Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science Is Redefining Contemporary Art
Arthur I. Miller
A dazzling look at the artists working on the frontiers of science.
In recent decades, an exciting new art movement has emerged in which artists utilize and illuminate the latest advances in science. Some of their provocative creations―a live rabbit implanted with the fluorescent gene of a jellyfish, a gigantic glass-and-chrome sculpture of the Big Bang (pictured on the cover)―can be seen in traditional art museums and magazines, while others are being made by leading designers at Pixar, Google’s Creative Lab, and the MIT Media Lab. In Colliding Worlds, Arthur I. Miller takes readers on a wild journey to explore this new frontier.
Miller, the author of Einstein, Picasso and other celebrated books on science and creativity, traces the movement from its seeds a century ago―when Einstein’s theory of relativity helped shape the thinking of the Cubists―to its flowering today. Through interviews with innovative thinkers and artists across disciplines, Miller shows with verve and clarity how discoveries in biotechnology, cosmology, quantum physics, and beyond are animating the work of designers like Neri Oxman, musicians like David Toop, and the artists-in-residence at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.
From NanoArt to Big Data, Miller reveals the extraordinary possibilities when art and science collide.
70 illustrations, 8 pages of color
been enhanced by nanotechnology, machines will dominate life on earth. Like many computer scientists, Draves thinks Kurzweil overoptimistic, especially as regards the date. But he does think that “there’s something going on. Computers and mathematics can capture the essence of life.” This view may seem materialistic but, after all, he says, the brain is ultimately made up of atoms which obey the laws of quantum physics which, in turn, can be programmed into a computer. So, “in principle
organized a workshop where geneticists informed dramatists about genetic disorders and genetic engineering. Then the Wellcome announced a competition for story lines, with entries judged by an advisory board of playwrights, geneticists, and educators. In 1995, the board commissioned a play by Nicola Baldwin entitled The Gift, about a family’s reaction to the news that one of their children has a lethal genetic disorder. Smaje insisted on the involvement of the advisory board to make sure that the
Arnold, the dynamic head of public programs at the Wellcome Trust, would prefer it if artsci could be eternally emerging and never established. “There’s something exciting about it being discovered. As soon as it becomes settled it becomes an orthodoxy and then, frankly, someone needs to give it a good kicking or else it becomes a bit bland.” A good point: little by little interdisciplinarity will become just another discipline, the avant-garde will become mainstream, and eventually the process
mathematician, or architect”: Ibid. “scientists masquerading as artists”: Willats, interview with Catherine Mason, June 6, 2004, quoted in Mason (2008), 104–5. “a wider consciousness”: Ibid., 103. “could encourage exciting innovation”: Edmonds (2008), 348. “existential romance, glamour and drama”: Ihnatowicz (2008), 111. “science museum for the year 2000”: MacGregor (2008), 83. “one day as a landmark”: Gosling (1968). “lift a finger to entertain them?”: “Fun by Computer,” Evening Standard,
on top of the modern pigments. Matter admitted that the paintings had been in poor condition and that in 2003 and 2004 he had had them heavily restored, rather than having them documented immediately by an art museum or materials analyst. It was a decision he now regretted. But the restoration merely complicated Martin’s analysis. He was able to use sophisticated state-of-the-art microscopy to search beneath the surface to the original pigments. Albano tried to think of ways that Pollock could