Excerpts from Stephen Wilson’s Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology that aptly illustrate why Open Access Antiquarianism is seeking to blend our study of technology and archaeology with art:
“What do art and science have to do with each other? Information Arts takes and unorthodox look at this question focusing on the revolutionary work of artists and theorists who challenge the separations initiated in the Renaissance. It points toward a possible future in which the arts can reassume their historical role of keeping watch on the cultural frontier and in which the sciences and the arts inform each other.
Research has become a center of cultural innovation: its results are radically influencing life and thought. Our culture needs to participate in defining research agendas, conducting inquiries, and analyzing their meanings. Artists should be hungry to know what researchers are doing and thinking, and scientists and technologists should be zealous to know of artistic experimentation. The future will be enriched if this expansion of zones of interest becomes a part of the definition of art and science.
Scientific and technological research should be viewed more broadly than in the past: not only as specialized technical inquiry, but as cultural creativity and commentary, much like art. It can be appreciated for its imaginative reach as well as its disciplinary or utilitarian purposes. Like art, it can be profitably analyzed for its subtexts, its association to more general cultural forces, and its implications as well as its surface rationales.
Art that explires technological and scientific frontiers is an act of relevance not only to a high-brow niche in a segregated corner of our culture. Like research, it asks questions about the possibilities and implications of technological innovation. It often explores different inquiry pathways, conceptual frameworks, and cultural associations than those investigated by scientists and engineers. …..
The arts and sciences are two great engines of culture: sources of creativity, places of aspiration, and markers of aggregate identity. Before the Renaissance, they were united. Science was called natural philosophy. Philosophers were as likely to speculate about art and science as about religion and truth. Similarly in tribal societies the philosopher, shaman, and artist were likely to be the same person. Visual and performance arts were integrated into the fabric of rituals and daily life. The artist who sang stories or carved ritual objects was likely to be the person who was especially observant and wise about the ways of the heavens, the weather, animals, plants, the earth, and life, and death.
In the West, the Renaissance initiated a era of specialization. Science became codified as a segregated set of processes and worldviews. While its accomplishments in providing new understanding of old mysteries increased confidence in its claims, art moved in its own direction, largely ignoring the agendas of science. During the Industrial Revolution, science inspired technology and technology inspired science. Research and invention spread into every corner of life, but mainstream art seemed oblivious (to science)….”
Wilson goes on to encourage an urgent reexamination of this segregation between art and science. He insists (and rightly so) that creative exploration of scientific topics and technology inspires new avenues of approach and solicits wider audiences.
With Open Access Antiquarianism, and its Cabinet of Curiosities, we’d like to follow these promptings, and investigate the science and technology concepts we have been pursuing in new lights, outside of the mainstream laboratory box of academia.