Extra Credit: My (Last Post and) Take on the Modes of Interdisciplinarity in Art and Techno-science by Ryan Andre Magsino

Extra Credit: My (Last Post and) Take on the Modes of Interdisciplinarity in Art and Techno-science by Ryan Andre Magsino

What better way to wrap the course than with none other than Michael Century, Professor of New Media and Music in the Arts Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Professor Century spoke of the Modes of Interdisciplinarity in Art and Techno-science. His first point of emphasis was on the historical horizons between the integration of science and technology.

Professor Michael Century (on the right)

Professor Michael Century (on the right)

According to Professor Century, there were two alternating modes of Interdisciplinarity, stability and threshold. Periods of stability referred to eras in which there were little to no contact between scientists and artists whereas periods of threshold were quite the opposite and even included hybrids among occupational spectrums. Such hybrids were discovered in the peak of the threshold periods. Two recent threshold periods would be the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution to present. In the peak of the Renaissance, intellectual scientists such as the likes of Leonardo da Vinci were highly acclaimed especially during their time. Nowadays we pay homage to the multitudes of genius and hardworking intellectual scientists in recent times such as Einstein. Meanwhile, the eras of stability were the periods of time before and after the threshold periods. Historically initiated by the rise of subjective morality and the unregulated (and sometimes unethical) advancement of science, periods of stability stunted were times in which the two cultures were split apart; and in most cases, the scientists were shunned from their passion.

Making sense of Professor Century’s Reasoning
Stability (Middle Ages) à Threshold (Renaissance) à Stability (Modern) à Threshold (Industrial Revolution) à ???

I find there to be only one issue according to this imposed trend. For one, these periods in time encompass several others. I presume this trend applies to the general overall picture, but what if we were to look even closer? Breaking down the overall time periods into smaller fractions, the trend would probably jump around from maybe going from one threshold period to 3 periods of stability. Now, I am no historic expert, but I am vaguely sure that the Modern Era was not merely an age of scientific ignorance.

schumpeter

Moving on, another essential point Century brought up were the “waves of innovation.” Taking a look at Schumpeter’s Waves Accelerate, we see an exponential rise in revolutionary technology and a decrease in time intervals between each wave. This would imply that we are currently at the peak or steadily declining in technological advancement/application. However, I again hold several problems with this piece of information. For one, the time interval from wave to wave predicts shorter and shorter lapses of time from revolutionary technology to revolutionary technology. Taking the graph even further, are we to presume that in the year 2090, scientific and technological revolutions will be a common anomalies every 3 or so years? Also, can’t we eliminate the down slope and simply transition into another revolutionary period?

Century did somewhat provide an answer to these questions when looking at the three ways of looking at people working in Interdisciplinary ways. The first is integrative – somewhat of a synthesis of the old and new information. I guess a simple modern example would be a Nintendo Wii’s ability to play both new games as well as games from its former system the Gamecube. Second we have service – one technique serves as a means to an end. This happens a lot when artists and scientists are trying to up-another. In this sense, the artist comes up with something possible yet challenging to engineer. In turn the scientist attempts to tackle the problem. This method loops and often keeps the respected fields either on one side or integrating them. Lastly, we come upon reflexive/ontological – challenging the very foundational principles of a field. Century offered multiple examples of artistic revolutions. In contrast, the sciences have seen much principle change in the last few centuries itself. One of my favorites would be rise of quantum mechanics in order to explain things on a smaller scale. This discovery completely revolutionized the way we look at look at matter.

Lastly, I would just like to leave this last note: Art and science may be on the opposite ends of the spectrum; but when light passes through the prism, both artists and scientists will shine together.

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