Intriguing, especially for aficionados of the avant-garde.

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COLLIDING WORLDS

HOW CUTTING-EDGE SCIENCE IS REDEFINING CONTEMPORARY ART

Miller (Emeritus, History and Philosophy of Science/Univ. Coll. London; Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung, 2009, etc.) suggests that we are “witnessing the birth…[of] a third culture in which art, science, and technology will fuse.”

As the author explains in this review of current trends in avant-garde art, he does not mean this to be taken metaphorically. He believes there to be an actual convergence that extends beyond the use of animation and holography in film. In the future, he writes, “art, science, and technology as we know them today will disappear, fused into a third culture—leaving the door open for the next, as yet unimaginable, avant-garde.” The possibilities inherent in digital technology are one part of the story of how advances in technology can be transformative, but the author focuses on the fusion of cutting-edge science and art to form a new discipline, “artsci.” A good example is the collaboration of artists and scientists at CERN, a collaboration organized in 1997 by Ken McMullen, a professor at the London Institute (an umbrella organization of area art schools.) This led to a London exhibition called “Signatures of the Invisible,” which included a depiction of a particle accelerator using plaster and plastic bags from a supermarket, and another “creat[ing] three-dimensional illusions which seem to move as you walk in front of them” to illustrate paradoxes rooted in perceptions. Miller introduces readers to artistic works that translate sound into light displays and a proposal for bioengineered bones for use in displays and biojewelry. The author suggests that shocking as some of these examples may seem, so too were the cubist paintings of Picasso and the atonal music of John Cage before becoming mainstream.

Intriguing, especially for aficionados of the avant-garde.

Pub Date: June 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-393-08336-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

HOW TO BE AN ARTIST

A noted critic advises us to dance to the music of art.

Senior art critic at New York Magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, Saltz (Seeing Out Louder, 2009, etc.) became a writer only after a decadeslong battle with “demons who preached defeat.” Hoping to spare others the struggle that he experienced, he offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, “How can I be an artist?” and who “take that leap of faith to rise above the cacophony of external messages and internal fears.” In a slim volume profusely illustrated with works by a wide range of artists, Saltz encourages readers to think, work, and see like an artist. He urges would-be artists to hone their power of perception: “Looking hard isn’t just about looking long; it’s about allowing yourself to be rapt.” Looking hard yields rich sources of visual interest and also illuminates “the mysteries of your taste and eye.” The author urges artists to work consistently and early, “within the first two hours of the day,” before “the pesky demons of daily life” exert their negative influence. Thoughtful exercises underscore his assertions. To get readers thinking about genre and convention, for example, Saltz presents illustrations of nudes by artists including Goya, Matisse, Florine Stettheimer, and Manet. “Forget the subject matter,” he writes, “what is each of these paintings actually saying?” One exercise instructs readers to make a simple drawing and then remake it in an entirely different style: Egyptian, Chinese ink-drawing, cave painting, and the styles of other artists, like Keith Haring and Georgia O’Keeffe. Freely experiment with “different sizes, tools, materials, subjects, anything,” he writes. “Don’t resist something if you’re afraid it’s taking you far afield of your usual direction. That’s the wild animal in you, feeding.” Although much of his advice is pertinent to amateur artists, Saltz also rings in on how to navigate the art world, compose an artist’s statement, deal with rejection, find a community of artists, and beat back demons. Above all, he advises, “Work, Work, Work.”

A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08646-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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