A visual timeline of STEM to STEAM incubation from 2003 onward (which is by no means all inclusive) accompanying “On Cultural Polymathy: How Visual Thinking, Culture, and Community Create a Platform for Progress” — an article I wrote for Claremont Graduate University’s The STEAM Journal. Unfortunately, the image wasn’t approved for use so I’m posting it here.
Read the full article.
Credit: Timeline created by Whitney Dail with images from The Institute For Figuring, MAKE Magazine, Science Gallery, John Wiseman, Whitney Dail, Stan Alcorn, World Science Festival, The Creators Project, Miwa Matreyek, and The STEAM Journal.
Place has always been important for the emergence of new products and entire industries. They form crucibles wherein people, ideas, and organizations come together. Silicon Valley outpaced established East Coast electronics centers when young engineers and innovators began to cluster there — committed to the place rather than to particular employers. The same is true of Detroit and motor vehicles, Los Angeles and motion pictures, New Orleans and jazz, Nashville and country music, Boston and publishing, Chicago and advertising, New York and visual art, and San Francisco and product design.
Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa (from Metris Arts Consulting) in Creative Placemaking (PDF), a white paper published by the National Endowment for the Arts on the role of arts and culture in urban planning, livability, and economic development.
"￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Subjects regarded as making important contributions to creative thinking include art and music, but science and mathematics also score highly." —Adobe Systems Incorporated
Adobe has released Creativity and Education: Why it Matters, a new study that sheds light on the role of creativity in career success and the growing belief that creativity is not just a personality trait, but a learned skill.
Download the PDF.
Greg Eltringham’s Dream Houses
Greg is one of my favorite SCAD artists, a faculty member in the painting department. He began this series in 2010, which reminds me of old-timey cartoons and Jim Woodring comics mixed with a little bit of Wes Anderson a la Fantastic Mr. Fox and A Life Aquatic. Rightfully so because the Eltringham family is kind of like the Tenenbaums. His wife Angela is also an artist (they met while attending SCAD in the early 90s) and makes folky paintings and needlepoints of boats, underwear, and limbs. Granger is in high school, aspiring to be a Jacques Cousteau-esque marine biologist, filmmaker, and artist. Penelope, the youngest, is an actress and storyteller with the tiniest Italian greyhound in tow named Olive. We have four Eltringham pieces in our art collection — my love being an embroidery of Dusty Springfield. What does your dream house look like?
Credit: Greg Eltringham. L-R: Typhoon Class, Float, Glazed, The Blue Pretzel, Quick Snack, and Sherbert.
Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave: ‘The Louvre of the Paleolithic Galleries’*
Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams is the story of Chauvet Cave’s great art discovered only in December 1994. It’s a beautiful film offering a sensory experience into Paleolithic man’s paintings (and perhaps early attempts at animation) through music, storytelling, and images that you can only revisit through the DVD. With Herzog as the mediator and a small cast of archeologists and historians, we’re offered a rare glimpse into the human history of the cave and the search for meaning in the artwork as well as nearby landscapes and cultures.
What’s interesting is that even as Herzog follows the scientific investigation, its speculative nature is always present. As the unicyclist-juggler turned archeologist points out, the past cannot ever fully be known or reconstructed. There is just as much mysticism surrounding the people who decorated the caves and the panels upon panels of stunning depictions of horses, ibexes, lions, rhinoceroses, and bears. Two characters named Carole and Gilles have traced and analyzed the contours, layering, and compositions. They believe they can tell truths about the creators (down to one six-foot-tall person with a crooked pinky finger) and the creative process, all by reading line weight, shading, and human handprints.
What scientists DO know about Chauvet is that at approximately 31,000 years old, it’s the oldest known rock art — predating the art in Lascaux. The 1,300-foot cave has been spatially mapped (see above) in its entirety using laser scanners. (These digital images of the cave have stuck with me.) But for all of the scientific research that’s been conducted, we’re still fascinated by the earliest acts of artistic expression. The mysteries of modern human origins, especially early arts and culture, are what keep us searching for answers. Joe Morgenstern wrote in a Wall Street Journal review, “The unknowable or the mysteriously ambiguous in human behavior is what sets Mr. Herzog’s synapses to firing with singular intensity.”
I’ve seen Cave of Forgotten Dreams on four occasions. The first time was in a small, packed theater in Savannah, and it took my breath away. I felt especially moved because in 2007 I studied in the South of France and visited several nearby caves (including Lauscaux II, the recreation) during a Paleolithic rock art course. But the connection is more universal. Do yourself a favor and watch this film on Netflix streaming.
* According to sociobiologist E.O. Wilson in "On the Origins of the Arts" for Harvard Magazine.
Credit: Photo by unknown source. Screencaps by Whitney Dail.
Farewell, Lebbeus Woods
"Lebbeus Woods, an architect whose works were rarely built but who influenced colleagues and students with defiantly imaginative drawings and installations that questioned convention and commercialism, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 72." —The New York Times
I’m deeply saddened to hear that Lebbeus Woods, American architect and founder of the Research Institute for Experimental Architecture, has died. Woods’ dystopic, futurist work offered radical visions re-imagining the present, sometimes realized in buildings and other times in conceptual drawings or models. His influence on pop culture can be seen in the interrogation room of Terry Gilliam’s movie 12 Monkeys, although the adaptation resulted in a sizable lawsuit in Woods’ favor. I’ll remember and admire his ideas about reconstruction, reality, and culture always.
Read an interview with Lebbeus Woods on BLDGBLOG from 2007.
Credit: Manifesto by Lebbeus Woods via Harpreet-Khara.
"There are thousands of da Vinci-likes that are out there in every field that are tying information together and growing beyond it." —Todd Siler
Todd Siler's talk on how ArtScience can save the world from January 2012. Siler is a respected visual artist with a doctorate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Interdisciplinary Studies in Psychology and Art. He coined the word ArtScience in 1990, stemming from his doctoral research on creativity during the eighties, which he defines as the process of “integrative thinking” that joins art with science and vice versa.
Credit: Video by TEDxTalks.
Museum Mondays: Mapping Museum Experience
On October 26, 2012, The New York Times reported the results of a scientific study on the museum-going experience of 576 adults who visited Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum St. Gallen during June to August 2009. Martin Tröndle and his transdisciplinary team of researchers in sociology, psychology, art theory, curatorial practice, and museum visitor studies set out to understand the “art-affected state” — how the museum’s environment influences a visitor’s subconsciousness and emotional reactions to art as well as the psychological effects on their behavior. Dorothy Spears writes in the article:
Among Mr. Tröndle’s more surprising conclusions was that there appeared to be little difference in engagement between visitors with a proficient knowledge of art and “people who are engineers and dentists,” he said, adding that artists, critics and museum directors often walk into the middle of an exhibition space, scan it and then maybe look at one work before continuing on, while visitors with moderate curiosity and interest tend to move diligently from work to work and read text panels.
“We could almost say that knowledge is making you ignorant,” he said.
Interestingly, art perception and movement through the museum differs depending on a visitor’s educational background. An artistic (or aesthetic) result noted on the website is that “The more attention a work accumulates over the week, the more intense the representation becomes. The less a work is observed, the paler its field of influence.” Research on the museum experience is still fresh and ongoing as Tröndle et al. expect their publications to culminate by the end of this year. Learn more about the project here.
Online Article: Tröndle et al. (2011). The Entanglement of Arts and Sciences: On the Transaction Costs of Transdisciplinary Research Settings. Journal for Artistic Research, 1.
Credit: Video by France 24 Le Journal de la Culture via YouTube.
Hugh Aldersey-Williams on the impact of cadmium in art (from Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc):
These superior colours made themselves indispensable to painters. A few had quibbles about their supposed artificiality — William Holman Hunt complained that cadmium yellow ‘at the best is very capricious’ — but most saw the bright, pure colours for what they were. The Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and above all the Fauvists made good use of cadmium — or, it would be more accurate to say, cadmium made possible these successive waves of artistic revolution. As each new tint became available, it powered in turn the yellow sunsets of Monet, the orange-soaked Arles interiors of van Gogh and Matisse’s Red Studio. People have romantically supposed that van Gogh was too hard up to buy the new pigments, while others believe the artist’s mental state may have been affected by his use of cadmium (although he was certainly also using more noxious pigments). What is sure is that he and his peers suddenly had access to a palette of colours of an intensity never seen before. (p. 289)
Credit: Henri Matisse, Red Studio, 1911 (via WikiPaintings).