From the Editor
by Allison Myers
There is something so fun about mixing art and science. For one, it’s got a certain naughtiness about it—an illicit union between two fields that, more often than not, avoid even a passing glance in each other’s direction. For two, experiments are exciting no matter what field they’re in. When I was invited to guest edit this issue of …might be good I noticed that a number of exhibitions, in Texas and elsewhere, were addressing various topics that brought this union to light—the nature of experimentation, the precision of looking and the differences between the subjective and the objective, to name a few.
The standard view of science and art is that they fundamentally exist at opposite poles of human endeavor. Science uses logic, math and systematic reasoning to attain a pure, objective understanding of the world that is descriptive on a practical level. Art, on the other hand, is a subjective event that expresses individual experience and interest in the world rather than describing it in practical, universal terms. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as art and science have come together in countless ways and for countless reasons since the idea of science began, from naturalist drawing and anatomical studies to Cubism and the work of collectives like the Critical Art Ensemble.
One of the major ways artists today engage with science is to simply adopt a scientific-looking aesthetic. We see this in the work of Cameron Fuller at the Saint Louis Art Museum’s Great Rivers Biennial, where the objectivity of natural history museums gets filtered through the personalized memories of one man. As William Gass points out, Fuller adopts the guise of an “institute” in order to lend his DIY constructions an air of officiated history. This is a tactic also used by Totally Wreck Production Institute in their show at Big Medium, In Science, the Lion Sleeps with the Lamb. Unlike Fuller, Totally Wreck delves into the nature of experimentation and failure, drawing connections between the scientific and the avant garde. In her review, Ariel Evans suggests that the gallery may no longer be the best place to interact with their “technospiritual” form of experimentation. At the new Dallas Contemporary, Alison Hearst explores the myriad junctures between humanity and the natural world in Regine Basha’s exhibition SEEDLINGS.
Leigh Brodie’s work in the artist’s space is perhaps the most scientific in spirit. Using computer visualization software to analyze decisive events, like a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Brodie attempts to “quantify the qualitative,” as Risa Puleo puts it. Her stills and videos offer an interesting counterpoint to Ron Regé’s comics, currently up at Domy. In her review, Katie Geha discusses how Regé moves past the subjective/objective debate to explore an enlightened utopian world where the mechanical joins hands with the mystical.
When it comes down to it, art and science are just ways for humans to understand the world we live in, as well as the world we’d like to live in. The topics these exhibitions riff on are ones that are interesting not just to art, but to a broader engagement with history, knowledge and the natural world, which is yet another thing that’s so fun about mixing art and science: it makes for a great conversation starter.
Allison Myers is pursuing her Ph.D. in art history at The University of Texas at Austin.