The essay materials abstracted below present a look at Big Data and a review of the role the arts play in the evolution of the human species and the collective, cumulative project of assembling scientific and artistic knowledge: Part 1: how art and science are similar; Part 2: how their approach to “knowing” differs and how together they create knowledge; and Part 3: how these systems of knowing apply to the transformations activated by the digital revolution of the past 25 years. In concert, art and science might enable a collective human response sufficiently resilient to survive the natural and cultural challenges ahead.
These essays start with the observation that art and science are the primary, interlocked and essential components in the production of human knowledge: Art and science are distinct and intertwined, two elements of a single compound. By the conclusion of the essays it starts to emerge that art contains the sciences by virtue of being the unmoored, radical vanguard in collective thought. In this sense, science is suspended in the arts; science is the crystalline forms that appear in the matrix of art’s critical, complex and enigmatic thinking. The arts work one step beyond the collective conversation we call culture, and from that place just over the perimeter, the arts compassionately and sometimes jarringly bring us along to see the view from this new spot. Within these cultural horizons, science is doing the hard work of making what we encounter “real.” These essays present the arts and sciences as parallel yet intertwined, like two components of a composite organism, feeding off each other to sustain a growing and adapting life form bigger than either.