There seems to be an uptick in concern about the separation of art and science and in efforts to join them in some fashion. Though I must say it’s very difficult to assess this sort of cultural trend, and in pessimistic moments I sometimes wonder if anyone knows or cares much about either. At any rate, I’ve come across a recent book that brings together contributions by artists and scientists of various stripes: Findings on Ice, first in a series envisioned by the PARS Foundation of Amsterdam. It doesn’t seem to have made much of a splash so far; I’ve found no reviews or mentions online, except for publishers’ blurbs.

Michaela Frühwirth, Obstruction_1, detail

For me the loveliest find was the work of Michaela Frühwirth, reminiscent of the detailed drawings of Vija Celmins, though abstract in nature. If we relate it to the topic at hand, the picture here could be seen as a jumbled ice field or a micrograph of dislocation lines in an ice crystal. Other artists represent not only from the usual visual arts, but dance, music, jewelry design, writing, architecture, and even cooking.

With roughly 50 contributors, this collection is not surprisingly uneven. That goes for the editors, as well, who have done interesting things with an interesting concept, but also write things like:

This book is a map
This book is not a map
This is a book about ice
This is not a book about ice

And they seem to have missed the whole point of broader thinking when they write in the introduction that “…ice is a substance that holds no fossils.” Yes, I know what they mean, but couldn’t they have thought in terms of of a million years of fossil air telling about our past climate, of ice cap troves of lunar and Martian meteorites, of frozen structural patterns that record the passages of a glacial river, as sinuous as any belly dancer?

Perhaps the thing I missed most was any substantive interactions or collaborations between scientists and artists. I believe the foundation sponsors meetings and exhibits where such discussions could take place. The book is apparently meant as an inspiration for such cross-pollination, but it would be nice to have some examples for those who can’t attend any events.

So do you have any good examples of art and science interacting? Mine is Bioglyphs: