Satellite of Love
What's wrong here is his assertion that this is some new development and his position that it's a contest.
But let's back up. Jones starts off by gorging himself on some low-hanging fruit:
[O]n Mars, Nasa's Curiosity rover has begun its mission to determine – metre by metre, rock by rock – whether the red planet was once able to support life. This new mission comes days after Curiosity captured a partial solar eclipse on Mars as its small moon Phobos crossed the face of the sun, appearing to take a tiny bite out of it.Then Jones goes even further down the path of pitting science against art:
And in the art world … well, let's see.
It has been announced that Damien Hirst got record attendances for his Tate Modern retrospective, while drawings by Andy Warhol are among works to be exhibited at the inaugural Frieze Masters art fair next month. Somehow, these bits of art news do not seem as thrilling as discovering the secrets of other planets, or the once-unfathomable oceans.
It is science that now provides the most beautiful and provocative images of our world – not to mention other worlds. It is hard to name an image made by an artist in the last two decades that is as fascinating or memorable as, say, the Hubble telescope's pictures of the Eagle Nebula or the Whirlpool Galaxy.And, finally, he calls on Leo to go in for the death blow:
Once, art and science truly worked as equals – in the researches of Leonardo da Vinci, for instance. In the 21st century, art rarely rivals the capacity for wonder that modern science displays in such dazzling abundance.OK, so why do I think he got it wrong. Why do I think he's forcing an "us vs. them" narrative, when in reality the relationship is anything but contentious. First there's history. Images like the one below, from nearly half a century ago, were even then viewed as serious challenges to contemporary art:
And yet, rather than leaving artists dumbstruck by its profundity, space travel inspired countless new works and continues to today. From its huge influence on pop culture to its continual presence in the dialog of contemporary art (see, Cincinnati's Contemporary Art Center 2008 exhibition "Space is the Place" which featured "artists’ inventive response to space-age potential provides a back-to-the-future exploration of space travel's endless possibilities" and a show up at the New Museum through this coming Sunday called "Pictures from the Moon" described as "a focused selection of holograms from the 1960s to the present by several leading, contemporary artists."), art and science have continually and quite happily fed off each other for quite some time.
Yes, you might think, art feeds off science, but what about the other way around?
What Jones doesn't note in his match-up is how science is very aware of the importance of the way contemporary artists envision solutions to problems. Indeed, worldwide there are dozens of companies who invite artists to collaborate with their scientists:
Artist in Residence [A] list of organizations that offer opportunities for artists to collaborate with scientists, technologists, or professionals in business or industry. Many are experimental laboratories where artists collaborate with scientists. Several are university based. Many are in countries other than the US.One in particular, in the UK no less, The Arts Catalyst, not only summarizes nicely through their name how art serves the sciences, but also nicely phrases what they get out of it :
The Arts Catalyst commissions art that experimentally and critically engages with science. We produce provocative, playful, risk-taking projects to spark dynamic conversations about our changing world.Clearly scientists are very interested in artists' ability to expand minds and inspire awe.
Moreover, though, when has art ever created something as fascinating or memorable as what we can find in nature? What Jones is celebrating in his post are images that simply show us another view on the universe that has been right there, just unseen by us.
And while yes, that's exhilarating, what Jones is feeling is no different from how humans felt the first time they viewed the ocean or an erupting volcano or a bacteria via a microscope. The Hubble telescope images are beautiful and inspiring but because they are of the real universe and they are new to us.
Art's role is to help us make sense of the universe, not to replace it. It's not a battle.