Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Science vs. Art? Science + Art?

Shawn Jordan sent me this link to a talk on TED. I was fascinated with some of the responses - people saying this wasn't all that new, that science and art are clearly integrated, that the speaker lacks motivational quality...and I wondered if an important message was lost. As someone who studies how different disciplines interact - it tends not to be a question of "should" they work together, but rather questioning the boundaries between disciplines in terms of "how" they work together (where do the boundaries come from, what purpose do they serve?). I won't name names, but there is a program that integrates engineering and art - yet the "entrance" into the program is GRE scores and a math requirement. People with Master of Fine Arts exit their program with a portfolio. How do these different value systems mesh? On a similar note, when schools have money problems - which programs get cut first? What arguments are used?


Hanjun said...

Very interesting talk. It seems like I am such a mixture in that I spent my first two years in college in student association as a designer of poster, book cover and web page but in the meanwhile, I was a student in Computer Science. I don't agree wholly, as Mae mentioned, that "scientist is not creative whereas artist is not analytical". They have their own criteria of measurement for these two metrics. On the one hand, CS students may admire the beauty of the essence of an seemingly obscure algorithm. On the other hand, golden ratio is a common concept in creating art pieces. But I agree that both sides could benefit a lot by exposing more to the other. If engineers are expected to be the ones who create practical products in real world, they are destined to learn the amalgam of science and art, aren't they?

Sensen Li said...

Which programs get cut first when school face financial problems? Well, can we cut two at the same time, one is from the science, and the other one is from the art to keep the balance? I am also questioning how they can work together, and what criteria we can use to assess if the "integrated" program could be more successful than either of the them. Also, can we take the risk if the integrated program failed? Should we use the "integrated" criteria to judge the quality of the integrated programs? Why do the mysterious program only use GRE scores and a math requirement as the entrance test? Can't a painting or a dance video account? So after I watched the video, I feel like the speaker described an utopia without pointing out the way to it. What is missing in her speech is the bridge between the current place to the ideal place. We can't deny that some features of the perfect goal can enlighten us to improve the current status. Also, I was impressed by the following sentence: "Science provides an understanding of a universal experience. Arts provides a universal understanding of a personal experience". It is philosophical enough to stimulate my critical thinking.

Robin said...

Good eye Sensen -"Science provides an understanding of a universal experience. Arts provides a universal understanding of a personal experience".

It's back to that "and" space not "either/or".

And yes, Hanjun, while they connect they do not share the same values or rules (and that's as it should be I think) - but they do need to learn to honor the rules and values of the other if real integration is to happen.

As for the mysterious program - the question of what "counts" is exactly an epistemological and philosophical question. for me, when they say they are "interdisciplinary" i think, perhaps not.