Re: art&science

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Tue Apr 11 2000 - 12:38:40 MDT

On Monday, April 10, 2000 5:11 PM E. Shaun Russell
> >I wouldn't say it quite that way--art that avoids constraints is crap,
> >like most free verse or abstract visual art or interpretive dance.
> >Great art thrives on constraints: sonnets, realistic visual art, ballet.
> >The constraints, though, are chosen by the artist.
> I agree wholeheartedly. Most of the enjoyment I get out of art is in the
> creation of constraints. For example when I was somewhat more poetically
> inclined, I created an interesting form of sixteen lines with sixteen
> syllables per line. The symmetry it creates can be very intriguing, and
> becomes both mathematical and artistic. Music is the same way: it is all
> time signatures and note choice. That's why a song in 9/8 is usually more
> interesting than the standard 4/4. As I have been saying for years,
> science and art have more in common than is commonly thought.

Another problem here is that while we can from the outside or post hoc view
it this way and perhaps the artist can internally do so, often the
feeling -- as conveyed by various artists in their writings (from my
readings of, e.g., the letters of painter Vinvent van Gogh and the essays of
poet Richard Hugo here) that they might not directly see the constraints
they are working with, but rather the ones they are working against. By
this is meant, if one rebels against a certain style by coming up with a new
one, the latter is seen as liberating rather than taking off old shackles
and putting on new ones. (No doubt part of this is that one has not yet
fully explored the bounds of the new constraints.)

I would also point out, too, that some artists view their work as exposing
some truth about the world. This is a view which I'm sympathetic to. For
instance, van Gogh, wrote:

"I can still find no better definition of art than this,
Art is man added to nature - nature, reality, truth,
but with a significance, a conception, a character,
which the artist brings out in it, to which he gives
expression, which he disentangles, sets free,
and interprets." (1879)

This might be reworded to read: "Art is reality as the artist's mind sees

This view, quite similar to that of Kenyon Cox's notion that different art
forms and works expose different orders of truth (see his essay "What is
Painting?"; I reviewed some of Cox's ideas at and, even, Rand's view of
art. (I had to bring her into the mix -- merely because I'm most familiar
with her views.:) In the views of these people, the artistic imagination
reveals when it creates. This is in some ways much like the Ancient view of
mimesis -- of art as imitation.

My additional two cents!

Daniel Ust

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