It could be thought that art and science are two different, distinct disciplines. They are seen as separate in schools and are seen as different pursuits and career choices. However, arts and science are very closely linked and share many commonalities and crossovers. Both science and art require creativity, innovation and passion. Creativity is required to make any scientific breakthrough, and art is often an expression of (or product of) scientific knowledge (EBSCO). This complex relationship is seen in all art, including visual art, TV and film, music and theatre.
Science has been used throughout history to inspire and be the focus of visual art. Leonardo Da Vinci is well known for his paintings, including the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. However, art wasn’t Da Vinci’s only discipline and he was an accomplished engineer and scientist (Science Friday). For his depiction of people, he studied humans muscles and skeleton, and he did many anatomical sketches and studies (Phaidon) to inform his artwork. In history, visual art was used to depict medical procedures and anatomy. Many paintings showed scenes of operations, treatments and dissections (Daily Art). These paintings give us a unique insight into procedures at the time and give us a deeper understanding of the history of medicine.
For as long as artistic expression has existed, 'it has benefited from interplay with scientific principles' (Cosmos). This could be in the form of experimenting with new artistic materials or the use of technology to enhance art. This can be seen in the history of theatre. There has been a great progression from the ancient origins of theatre, with performances in daylight with minimal set, to great theatrical spectacles including projection, light shows and holograms (Arts Emerson). This progression has allowed artists to use technology to enhance their storytelling, and create more vivid worlds on the stage. Theatre, film and performances which focuses on science have been used to engage the public with scientists work and big ideas. Work has been created around many scientific topics including climate change, public health, biodiversity and physics. Many of these topics are big and complex, but 'dancers, actors and performers can help us make sense of them' through stories (The Stage). For these performances, it's highly important that the science portrayed is accurate and correct. For art that incorporates scientific plot lines or creates either earthly or fantasy events based around scientific occurrences, often scientists are bought into the writing room and onto the set to ensure the science is accurate and portrayed correctly. This has happened in medical shows such as Grey's Anatomy (UW Medicine), and movies like Avengers (2012-2019), Gravity (2013) and Twister (1996) (Physics World).
Science is also used to explain why certain artworks are seen as so appealing to the human eye and ear. In visual art, the ‘Golden Ratio’ is a mathematic formula that is used by artists to ensure their works are balanced and visually appealing. This ratio is found frequently in nature, and although the reason is unknown, the human eye is drawn to images with this ratio and we as humans, find it appealing (Art Ignition). The colour wheel and colour theory are also tools used in art to create visually appealing works. The first circular diagram of colours was produced in 1666 by Sir Isaac Newton, and since has been used to create harmonious colour pallets (Colour Matters). In music, harmony is created when more than one note is played together. Whether these notes sound pleasant (consonance) or clash (dissonance) can be explained scientifically. The effect of two notes being played together depends on the frequency of each note and the ratio between the two (Britannica). In these cases, science can be used to explain why specific works of art invoke certain feelings and emotions to the viewer/listener.
It's easy to forget just how connected arts and science art. But they have never been as connected as they are in this modern age. During the pandemic, most of our art has been consumed on a computer over the internet, whether that is music, tv and film or live streamed theatre.
"Both science and art are human attempts to understand and describe the world around us" (Forbes). Scientists and artists use their work (both together and separately) as a tool to deepen our understanding of the world, and of each other. They have a complex and everlasting relationship and future scientific inventions and technology will continue to impact the art we create. Who knows what the future holds...
Title Quote - Leonardo Da Vinci (Goodreads)