Laurie Anderson on scientists: "They don't know what they're looking for either"

The painterly and enigmatic Laurie Anderson has something to say to scientists in an interview with the music site, The Quietus:

'I think that scientists have the same problems that artists do,' Laurie Anderson says down the phone line. 'They have a lot more in common with artists than you'd think, because they don't know what they're looking for either. And they do things in a similar way to artists. They get a kind of idea, just a hunch, and then make stuff.' She should know, as the first and last artist-in-residence at NASA - a post she accepted because she, 'Loved it that they had no idea what it was, so I just made it up' - she spent a lot of time with scientists. Just being a 'fly on the wall," as she says, for two years, meeting people and talking to people (really fantastic conversations) she would never normally have met in the art world. But she insists, 'Like artists, they have to answer the same question: How do you know when it's done?'

Murray Gell-Mann once asked, "do we need something more to explain something more?"

Good question. While the search is less random than a game of hide-and-go-seek, in outcome I wonder what criteria are used by musicians and (lets pick again) physicists to judge the finish. Beauty? Compactness? Elegant order?

Perhaps at the IdeaFestival, Ben Sollee and Sean Carroll might offer their answers to "when is it done?"

Wayne