What is art-science? Is it just technology applied to the arts? Is it a scientific process that gives rise to something beautiful? These are some of the questions that a group of artists and scientists addressed at the first workshop on Art-Science which took place in Sutherland January 12th – 16th , 2011.
Sutherland is an isolated town in the midst of the Karoo in the Northern Cape. With its single main road, sparse commerces and homes, the town offers a very different sight from the sleek domes of the telescopes (http://www.saao.ac.za/) located atop a nearby hill, where scientists gather to observe the night sky. During the day, the harsh sun illuminates the arid landscapes surrounding the town. At night, however, the barrenness disappears from sight and the sky unveils an incredible window into our universe. The Milky Way stretches from one horizon to the other, shooting stars are constantly tracing across the sky, and the Magellanic clouds are clearly visible to the naked eye.
The subject of inspiration naturally became a central topic of discussion. The subject itself is vast, but one element definitely emerged. Both scientists and artists at the workshop were inspired by the desire to understand the world in which we live, even though the tools we use are vastly different.
We had practical lessons too. We learned about community-art from Bronwyn Lace and Marcus Neustetter, two artists based in Johannesburg and dedicated to celebrating Sutherland and its people, see http://www.sutherlandreflections.com. Corn-starch was on the science menu as we played with the strange properties of this non-Newtonian fluid. We also experimented with lasers and glow-in-the-dark tubes.
While these doodles together are not really an attempt at making art-science, this encounter between artists and scientists was the start of a lovely dialog.