Part 1: Report from “Art as a Way of Knowing” Conference at Exploratorium March 28, 2013Posted by sandyclaus in Exploratorium, Science Museum Environment.
The “Art as a Way of Knowing” opening keynote was given by Lawrence Weschler, author of several works of “creative non-fiction,” including Seeing is Forgetting the Name of What One Sees: Conversations with Robert Irwin, and Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder. Weschler began by talking about the 18th Century, before “art was split off from science.” He named the year 1637 as the beginning of this fissure, marked by the publication of René Descartes Discourse on the Method which birthed the famous quotation, “I think, therefore I am”. Weschler discussed Francis Bacon, and the “Age of Wonder,” and presented paintings of Wunderkammers as “interdisciplinary expressions of the wonders of creation.” He also elaborated on how the study of anatomy was originally an artistic pursuit, not a medical one. Weschler summarized the distinctions between creative and scientific inquiry as such: “The artist uses himself as the measure” while the scientist “uses an external logic process.” Throughout his talk, Weschler deftly wove-in slides of Old Master paintings and quotations of poetry, with more recent quotes from the likes of James Baldwin: “Let us lay bare the questions that have been precluded by answers.” It was a very romantic kick-off.