First meeting: what do science and art have in common?

In June 2017 I have founded a new collaborative group based at ETH Zurich. The objective of the group is to explore scientific themes through different artistic techniques. My reason for founding this group is that I believe that one can interact and understand scientific concepts not only though the language of mathematics but also through other kinds of languages, such as sensorial experiences (visual, textile,musical), and that looking at science from other, less usual perspectives may help not only professional scientists but also those who struggle with the maths and are therefore discouraged towards science.

The first meeting was an introductory meeting. I got the group to draw a simple picture which was for them explanatory of some traits of their character, or expressed a specific feeling they had in that very moment. Then I mixed all the drawings and selected one at a time. Everyone but the drawer was encouraged to say what the drawing meant for them, what it evoked in them, how it made them feel. Finally the drawer could explain his own drawing. The results of this simple activity were stunning! Even the most simple drawings, like a cup of coffee or a beach and the sea were analyse in depth and had astonishing descriptions very close to the truth about their drawers. This activity was thought as a warm up to get to know something about the other, but also has a warm up in using drawing as a way of expression. Afterwards, I asked everyone to give me the first words that they would think for them related to science and art. I wrote them on two sides of a whiteboard. In the end we opened a discussion about those words which belonged just in one of the two categories. We concluded that most words applied to both, and that science and art indeed share a lot of struggles, method, visions. Yet we also discussed how the objectivity of science and the subjectivity of art still makes them fundamentally different.


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