On the other hand, some people love mysteries, or read only mysteries: specialization has
its benefits and uses, one of which is filtering
an unmanageable number of potential reads.
Likewise, with 100+ galleries in New York
City alone, the art world is too big to navigate
without some filter. The term SciArt, in calling attention to the subject matter of concern,
helps artworks that relate to science distinguish
themselves and come together to form a movement.
II. What is SciArt?
What is that category, exactly? What is
SciArt? Is it art for which science is the subject?
Is SciArt a style, a way of representing things?
Instead of representing the world abstractedly
or minimally or impressionistically, representing
it as data? Is it a kind of documentary work, recording the world using not cameras but microscopes and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
machines? Does science become the artistic
medium, as with much BioArt, in which art can
be created using biological tissues and cultures?
While what truly defines a work or artists as
“science-based” is best determined on a case-bycase basis, SciArt generally covers any scientific
topic in either subject matter, method, or both,
and oftentimes includes new technology made
for scientists used for the creation of art.
III. A Center of Gravity
The simplicity of the Venn diagram belies the
fact that the relationship between science and
SciArt is very different from the relationship
between SciArt and art. SciArt does not compete with science. It does compete with other
SciArt is welcomed within the world of science with good reason. Science and art have
deep philosophical ties. Maryam Zaringhalam,
graduate student at Rockefeller University
and founder of ArtLab, a blog created to bring
science and art together, said, “As a scientist,
I have a deep respect for the artist's ability to
distill down enormously complicated concepts
and questions—many of which have fundamentally intrigued scientific thinkers for cen“All of them,” said Levy. “Or parts of them. It’s turies—into a work of art for anyone to stop
whatever the artist wants to take from it.”
and experience. It's that stripping down and
overall shift in context that has really drawn me
“The Sci in SciArt is often changing in my
to the art and science intersection, especially
work,” said Laura Splan, a New York-based visu- given that I’m constantly looking to share my
al artist whose work relates to the human body. fascination with and awe of the natural world.”
In her work, Splan has approached science in a
This attitude is common among scientists when
variety of ways including using blood as a draw- talking about SciArt, and has given rise to work
ing material, altering medical devices to absurd created through science/art collaborations, such
proportions, using antique medical atomizers
as those featured in the “Imag(in)ing Science”
to apply paint, and weaving doilies based on the show at Indiana University. SciArt is consissymmetry found in viruses.
tently welcomed into institutions devoted to
science and science-related themes, such as the
BioArt, the biology-based sector of scienceNew York Hall of Science, in Queens, the New
based art, does have a specific, if broad definiYork Academy of Sciences, in Manhattan, and
tion; Suzanne Anker, BioArt pioneer, wrote the the Observatory, in Brooklyn.
definition of the term for the Oxford Dictionary of Art. BioArt is a “renegade child of the
“In the art-science world, unlike the New
way in which art addresses the most important
York art world as a whole, the center of gravity
issues in the future of the planet,” said Anker.
is more in museums and nonprofit spaces,” said
“It’s neither media-specific nor geographicallyFeldschuh. “There are a number of galleries in
based. It’s a contentious term.” Anker’s definiNew York that I would consider to have a partion has three facets: art generated through the ticular focus on art-science or technology in art,
tools of biology, such as microscopes and MRI
but there are more museum opportunities, and
machines; art created using digital means, inthe museum shows that I personally have had
cluding art made using computer algorithms or have come from museums that have had more
artificial intelligence; and art made with wet-lab of an art-science background.” Daniel Hill, a
painter whose work deals with the way com-
SciArt in America December 2013