July 20, 2004

Art and Science

Not much time for explication, as I'm typing this with a pallette knife in my teeth... but I came across this article (I get the ArtJournal newsletter) and I wanted to stick a flag in it so I can come back to it later:

When I scanned the first paragraph, I saw:

As a psychologist previously trained in the humanities and in studio art, I have spent my career applying the science of cognitive psychology (and recently cognitive neuroscience) to studying the creation of and response to art.

And I felt both dread and curiousity. Then I came across this:

Despite the dangers, however, there is much to be learned from the scientific study of art. Why, then, are so many humanists critical of it?

The very different cases of two scientists who have ventured into the field of art history, one from physics, the other from economics, provide a starting point. Both discovered a genuine phenomenon and proposed an explanation for it. The story of the physicist shows how science can make a valuable contribution to our understanding of art and suggests why humanists have failed to recognize the contribution: They are unwilling to play the science game and think like scientists. The story of the economist shows how important it is for scientists not to apply less-stringent criteria when they explain artistic phenomena than when they offer explanations of phenomena in their home discipline.

Let's see if this has any meat on the bone....

Posted by Dennis at July 20, 2004 4:13 AM

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