The arts’ love affair with the realms of scientific discovery go back centuries to the days of Leonardo Da Vinci, where his methods of scientific theorising influenced by the arts, in particular painting, led to his uniquely holistic view of science, making him a pioneer in his time. Likewise, 16th century Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer’s fascination with the astronomer in his painting of the same name, was a celebration of the new technology at the time. Over the centuries to follow, artists have continued to express their fascination with theories which overlap scientific disciplines in environments similar to laboratories, investigating materials, people and cultures in order to better understand them.
In our modern world, science and art overlap in much the same way and Scenic Rim artist Alinta Krauth’s works explore the interweaving narratives of scientific data, she says:
“You see, in my head art and science is so intertwingled that I find it hard to separate them. To me, they’re different ways to explore the same data – that data being the world around us and the universe beyond. In the end, the sciences make an easy to read version, and the arts make an easy to love version, and both are necessary to allow the general public to be involved with, and find these topics important.
Often when people think of SciArt they think of art created through scientific methods or using scientific themes, but actually I think the connection is much deeper than that, the connection is in the fact that both artists and scientists have to first and foremost be innovative and able to find creative solutions to problems. Without imagination, Newton, Einstein, and Hawkings would not get where they did. Beyond maths, they had to imagine situations and create connections between things that were previously not connected, and that’s what artists and writers do as well. And in the quantum era this is surely even more important. Creators are people who use their mind to make something out of nothing – a great skill – and one that all good scientists, inventors, engineers, architects, mathematicians, etc, require. Stagnant scientists who can’t think creatively are surely going to struggle to advance their field.”
Alinta says her work is also greatly influenced by space. “Growing up in the rainforest has meant that I find the eco sciences and the natural world to be important and beautiful subjects,” she says. And she has incorporated this into one of her current projects Tree:Mails: an interactive work designed to engage the community with their natural environment (more info on this later in the month).
Alinta is an expert at using technology to engage the community and another example of this was her Bioluminous Walking event held on May 1, at Tamborine this year. In this event, she used hidden technology to illuminate the forest pathway with native animals that “would have, at least at one time, been seen in that habitat. It allowed visitors to step into the magic but also keep the rainforest untouched by cumbersome projectors, generators, or computers.”
Local rainforest and bushland also play a significant role in the works of Logan artist Merri Randell. Her work consists of audio-visual installations, animating images of local bush land, particularly the undergrowth, to create an exaggerated experience of the vegetation and wildlife. She says: “[If people can] appreciate the reality of my monstrous trees, they might appreciate other things outside the norm – that these trees, places, people or cultures have value.”
In fact, the value of our natural environment is front and centre to many artists’ environmental explorations, an issue that is more prevalent today than it ever has been. Mankind has never been good at forethought. Particularly when it comes to our ability to look beyond our years and plan for future generations. Art cultures’ participatory nature plays a vital role in continuing to engage people in the dialogue surrounding our current climate – in giving data a relatable narrative.
Sunshine Coast artist, Shana Dean aka Heartweaver uses weaving as a way to engage people with their world again. Her workshops begin with a tour of your local backyard and landscape, where she points out the materials you can find around you to begin your weaving journey.
By learning to search for local indigenous plants, you are encouraged to have a new appreciation of the world and see it in a more practical way. Shana told Pilbara News (WA): “[Weaving] offers a fun and unique way for people to experience connection. Connection with themselves, with others, with their communities and as a deeper way to connect with and appreciate the land we live on.”
Creative exploration of our environment might be the best way to personalise it and imbue the science with colour like Leonardo Da Vinci did all those centuries ago.