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A note on the issue: The confluence of art and science

A number of artists across the country have started using science as the basis for their art

Jane Tingley’s installation ‘Foresta Inclusive’
Jane Tingley’s installation ‘Foresta Inclusive’

The trees at the new Science Gallery Bengaluru wear backpacks, lumpy little triangles of brown strapped to their trunks. I assumed it was a new-fangled gardening tool to send nutrients directly into weakened trees, but inside the gallery, standing in front of an interactive installation by artist Jane Tingley, I realised the little backpacks housed sensors that tracked the way the trees react to wind, carbon dioxide in the air, sunshine, rain, sound and ambient light. The data morphs and pulsates with vitality, illustrating the secret life of the trees. 

Also read: Chitresh Das: A purist yet a contemporary artist

Every exhibit in the show, CARBON, makes one contemplate the interconnectedness of science, art and everyday life. Some installations are serious, others playful but each links scientific concepts to beauty, philosophy, conflict, justice, consumption, and every other aspect of living.

About 100 years ago, Albert Einstein said that the greatest scientists are artists as well, but in India, the distinction between science and art remains particularly stark. We’re separated into different streams at the age of 15, as if the two cannot necessarily coexist. Fortunately, a number of artists across the country have started pushing back against this presumption and are using science as the basis for their art, as our cover story details this week. The result is installations and works that help us make sense of the world in which we live, and ask questions about everything from the purpose of being human to problems of excessive fossil fuel use. Scientists and artists share a fundamental desire to reflect, explore and explain what they see around them, and their creative interpretations make it easier for us to navigate the world.

Indian artists and gallerists are also making their way to Art Basel Hong Kong this week, showcasing work of emerging and established artists whose work addresses issues of belonging, borders and interconnectedness. Another story takes a look at the path that independent comics artists are forging for themselves by drawing from history and mythology to inspire their stories, and experimenting with self-publishing. We have a piece about a perfumer trying to add scent to classical music, and plenty of other recommendations for how to spend your weekend.

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Also read: Wonder and wisdom: When art and science meet

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