exactly in half as it will bore the viewer, or that three points in a painting hidden as a triangle will create a significant balance. In addition large frescoes in the past - commonly used mathematical grids for accuracy. These seemingly opposing disciplines are more harmonious than we think. I haven't even gotten into the Golden Ratio...


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. Although my purpose is to make life enjoyable, I can't really help us live. On the other hand, anyone who argues the point against art 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. 


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. Arts are a sign of a human existence and economy which can afford to go beyond daily necessities. Art is a sign that we have the ability to stop and reflect ourselves which is gravely important.  

Creative forces are a drive inside any disciplines, and the make-up of the human mind.

Science will find the stars and the artists will continue to dream of ways to get there. It can be deeply engaging, innovative and a high velocity experience when these two sides take notice and willfully respect one another.