Saturday, June 13, 2009

Artsy science: what about sciency art?

The second annual World Science Festival is underway in New York City. Today's New York Times reports the following highlights:

an investigation of the effects of music on the brain with a performance by Bobby McFerrin

a quest for a long-lost mural by Leonardo Da Vinci at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The science behind "Battlestar Galactica" with actors from the show
"The idea," the Time goes on, "is to mix up art, theater and music with the inevitable talking heads and professional interlocutors like Charlie Rose or Alan Alda..." In Alda's words, "Art needs rigor and science needs creativity."

But if art needs rigor, how come we never see an arts festival correspondingly infused with science and/or rigorous analysis? E.g., something billed as an arts festival that includes lectures on the mathematics of African polythythms, the geometry of Cubist painting, and the poetics and discourse analysis of David Mamet dialogs.

Wouldn't this be an equally effective way of interesting people in science? Or is this perhaps low on the agenda of those who run arts festivals?

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