One of the senior artists at the Exploratorium recently asked all the science types at the museum, “Could you tell me why you value art and the artists here?” Here’s what I told her:
The artists at the Exploratorium tickle my brain. The art exhibits at the Exploratorium, as well as the conversations with artists, have had a tangible effect upon my creativity. My mind was humming in my first months here as I was exposed to new representations of things that I had a tendency to think of in an abstract way (equations and theory, for example, or bland “textbook” examples.) I can’t say that being around artists has taught me to *create* things with an aesthetic appeal, but it certainly has opened my vision to seeing things in a new way and to consider aesthetics as an aim in itself. The art at the Exploratorium also opens me up to wonder. It is easy to get lost in the seriousness of science, reading the latest science news or considering detailed questions of why something works. When I walked in and saw the new installation — the one with the lightbulbs whose illumination chases each other around — my mind went a little fizzy and I just stood there and appreciated it. It also reminded me of many things that I know about — neuronal networks, electronic circuitry, persistence of vision. I appreciated it on an aesthetic ground, and it also represented many things in science for me.
Photo was taken by Sebastian Martin at the Liminality exhibition.