The Hunter – Gatherer Returns!

The merit of painting lies in the exactness of reproduction – Painting is a science, and all sciences are based on mathematics – Leonardo Da Vinci

The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo Da Vinci Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

“The Vitruvian Man”- Leonardo Da Vinci

I like to think that one indolent afternoon, man decided to start exploring the world known to him. He drew creatures he saw on the walls of his caves and imitated the sounds they made. Another languorous afternoon, tired of recording what he saw, he decided to experiment. He rubbed two stones together and created fire. He drew inspiration from nature – probably saw a smooth round boulder and created the wheel.

When inventing the wheel perhaps!

When inventing the wheel perhaps!

This evolution from one small step to another took thousands of years. His grunts became words, his words became language, his screams became music and his wheels became an automobile. He conquered and invented, created and destroyed and so on and so forth, until he came to be the overlord of all things on earth that he could fathom with the naked eye.

But man’s curiosity is insatiable, and since we became masters of the known, we became more and more drawn to all things abstract. These abstract ideas eventually became the corner stones of what guided our intellectual growth. I have written earlier about the advent of science, art and literature simultaneously, but the question we must ask is – what prompted this togetherness?

The Milky Way

The Milky Way

Man’s intrigue with the abstruse concept of infinity started when he looked up at the night sky. Pioneered by a few men like Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, over the last few decades, we have asked these questions more loudly and vociferously than ever before. The idea of exploring deep space and searching for the unknown, of understanding the concept of infinity has fired our imaginations time and again.

A similar transcendental idea surfaced in artistic circles around this time. Painting was no longer about perfect reproduction as Da Vinci believed. It was about exploring the unknown realms of giving color to a number or an emotion – Can the number “5” simply be red, or the number “3” simply be blue?

As it turns out, the answer is a resounding “Yes”! Research in neuroscience has shed light on a condition called “Synesthesia” – A condition 8 times more common in poets, artists and novelists than the common population. People with this condition, see numbers with their own hues. Could this imply that science can unlock the secrets to creativity?

Number 1 - Lavender Mist by Jackson Pollock National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

“Number 1” by Jackson Pollock

I believe that Jackson Pollock was gifted with this insight. He pioneered an age of absolute indefiniteness in art. While people were more attracted to the eccentric personality that he projected, his greatness lay in the understanding that painting didn’t necessarily need to have a tangible meaning. It was about simply observing something that made you think of a particular event, color or emotion. Definitions in his world were redundant.

When mankind is about to make a leap into the next stage of evolution, there is one section of the population that pioneers this surge way ahead of its time. This spawns imitation and moneymaking schemes at first, but ultimately this is what heralds us into a new era. Pollock was one such artist, who opened the doors to a new thought process.

Nautilus - The Fictional submarine captained by Nemo - Twenty Thousand Leagues under the sea by Jules Verne

“Nautilus” – The fictional submarine from”Twenty thousand leagues under the sea” by Jules Verne

The shift of literature occurred in much the same way as the shift in science and art. However, since words are easier to evolve than art or science, this shift started over a hundred years ago, with the man I consider to be the father of modern literature- Jules Verne. His ideas, and thoughts were fantastic from the get go. From “Twenty thousand leagues under the sea”, to “Journey to the center of the Earth” his work is not just fantasy; it is a revelation to both science and literature. An indication of scientific progress – if we care to see it. Jules Verne, in my mind, was the next Leonardo da Vinci – A man who thought eons ahead of his time. Since Jules Verne, a multitude of abstract ideas took hold of our race, ranging from Ayn Rand to Salman Rushdie.When Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland in 1865, or when J.M.Barrie introduced us to Peter Pan and Neverland in 1902, we were ushered into an era of boundless creative energy that was no longer restricted by observations.

Dewdrops on the tip of grass blades

Dewdrops on the tip of grass blades

Science, art, and literature walked hand in hand into this epoch, and without one, the other can never completely exist. A perfect example of their co-existence in harmony is a dewdrop on the tip of a blade of grass. Not only is this phenomenon a dream rendition for an artist, its scientific implications and gravity defying behavior, are astounding to behold.

Bacterial Aggregation - Kumar et Al., Applied Physics Letters- June 2011 Cover Art

Sample Bacterial Aggregation                                             Kumar et Al., Applied Physics Letters- June 2011

In one of his talks at Princeton University, Dr. Aloke Kumar (my arch nemesis) compared an image of a coagulation of bacteria in a fluid medium, to a Jackson Pollock painting. My first instinct was to raise hell, condemning this comparison of bacteria and Pollock!

Number 8 by jackson Pollock Neuberger Museum, Purchase(NY)

“Number 8” by Jackson Pollock        Neuberger Museum, Purchase(NY)

However, I had to admit that the correlation was a wonderful way to draw attention to the fact that science and art are meant to grow synchronously. They make each other grow and evolve. Inspire and perspire. Without one, the other would have an asymmetrical existence.

I conclude this, my most recondite article with a parting phrase that David Hare once wrote about Jackson Pollock:

“The man who deals with originality is desperately needed, but seldom wanted. For along with his promise of victory, he lets loose the shadows of chaos.”

As we pause to ponder through our peregrinations, we must leap and unleash chaos onto one-dimensional thinking and bridge the chasm between science and art – the two indispensible cornerstones of our existence.

Advertisements
Categories: Away from my pillow | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Post navigation

5 thoughts on “The Hunter – Gatherer Returns!

  1. Varun

    Brilliantly written!!!

  2. Funny how people connect with similar ideas through blogging. This is so well written. If I may share that your writing connects to my ideas about art and science. Though compartmentalized in the era of too much information, the arts and sciences are informing culture as we breathe, never mind speak or think. How many times have I heard lately the new expression “it’s baked into the DNA…” when people are talking about inanimate objects? Ha! Pretty funny from my perspective. But naturally and eventually all the ideas generated in the Arts and science intersect, and become fountains for creativity.
    Stay inspired.

    Many thanks

  3. The Michael

    The tie in between the randomness found in nature and a Pollock painting are not coincidence, nor do they represent any great link between science and art. Davinci and Verne? Very different subjects. Davinci used art as a way to demonstrate science. Verne was envisioning a world far into the future. Pollack liked the way he splayed stuff onto a canvas, thought it was a novel way of expression. Davinci is probably one of the four or five greatest individuals who has walked this earth (care to propose your 5?). Verne was a visionary like modern day Asimov or Roddenberry, though not in the class of Davinci. Pollack innovated his method, but really, splatter painting? Not world changing in the slightest other than invoking some crappy late 80’s fashion fads.

    My top 5 human beings of all time, excluding religion for which I would feel to include Jesus, Muhammed and Moses. Davinci, Socrates, Jefferson, Newton and Gandhi. Probably not giving enough credit to Eastern influence on the world, but a list worthy of a response…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: