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

Overview

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 ...

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

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Jascha Hoffman
Starting in the 1980s, Dr. Miller began to spend time with artists who have found their muse in science, and has watched as the scene grew. He knows the field like few others, interviewing many of the artists for hours at a stretch and visiting museums, galleries, media labs, and corporate behemoths like Pixar and Google…A good approach, I found, is to browse the book as if it were a Who's Who of science-driven artists—marveling at a profusion of art that is, just as the author warns, "sometimes beautiful, sometimes disturbing, sometimes subversive, sometimes downright crazy, but always interesting."
Publishers Weekly
★ 03/24/2014
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)
Walter Isaacson
“Arthur I. Miller understands the intersection of art and science better than anyone writing today. In Colliding Worlds, he brilliantly helps us expand our definitions of art and science while encouraging us to appreciate how both involve an intuitive feel for the beauty of the unseen.”
Roger Highfield
“Arthur I. Miller explores what happens when the brainwaves, objectivity and logic of science spark off the inspiration, subjectivity and wildness of art, and vice versa. After tracing out the contacts between these spheres of endeavor, Miller goes even further, suggesting that the boundaries between them are breaking down: science is redefining contemporary art to seed a third culture.”
Mark Pagel
“Arthur I. Miller’s Colliding Worlds answers the age-old question of whether art and science can find common ground with a resounding YES! From the foundations of Cubism to bacterial radios, fluorescent rabbits, and musical hyper-instruments, Miller’s easygoing, anecdotal, and wide-ranging narrative shows how artists exploit cutting-edge advances in science and technology to alter dramatically the palette of artistic invention.”
Martin Rees
“Arthur I. Miller has the rare intellectual range to address the ways modern scientific discoveries have nourished the creativity of artists—and that’s what he’s done in this fine book.”
Grace Labatt - Santa Fe New Mexican
“Illuminating… [A] philosophically rich study of creativity and aesthetics.”
Jascha Hoffman - New York Times Book Review
“[An] encyclopedic survey… Dr. Miller’s grasp of the scene is impressive.”
Kirkus Reviews
2014-05-06
Miller (Emeritus, History and Philosophy of Science/Univ. Coll. London; Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung, 2009, etc.) suggests that we are "witnessing the birth…[of] a third culture in which art, science, and technology will fuse."As the author explains in this review of current trends in avant-garde art, he does not mean this to be taken metaphorically. He believes there to be an actual convergence that extends beyond the use of animation and holography in film. In the future, he writes, "art, science, and technology as we know them today will disappear, fused into a third culture—leaving the door open for the next, as yet unimaginable, avant-garde." The possibilities inherent in digital technology are one part of the story of how advances in technology can be transformative, but the author focuses on the fusion of cutting-edge science and art to form a new discipline, "artsci." A good example is the collaboration of artists and scientists at CERN, a collaboration organized in 1997 by Ken McMullen, a professor at the London Institute (an umbrella organization of area art schools.) This led to a London exhibition called "Signatures of the Invisible," which included a depiction of a particle accelerator using plaster and plastic bags from a supermarket, and another "creat[ing] three-dimensional illusions which seem to move as you walk in front of them" to illustrate paradoxes rooted in perceptions. Miller introduces readers to artistic works that translate sound into light displays and a proposal for bioengineered bones for use in displays and biojewelry. The author suggests that shocking as some of these examples may seem, so too were the cubist paintings of Picasso and the atonal music of John Cage before becoming mainstream.Intriguing, especially for aficionados of the avant-garde.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393083361
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/16/2014
  • Pages: 424
  • Sales rank: 305,354
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Arthur I. Miller is a professor emeritus at University College London. He has published many critically acclaimed books, including Einstein, Picasso; Empire of the Stars; and 137. He lives in London.

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