Art and Science. Some would tell you that these two subjects are on the opposite ends of a spectrum. Art leans toward the emotional side while science is on the side of data and logic. They would have you believe that the two subjects are as different as chalk and cheese and “never the twain shall meet”. Except for one small truth: the two are actually interlinked.
It is commonly believed that appreciation of Art lies in the eye of the beholder — in other words, Art thrives in the realm of subjectivity. It is supposed to be an abstract expression of one’s thoughts using the knowledge they have gleaned from the world around them. When Art students look at something, they are supposed to be able to see
more than what just appears in front of them; they see the poetry behind the prose, the emotion beyond the stoic and the possibilities hiding behind the impossible. Art can be visual, literary, or performed; the vehicle for art is limited only by the imagination.
Science on the other hand is said to be more objective. It is supposed to be a logical expression of one’s hypothesis using the data collected from repeatable experiments. An SAS 10th Grader and science student, Yash Talekar, talks about “how there was more emphasis on gathering proof since science was based on facts, and that we need evidence to support our theories in order to put forward our ideas and not be ridiculed”. A science student is expected to make no assumptions about what appears in front of them – they are supposed to make inferences based on the data presented to them. While Science can utilize the discreet subjects of Maths, Physics, Botany and a litany of others, the study and expression of Science is bound by the cold walls of reason and scientific principle.
But are the two subjects really that different? There was a time during my childhood years that I believed the two were indeed polar opposites. But, over the years, as I observed more of the world around me, I began to notice the blurring of these boundaries — the artistic and scientific universes seemed to be colliding and it became clear to me that while practicing one, you’re also using the other. This led me to examine some careers where both Art and Science are extensively used.
SAS High School Ceramics teacher, Mr. Pabotoy, explains that while art has been a big part of his life since high school, it became evident to him during college that science had to be an integral part of his repertoire to help him excel in his art career.
“I took an anatomy and physiology class in college”, he said. Mr. Pabotoy pointed out that in order to draw the various bone structures and “break down the shapes”, he needed to be able to understand the bone structure in animals —something that could be obtained only by taking the anatomy and physiology class. And now as a Ceramics teacher, he talks about how he tries to explain “glaze chemistry” to his students by describing “how the chemicals work in the kiln and react with each other.”
The blending of the Arts and Science disciplines can be seen in many other professions. Architects avail their art skills to design eye-pleasing structures by applying their engineering science skills to construct safe, functional and environmentally friendly structures. Science Illustrators, people who portray visually the scientific observations made of the natural world, are required to be trained in art, graphic design and animation. However, these illustrators start off their career in the science field of engineering, immunology, research and biochemistry. This mingling of capabilities leads to the creation of visually stunning yet scientifically accurate works of art.
Isn’t it odd the way people end up finding art embroidered into science? For example, when we think of mathematics we automatically think of numbers. But, how can math be an art? Well, it turns out maths is the foundation of an art-form called fractals – the study of which is called Fractal Geometry. Fractals are the order behind the chaos that nature presents and can be witnessed in various patterns that define nature – the shape of snail shells, the arrangement of flower petals and the spirals of fern tendrils.
So does it mean when one is studying to be a screenwriter, they might have to take a course in microbiology? While that may be a little difficult to answer, the reality is that the seemingly different paths of Art and Science are often intertwined with one another. The Ceramics teacher at SAS and the professional architect both mix art and science unconsciously in their daily lives. The famous painter Vincent Van Gogh might shed light on our question; he was an artist who used fractals in the swirls and halos of his painting “Starry Nights” to evoke deep emotions.