A dazzling look at the artists working on the frontiers of science.
In recent decades, an exciting new art movement has emerged in which artists utilize and illuminate the latest advances in science. Some of their provocative creations—a live rabbit implanted with the fluorescent gene of a jellyfish, a gigantic glass-and-chrome sculpture of the Big Bang (pictured on the cover)—can be seen in traditional art museums and magazines, while others are being made by leading designers at Pixar, Google’s Creative Lab, and the MIT Media Lab. In Colliding Worlds, Arthur I. Miller takes readers on a wild journey to explore this new frontier.
Miller, the author of Einstein, Picasso and other celebrated books on science and creativity, traces the movement from its seeds a century ago—when Einstein’s theory of relativity helped shape the thinking of the Cubists—to its flowering today. Through interviews with innovative thinkers and artists across disciplines, Miller shows with verve and clarity how discoveries in biotechnology, cosmology, quantum physics, and beyond are animating the work of designers like Neri Oxman, musicians like David Toop, and the artists-in-residence at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.
From NanoArt to Big Data, Miller reveals the extraordinary possibilities when art and science collide.
Since at least the 18th-century, Western culture has consigned art and science to separate realms, seldom exploring their intersections and using each as discrete explanations of reality. Yet, as historian and philosopher of science Miller so deftly demonstrates in this survey of what he calls "artsci," both artists and scientists since at least Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon have probed the porous border between art and science, creating aesthetic objects that incorporate scientific ideas such as Suzanne Anker's Zoosemiotics, "tiny chromosomal sculptures laid out in identical pairs" or engaging in the type of process-driven "interdisciplinarity" found at the MIT Media Lab. Miller eloquently chronicles the story of artsci in brief vignettes of the lives and works of the individuals working at the intersections of these disciplines. For example, "semi-living sculptures" like the Pig Wings of Australian husband-and-wife team Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr took shape while reflecting on pigs actually flying. They used "stem cells from a pig's bone marrow" to create a sculpture from living tissue that "provide a platform to study ethical issues around life." Through these works and many others, Miller declares confidently that art and science will merge into a long-overdue third culture, opening the door to the "next, as yet unimaginable, avant-garde." Illus.