This encyclopedia-like book by Stephen Wilson investigates the relationship between art, technology, research, and science to discover that they are interconnected in many ways.
A brief introduction
Technology is always associated with science, and science is always associated with the frontiers of technological advancements. But this notion of the specialisation of roles in science and art is a idea that only started since the Renaissance. Art making and scientific research actually goes through similar methodologies, as well as pushes the boundaries of technology. For the longest time, people have always been creating and inventing, figuring out how something works before knowing why it does. This intuitiveness and creativity generate new ways of using technology, while a deeper understanding of its mechanisms further pushes it; all in all improving and generating new technology. In this manner, art and science worked hand-in-hand in the creation of technology. Are we able to break away from the notion of art being “creative” and science being “technical”? This book aims to address that issue and see how art and science is coming together in the information age.
Included in the book are some of the best research-inspired artworks that Wilson believes to be thought-provoking and revolutionary, in hopes to challenges our notion of art and science.
Wilson explains the relevant ideas in understandable chunks in the introduction, followed by a categorisation of works based on a group of topics (eg. “Biology: Microbiology, Animals and Plants, Ecology, and Medicine and the Body”). Within the categories, Wilson further explains information that is relevant to the topics and lists a few artists that uses such ideas.
Example, in the Biology category, Wilson explains Bionics and stated examples like a nerve chip that Stanford researchers created which reads nerve signals, decodes them, and operate prosthetics. Wilson then goes further in depth to look at individual artists what delves in different aspects of biology. For example, in the “Medicine and the Body” subcategory, he lists down notable artists like Stelarc, Marcel.li Antunez Roca, ORLAN, and their notable works with a brief description and other relevant information.
I had no time to read through everything, but I was really interested in many of the examples and ideas he listed, especially under the “Medicine and the Body” section as that is within my current interest. It is a very comprehensive and informative book which talks about a really relevant topic in our current time.
I am also interested to learn more about what he said about science, art, and technology. I guess I find it relatable as pop-science (despite its bad reputation as being too watered down) really inspires me. Video channels like VSauce and Kurzgesagt shaped my ideas and thoughts to where I am now, and I love to base my project and works around these ideas.
Wilson, Stephen. Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science and Technology. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002.