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The Arts and Science and Technology: Problems and Prospects Editorial Over some years now, Leonardo has responded kindly to my submissions, publishing various articles and, more recently, a series of columns, “Theoretical Perspectives on the Arts, Sciences and Technology”. Sothis seemsan appropriatemoment to return the favor, discussing thisjournalin a way that may, I hope, lead other readers to contribute to a productive debate about its aims and future goals. What has always been special about Leonardo, its strength as well as the source of some of its dilemmas, is the fact that it is the only well-known, widely distributed publication concerned exclusively with the interaction of art, science and technology. These particular concerns of Leonardo, and the opportunities it provides for artists and artwriters, may be understood by contrasting the way other journals deal with contemporary artworks and art history. The various commercial art journals-Artforum, Art in America and Arts are the best-known ones published in the United States-depend heavily upon advertisingby galleries,and sotheir articles and reviews areclosely concerned,unavoidably, with that art market [11.Writers in these journals, whether they be Marxists, poststructuralists orjust journalists, are involved, inescapably, in the promotion of the art they describe. And althoughsomeartists discussed in thesejournals have an interest in science, it is fair to say that few of them are concerned with either science or technology in anyserious way. The art history journals, such as the Art Bulletin, Burlington Magazine and Art History, on the other hand, are essentially academic publications, concerned with discussing old masters and early modernist art, using a methodology that by now is familiar. Art criticism and art history are well-established enterprises, and so anyone who wishes to be a critic or historian of art has available a range of role models. The reason such role models are important is that most writers master their craft by imitating others;just as an artist usually begins by working in the style of her teacher, soa writer firstwrites in the manner of his mentors. What is inherently problematic about Leonardo,then, isthat neither thecommercialjournals nor the art history magazines provide any model for the study of the interaction of art, science and technology. That interaction is studied, it is true, by some psychologists, but since their concerns are distantfrom those of artists, it is not easy to find a vocabulary here. Rudolf Arnheim and Sir Ernst Gombrich have contributed a great deal to the study of art, but their work is not easy to emulate, and there are, to my knowledge, few younger art historians who are involved in a serious way with the study of science or who have made comparable contributions to such study. Some experimental psychologistshave taken an interest in art, but thus far their work has had relatively little influence, for better or worse, on the practice of most art historians. As for artists themselves, it is hard for me to evaluate their concerns with technology. I am writing this editorial on a computer; the availability of such powerful, relatively inexpensive machines has already dramatically changed the way scholarly manuscripts are prepared. Revisions are almost effortless, the final draft can be letter-perfect and editing no longer involves retyping. By contrast,it is genuinely unclear to me whether any art using computers is truly significant. The wider public is affected by the visual imagery of television and the movies; by comparison,artists concerned with new technologies reach only a small audience. Of course, the significance of art is not measured by the size of its audience, for, in the past, important new work has often been appreciated by only a few viewers. My aim is not to make an ungracious comment on the work of many sincere artists but to develop an historical perspectiveon their art. At sometimes in the past-the quattrocentodiscovery of perspective is the best example-the interaction of art and science was of importance for both artists and scientists. Today, as far as I canjudge, research in science and technology proceeds without much reference to artists’ concerns; and thus far the attempts to use modern technology to create innovative artworks have had only a limited impact. All...


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