Exposed! Sensual Science

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Not content with the either-or of the science-art division, a nascent community of people equally at home in the sciences and the arts has sprung into existence, taking ideas and themes uncovered inductively and adding a painterly interpretation to the results. If you're on LinkedIn, you will find such enthusiasts in the Scientist Artist Collaboration. As Glendon Mellow, who is a member of that group points out in Scientific American, the pursuit isn't new knowing, at least as understood by science, but to "[bounce] on the trampoline of scientific processes to spring to new areas and ideas."

Now that's language the IdeaFestival understands!

The Allosphere takes a similar approach by turning massive data sets into digital theater, the better for human eyes to pick out those unexpected connections. IdeaFestival blog readers will have already encountered it in these pages. Thinking outside the atmosphere, Project Calliope will sample the ionosphere, turning what it finds into music released under the creative commons and available to anyone to remix. There are many, many exmaples of projects that span the knowing divide.

The thing that Mellow and others realize is that the art-science divide is an artificial one and, moreover, that if what we see is but a representation of a deeper, stranger, more mind-blowing reality anyway - and it is - we need the artist to amplify, to bounce, to make the science we get understandable. Our brains after all are not interested in the world as it is, but in a world that makes sense.

We need a sensual science.

Thanks in part to the work of collaborators like Alice Stites from Art Without Walls, the IdeaFestival has a rich history of bringing interactive art and artists to Louisville, with the likes of Ned Kahn, Daan Roosegaarde and Ruby Lerner and Creative Capital, among many others, or like author Jonah Lehrer, who tackles the science of the mind with an artist's sensibilities, and who memorably provided the "world that makes sense" insight I just used.

Won't you come bounce with us next September?