One only needs to think about Leonardo da Vinci to recall the age-old link between art and science. And looking back over recent decades, particularly since the turn of the century, shows us that, beyond the results or eventual tensions, this link has made it possible to open up new paths, for both artistic creation and scientific research. After a great deal of different processes, laboratories, evidence, results and research, the question still remains: does the act of discovering, inventing and imagining require unrelated or highly similar cerebral capacities?
These are the issues that have led Sir Chris Lewellyn Smith to talk with Carl Edward Schoonover in a discussion moderated by Professor Orfeu Bertolami. Schoonover is the author of Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century and co-founder of NeuWrite, a collaborative group of scientists, writers and other persons interested in the use of images in scientific communication. The third participant is Jem Finer (1955, United Kingdom), musician, founder of The Pogues, a photographer and film-maker for whom uniting art and science is the raw material for a project that is essentially a fusion of the two areas of enquiry (for which he has been awarded the prestigious New Music Prize from the PRS for Music Foundation). The manner in which the concerns of artistic practice interconnect with those of scientific research are highlighted in Finer’s Longplayer, a musical composition that he began in 2000 and which is designed to last for a millennium and aims to address our understanding of the fluidity and expansiveness of time, and that should also be seen as an artificial form of life.