Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science Is Redefining Contemporary Art

Arthur I. Miller. Norton, $29.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-393-08336-1
Since at least the 18th-century, Western culture has consigned art and science to separate realms, seldom exploring their intersections and using each as discrete explanations of reality. Yet, as historian and philosopher of science Miller so deftly demonstrates in this survey of what he calls “artsci,” both artists and scientists—since at least Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon—have probed the porous border between art and science, creating aesthetic objects that incorporate scientific ideas—such as Suzanne Anker’s Zoosemiotics, “tiny chromosomal sculptures laid out in identical pairs”—or engaging in the type of process-driven “interdisciplinarity” found at the MIT Media Lab. Miller eloquently chronicles the story of artsci in brief vignettes of the lives and works of the individuals working at the intersections of these disciplines. For example, “semi-living sculptures” like the Pig Wings of Australian husband-and-wife team Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr took shape while reflecting on pigs actually flying. They used “stem cells from a pig’s bone marrow” to create a sculpture from living tissue that “provide a platform to study ethical issues around life.” Through these works and many others, Miller declares confidently that art and science will merge into a long-overdue third culture, opening the door to the “next, as yet unimaginable, avant-garde.” Illus. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/24/2014
Release date: 06/01/2014
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