Art and science have often been perceived in a general sense as two antithetical disciplines. Art is seen as unrepeatable, an emotional and passionate work that only a few talented, hypersensitive people can undertake. Science, on the other hand, is treated as a cold, rational domain that demands hard work and technical skill.
However, what’s frequently missed in these discussions is that art and science aren’t two sides of a struggle between heart and brain. There is no real dichotomy between artistic and scientific practices, mostly because they arise from the same matrix: creativity. They have the same urgency: creating new tools and new images to interpret the world better to improve it.
Art and science co-exist on the same conceptual framework, and they can also proceed through similar processes. After starting with an epiphany or another source of inspiration, ideas in both fields require analysis, experimentation, and research to yield concrete results. Furthermore, these subjects are open to the possibility of failure, an eventuality that causes many leading artists and scientists to always be on edge, driven by energetic restlessness.
This push for innovation is particularly evident in the fascinating branch of science: technology. Technology can provide solutions and create demand in new sectors and invent products to satisfy emerging needs.
MDS Technical Arts understands the immense amount of effort invested into art and technology artifacts. We believe in the possibility of a fruitful collaboration between these two fields, creating original, hypermodern, digital works of art. We support a two-fold and reciprocal relationship: Art helps technology create aesthetic interfaces while technology provides artists with useful tools to explore new techniques.
The value of this synergistic relationship is evident to modern artists, but the blending of art and science began in the 20th century. In this article, we will introduce three pioneers of digital art who questioned human limits in their craft and tried to overcome these boundaries through scientific exploration.
- Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) is an artists’ collective that created a bond between artists and engineers in the 1960s. They started organizing events and conferences where creatives could meet and discuss in detail instead of focusing on theoretical, abstract, or remote projects. Together, they gave birth to 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, a series of art performances that involved notable engineers from Bell Laboratories, among others. It was the first time that advanced technologies like video projection, wireless sound transmission, sonar, and electrical amplifiers were employed for explicit artistic purposes. This pioneering experimentation challenged the role (and the reputation) of technology in the elitist art world.
- AARON by Harold Cohen – Cohen was a British-born artist who moved to California in 1968 to work at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Stanford University. There, he started thinking about computer drawing and designed AARON, a computer program written to automatically create artwork. It first produced abstract shapes that became more complex and fully formed in the 1970s. The images were then hand-colored by the artist, who established a connection between hand-crafting and technological creation. Cohen’s pioneerism is surprisingly revolutionary because it anticipated the current experiments into computational creativity. His work paved the way to the first reflections on human and artificial creativity.
- The First Collaborative Sentence by Douglas Davis is definitely a milestone in the digital art and internet era. Created in 1994, it is a web-based project that allows visitors and users to leave a contribution, creating an infinite collective sentence that is still available online and maintained by Whitney Museum. It served as a sort of forerunner for blogs and social media posts while also introducing open-source environments where anyone can contribute to the collective base of knowledge.
But have you ever stopped to think that digital artwork needs to be restored, too? For example, the original website created by Douglas Davis has been duplicated in a new, updated, accessible version. Technical issues like outdated code, lost files, broken links, and old formats had made the historical version unreadable. This tells us something as well: Internet products are subject to decay and need to be periodically restored, just like any other ancient artifact.
That’s why, in this ephemeral world of code, it’s essential to secure the help of an expert team. MDS guarantees up-to-date websites and the use of the latest cutting-edge technology. Our customer-centric services aren’t merely appealing from an artistic point of view; they are also technically robust. We draw our inspiration from the minds of these pioneering artists in order to stay on the hunt for both new technologies and new ways to exploit them.