Without art there is no science – Faces of Science

Without art there is no science – Faces of Science

In high school, you can choose one of four profiles: Culture and Society, Economy and Society, Nature and Health, and Nature and Technology. These profiles are quite straightforward, but you can often take additional courses. I belonged to a group of students who did not remain within the chosen profile: with a relatively unusual mix of science and society subjects. However, this combination is not as strange as it seems; Economics, technology, health and culture often go hand in hand. However, the strict categories that you also see in high schools are still used regularly on the international scene. Choose “Art and Science” as the topic Science party Therefore it was a bull's eye.

I'm at a science party

Marti Sophie for Nemo Kineslink

Science Gala 2023

This annual event, organized by New Scientist magazine, consists of an evening program that addresses current issues in science in an informal and light-hearted way. This eleventh edition was full of presentations on art and science. For example, two scientists, a neuroarchitect and an artist, discussed the impact of space and light on human well-being in a presentation on city planning. To give us an idea, they filled the stage with waves of light.

Marine biologist Lisa Picking wanted to make the public feel connected to the sea in an innovative way to draw attention to the loss of biodiversity in coral reefs. She allowed us to smell the scent cards with whiffs of sea air, seaweed and wetsuits – to spark hopeful nostalgia in us.

This evening addressed all the senses: performances were followed by music and dance performances. Eric Scherder, a professor of neuropsychology, explained that music, singing, and movement help the two hemispheres of the brain communicate better. The fact that music, singing and dancing have a positive effect on emotions is demonstrated not only by science. The theater audience also became increasingly cheerful while singing. In an interview conducted by New Scientist editor-in-chief Jim Jansen with Robert Dijkgraaf, the outgoing Minister of Education, Culture and Science and a physics professor, Dijkgraaf said: “He learned to be an art school researcher by trying a lot of things.” Things'.

The winning entry for the 2023 Robbert Dijkgraaf Essay Prize was about science as doing something fundamentally new – as the modernist artist and art theorist Kazimir Malevich did with his colored black square – no one had done this before and in this way the art world was left shocked, its foundations shaken. One thing became clear during this evening: access to knowledge and room for curiosity and creativity are essential to every scientific field.

Characteristics of art and science

What exactly is the relationship between art and science? In addition to the practical principles of curiosity, creativity, and experimentation, you'll see two important common qualities in the end result: experience and connection. People sometimes think that experiencing art is something that only happens in museums and requires prior knowledge, but it turns out that the opposite is true. Visual culture is everywhere. In the newspaper cartoons, in the clothes you wear, in the city you move through. The same applies to science. Looking at an old painting, listening to music, or solving a math problem: all three of these things can provide you with a completely unique, joyful experience.

Then the communication factor. Art and science can also ensure the transfer and exchange of knowledge and ideas. Professor Louise Fresco explains this in her book Cross-Pollination (2014), in which she explores exchanges between plants, animals and cultures, through themes such as innovation and evolution. An example from the 15th century is the work of Hieronymus Bosch, in which countless fascinating figures not only represent religious thinkers but also stimulate the curious gaze. Both art and science encourage thought.

In practice: art and science

These links between art and science are often clearly reflected in applied art forms. Thus, early modern illustrations of human anatomy pushed medicine and knowledge forward. In addition, art has also played an important role in designing the spaces in which doctors practice medicine and care for patients. For example, religious images and decorations provided spiritual support in early nursing homes and monasteries.

Nowadays, patients especially need a personalized environment. In the 21st century, technical policy in Dutch university hospitals has roughly three trends:

  1. Healing environment. As scientific research shows, art has stress-reducing properties. This includes landscaping
  2. Quality reflective art. Top artists and independent arts suggest senior sponsorship
  3. Comforting or reassuring art. Familiar topics distract you as a patient

Art and science, both in historical medical development and in medical practice, have never been separated. Applications therefore vary from religious support, encouraging images of doctors and guardians, to bright paintings by Karel Appel or disturbing images of grassy landscapes and virtual reality experiences.

Illustrations not only support knowledge, but they also evoke familiar feelings. For example, with friendly and surprising story impressions. For example, around 2005, Quentin Blake (famous for his illustrations of Roald Dahl stories) was commissioned to decorate the walls of hospitals in England. It has been said about this type of art: “Drawing is an art that has a function to perform.” We should not underestimate the supporting role that art plays in healthcare and science, historically and in the future.

Back to the science party. With his Black Square, Malevich hoped to create an art form that created a new reality and no longer had anything to do with nature or the things around us. However, you may continue to question whether or not this was successful. His desire to create, anticipate experience and communicate information remains directly connected to nature and community. I would like to say: Art is not in looking, but in seeing. Scientists are now even photographing invisible black holes. At the end of the evening, at the Leidseplein International Theater in Amsterdam, I was inspired to continue my artistic, historical and scientific studies at full speed.

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