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... but is it Art?
5.14.2001 by Professor Particle


Art is art, and science is science, and never the twain shall meet. Scientists, mathematicians, and engineers are notoriously devoid of any appreciation for anything beautiful or inspiring. Esoteric formulas, meaningless streams of data, the latest dehumanising gadget - there's not even a trace of anything artistic to come out of the research perpetrated by these uncultured culprits. I think the evidence on the web will bear me out on this one.

First of all, there are the computer scientists and mathematicians that spend all day on a computer instead of turning their heads to look out a window every once in awhile. The obvious exception was the unusually extroverted chaos theorist played by Jeff Goldblum in the masterpiece Jurassic Park. But c'mon, he might have been able to kick a velociraptor's ass, but there is definitely nothing cool about chaos theory. I think that fractals were mentioned in an episode of Murphy Brown once, but that only further strengthens my point. The only people deluded enough to think it was art were the same math geeks who had a Mandelbrot pattern on their desktop. That is SO twentieth century.
Another place where science and technology tries to come across as hip, is by applying the trendy prefix of "nano" to everything. In the end, when the novelty wears off, people will realise what I've known for years: you can't make art with atoms. However, if you've got a few xenon atoms lying around, you can make the world's smallest corporate logo. It's enough to make adbusters start inspecting everything with microscopes. People are even resorting to simulations so they don't have to bother getting their hands dirty with real atoms. Sheesh, how desperate is that? Even after a hard day of pushing around atoms, I'm unconvinced. If it's too small to see with my eye, it's not art.

Equally annoying as "nano", is its brother "micro". I see that even Tangmonkey's own Sean was suckered into buying the hype of Sandia National Labs. Their mite-on-microgears images have infiltrated the cover of one of the micromachining books in my lab, not to mention the posters from several conferences. Great art is found in museums, not on the cover of textbooks.

The most insidious attempt to pass off scientific data as art is found in astronomy. When normal people want to pretend that space can be artsy, they rent 2001, fast forward to the freak-out-space-tunnel-foetus-light-show-weirdo-ending, and drop acid. When scientists try to convince you that pictures of space are interesting to most people, they call up their media contacts and give them the latest pictures from Hubble. Sometimes their images manage to become unduly popular, like the picture of M16, (No, not the gun... the galaxy) which can be found in such prominent places as on the cover of Shalabi Effect's album and in the column banner of General Irrelativity. Don't let them fool you. Space exploration is definitely not art, unless you're talking about brilliant works like Deep Space Nine... To boldly sit in space where no one has sat in space before!

Particle physicists have always been scheming to legitimise their work as art. The crafty people at CERN have even enlisted the aid of genuine artists to fool the public. Pretty damn sneaky, but it won't work now that I've exposed the cunning ruse to the world.

It seems that my hastily-written, rambling diatribe has come to an abrupt end. I'm certain that now everyone agrees that geeks don't have an ounce of creativity in their frail, little, sun-starved, jock-beaten bodies. Sarcasm aside, I'll at least provide you with one set of scientific images that will leave you awe-struck by their sheer beauty. Long will they resonate within the human imagination.

...but is it art?




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