I just finished reading Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time & Light by Leonard Slain and I must say - mind blown. Now I read some reviews of this book that have a problem with him not being an artist or a physicist and that he is twisting things around to fit his context. I mean just because he is finding a comparison doesn't mean it's true. He's the first to say that he doesn't believe that the artists necessarily had any awareness that what they were doing may have been scientific.
Chapter 1 starts out with a quote from James Baldwin - The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers.
For me making art is about trying to find a connection to why I am here in the first place. I feel like there is something deep inside of me that knows the answer and that answer can emerge in my art because there are no words for it. The idea is that someone else will recognize that.
Shlain talks about when we learn language/abstract-thinking that the word/symbol takes the place of the image. "When we reflect, ruminate, reminisce, muse, and imagine, generally we revert to the visual mode... ...we forget that to learn something radically new, we need first to imagine it" (p18). We forget how important and essential it is to be able to have time to daydream.
This leads to the idea of a critical mass of people coming to a consensus about how the world works and when these ideas are no longer questioned they become bedrock truths. These things you just believe because you always believed them and never think that there is a need to question them (unless of course you grew up in the 60's). That blows my mind a little bit, just because we believe that something is true, doesn't mean it was always thought about that way or that it always will be. This may date me little, but when I was in elementary school I remember learning about Pangea. It was 'one' of the 'theories' about the continents 'possibly' having all been joined together at one time. I found that really interesting as a kid and it stuck in my mind. Now I find out that it is no longer a theory, but a fact and I have a very difficult time accepting that. One of my bedrock truths has been changed. It freaks me out a little. Maybe because now it has me wondering what else I learned was wrong. Of course, this leads me to the 70's and my brother introducing me to Firesign Theater's album 'Everything You Know is Wrong.' I don't remember any of the skits from the album (after all it was the 70's - take that as you may) but that title gave me something to think about.
I liked this: "What makes any set of bedrock truths slippery is that every age and every culture defines this confirmation in its own way. When the time comes to change a paradigm–to renounce one bedrock truth and adopt another–the artist and physicist are most likely to be in the forefront" (p18). The idea of being able to imagine or think about something in another way is the beginning of changing these truths.
Ok, so when reading this book, I could only read about 3 or 4 pages at a time, so that's all I'm going to do for right now! Let me know what you think about these ideas. But before you do, take a minute to reflect or perhaps daydream a little about it!