March 17, 2018
Finding the right Medium: The Relationship Between Art and Science
What does an Ideal relationship look like? How is the relationship between art and science defined? These are questions that have drawn many answers, but few have actually dissected the relationship like Yo-Yo Ma and Jonah Lehrer. Yo-Yo Ma is a very distinguished cellist and songwriter who also wrote “Necessary Edges: Arts, Empathy, and Education”. Ma has an artists mind, he is always looking to create and better himself through the application of art. In the essay, Ma considers the role of arts in the world, arguing that “the elements of empathy provided by artistic endeavors are essential to the kind of balanced thinking needed today”. Whereas Jonah Lehrer looks into the human mind and how artists can benefit science and the way we conclude scientific hypotheses, “We need to find a place for the artist within the experimental process”. I think it is essential for us as a human race not to divide arts and sciences, especially with technology today advancing at a rapid rate we cannot lose our artistic touch that brings so much creativity and joy into the world. I also believe that we need to hold onto scientific knowledge, as that has been proven to be correct since the beginning of time. The Ideal relationship between art and science should not be bound, but to conclude one without the others input shows the lack of understanding of how the human mind functions.
The educational shift from STEM to STEAM that Yo-Yo Ma emphasizes shows the importance of art being in a students everyday curriculum. As a student, I would hate to take more classes than I am already required to take, but at the same time I realize Importance of art. If I took an art class every two days I most likely will not enjoy, but I know that it would be beneficial to my brain, and It would help me wrap my brain around other concepts in other classes I take. Yo-Yo Ma believes that hyper-competitive world economy we reside around is why many of our schools are on STEM (Science, Technology, English, and Math). Ma believes we need to “add empathetic reasoning of the arts to the mix” and that “The values behind arts integration-collaboration, flexible thinking, and disciplined imagination lead to the capacity to innovate” (Ma 1). I know I and a lot of other students would benefit from this because of our straightforward way of thinking which was molded by STEM. In schools especially there is a hard bias for STEM and there is a slant away from the arts. The STEAM model would benefit students like me who are not necessarily drawn to the arts, so adding that in our curriculum would open up a new way of thinking.
Lehrer also incorporates the STEAM model when talking about how arts can have an effect on scientific methods. Lehrer’s essay “The future of science…Is Art?” references the history of science and what art has done or is going to do in the future to benefit science. He believes that science should not be concluded without some sort of artistic touch on the subject. “Science rightfully adheres to a strict methodology, relying on experimental data and testability, but this method could benefit from an additional set of inputs. The cultural hypotheses of artists can inspire the questions that stimulate important new scientific answers” (Lehrer 3). This relates back to the STEAM model and the integration of the arts and other inputs into modern day science. I like that Lehrer wants art to be integrated more into science, but at some point science is science and the way we use it has worked for many many years. The ideal relationship between art and science cannot be forced, as each field has worked without each other for the most part. When science needs an artistic input, it should be integrated, but science and art cannot always coincide.
Mixing artistic Insight with hard science can be Influential to some, but It could also be dangerous for many. The world we live in today continues to Innovate greatly in the field of science. Discoveries once never thought possible are being made every single day, and lives are being saved every single day because of the exposure science has gained. Throughout “Necessary Edges: Arts, Empathy, and Education” Yo-Yo Ma continues his discussion on equilibrium, he states that it “Is what all life forms are seeking in order to survive” and he relates equilibrium to the STEAM model. I agree with his statement about equilibrium, but there is a dangerous line that cannot be crossed between art and science. The two should be somewhat integrated, but when artistic inputs are challenging proven scientific theories, we have a problem. Equilibrium is what as humans we should all strive for, to be equal in mind and body, and to be equal “in that brain space between life and death”.
Equilibrium can also be shown as a way we accept new thought, and a way we differ from our old inflexible ideology. With the ever changing society we live in today comes a boat load of people challenging outdated thought with often labeled “edgy” fresh ideals. Society usually looks away from these people because society hates change. They think if something has worked for all of this time, why change it? “Equilibrium occurs when the information from the edges is available at the core. Only when those meridians or pathways that connect the edges to the middle are open will a life-form survive, and even prosper” (Ma 260). I believe what Yo-Yo Ma is saying here can be connected to the human brain. The information from the “edges” is from people who are always trying out new thought, and the values we have at the core are the values we have believed in and the values society has believed in for generations. When these connect or if they connect is when we see people prosper, when they can accept “edgy” ideas from the outside, and bring them into their core is when we see people succeed. Yo-Yo Ma’s argument here about equilibrium is related to the STEAM model and how are school systems can accept “edgy” artistic insights into the everyday school curriculum.
Lehrer’s argument about science involving artistic input shows the opposite of what mainstream science thinks of art. There has always been a fine line between right and wrong involving science, It is either proven or not proven and that is how it should be. However, science should not always push away artistic insights from the scientific process because the process is long and never ending. “The struggle for scientific truth is long and hard and never ending. We want to get an answer to our deepest questions-the questions of who we are and what everything is- we will need to draw from both science and art, so that each completes the other” (Lehrer 6). Lehrer believes that the scientific process is never ending and he suggests that art draws answers to some of the most important scientific questions that an equation or graph cannot answer.
The argument that arts should be added to the STEM model is fair because art can help people relieve their pain. Art is used as a coping mechanism, people put on a certain song or work on a piece of art to fight their pain and sorrow. Yo-YO Ma also considers art as an escape, a reality that is made by dreamers that helps civilization forget whatever it is that is haunting them. “The arts help us cope with these issues by engaging, not avoiding, the deep emotions of intimate loss involved and retelling over and over again the story of the human condition and its limits” (Ma 2). I understand the point Ma is making here, because when I’m having a rough day I turn to music and the arts to help me get out of the funk I am in. The demons that everyone deals with should not be answered with scientific experiments and results, it should be dealt with by an uplifting song or a blank canvas.
Yo-Yo Ma and Jonah Lehrer believe there has to be some sort of correlation between art and science, especially in our school systems, and the way we conclude scientific processes. There is no question that art can benefit the sciences, but I believe we cannot just forget the fact that science is proven. I do however think that art is an essential piece of society, and it should be involved in science to an a certain extent. Art should be apart of the conversation of science because “artists can inspire the questions that stimulate important new scientific answers”
Lehrer, Jonah. “Seed Magazineabout.” The Future of Science…Is Art? § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM, seedmagazine.com/content/article/the_future_of_science_is_art/.
Ma, Yo-Yo. “Yo-Yo Ma: Behind the Cello.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Jan. 2015, www.huffingtonpost.com/yoyo-ma/behind-the-cello_b_4603748.html.