Category Archives: Art

Einstein’s Credo

In 1932 Albert Einstein wrote and recorded a few short paragraphs that he called ‘My Credo’ that summarize quite beautifully and succinctly his thoughts on “the contemplation and exploration of objective and timeless things”, his “passion for social justice”, and the role of mystery in the pursuit of art and science.

The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as of all serious endeavour in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all there is.

Find the rest of it here (as well as the original audio recording in German).

The Art of Making

Here’s one example from an interesting set of videos on Vimeo called ‘The Art of Making’. From the group Deep Green Sea, whose aim is to ‘communicate meaningful ideas that can excite, provoke, and educate’, the videos give an in-depth look at the science and skill behind the making of various objects.

The ‘Art of Making’ series aspires to display and highlight people who go against the spirit of today’s pessimism and desperation. They dare to dream and create with zeal and imagination. Armed with passion for knowledge and emotion, they attempt to combine the precision of science with the elegance and resourcefulness of art.

The videos are short and sweet, employing beautiful soundtracks and some impressive editing. Besides carpentry, they also cover the making of a dress and a guitar. Makes me feel like I should go create something.

Photos of NIF by Jake Stangel

Jake Stangel - NIF

Here are a NIF-ty* bunch of photos by Jake Stangel of the National Ignition Facility and the people who work there. The facility is an experiment built to explore the science behind inertial confinement fusion, one of the two pathways towards the development of net-gain fusion energy (the other approach being magnetic confinement fusion). It’s a beautiful set of photographs that shows some of the workings behind-the-scenes of an experiment that big.

 

*I make no apologies for bad puns.

A musical presentation of data

It’s interesting to see the different ways people think of to communicate scientific findings. Daniel Crawford, a cellist and student at the University of Minnesota, has put together a musical interpretation of global climate data. In the piece he performs temperature readings from 1880 to 2012, each year represented as a note with the pitch of the note dictated by that year’s global average temperature (relative to a baseline).

From a musical point of view it’s a very simple piece, but from a scientific point of view it’s a very new and intriguing way to think about data. Makes one wonder if the classic method of bar graphs and line charts is really the most effective way to convey information.

Forging the Future with the Tip of the Pen

[Video via BOOOOOOOM!]

The use of technology is something that to a large extent distinguishes homo sapiens from the rest of the animal kingdom and defines the development of human history. From rudimentary stone axes and knives in the pre-civilization era to smartphones and space shuttles in modern times, the evolution of our technology mirrors the development of our society and culture. But where are the proper boundaries between the use of new technology and the development of old skills? It’s not an easy question to answer. After all, old skills and tools were once new skills and tools – that is the nature of development. There is a difference, though, in that the pace of change now is faster than it has ever been, and it can be difficult to judge whether some new piece of technology makes our lives better or not. What technology constitutes a beneficial improvement depends on how you define improvement. In a constantly accelerating world, progress often means improvements in speed, cost, and efficiency. In this world, what place does the development of an outdated skill have?

Jake Weidmann is a master penman, a title that takes years to achieve and is held by only about a dozen people in the world. In an age of design software and font proliferation, the art of calligraphy has all but died out. How does Weidmann view the development of a archaic craft that is in almost every respect obsolete? In his words:

If we abdicate everything to the machines that we create then what we are doing is we’re creating a sterile world that is void of human influence. And so if we do that especially with something that is as deeply personal as handwriting is then I feel that we’re missing out a lot on each other. We’re missing out on that connection that we have with one another.

What purpose does this have? The purpose lies not so much in any finished product, but in the act of creation itself, and the practice of the craft is a personal pursuit.

i believe that we are all created in the image of God, in that we don’t only bear His image in the way that we think, the way that we act, the emotions that we have, but in our desire to create. i believe that the things that God impresses upon us, and that the things that we find we are passionate about, He was first passionate about. So i see this passion in me to create is the most intimate way that i know God.

Some more of Weidmann’s thoughts can be found in an interview here.

Because we live in a modern world of technology, the fact that I am doing everything by hand is almost a foreign concept. I get inquiries from other designers who ask me what programs I use to create my pieces, and especially my calligraphy. While I am flattered that people perceive my accuracy on level with a computer, I need to do a better job of explaining the “human factor” in my art. I am not a minimalist and I do not have a personal vendetta against technology, but I have found that the hand is still the greatest romancer of the eye. Though the average person would not be able to pick out the imperfections within a well-executed piece of art or calligraphy, the eye recognizes it as a result of the hand and is attracted to what they both have in common: the human element.

We live in a culture of the quick and easy and it has made us impatient and lazy. When you commit to something that takes work and see it through to the end, it will develop you as much as you develop it. Second, invest in art — I am not just suggesting my art, but any art that you like. We are a society that looks at everything and beholds nothing. Good art is something to behold and will bring you a sense of peace and stillness in a world in constant motion.