The artist, of course, must have discovered the effects he could create through experimentation with various motions and types of paint, and perhaps some intuition and luck. But that, says Mahadevan, is the essence of science:
"We are all students of nature, and so was Pollock. Often, artists and artisans are far ahead, as they push boundaries in ways that are quite similar to, and yet different from, how scientists and engineers do the same."
Pollock's work and physicists' modern understanding of natural phenomena blur the line between art and science.
The authors wonder whether a quantitative understanding of fluid dynamics could inspire a new style of art that takes Pollock's medium a step further. Using a can of paint with a thin slit in one end, they suggest, an artist could paint with a film of pigment rather than a jet, creating new aesthetic effects.
"There are interesting quantitative questions everywhere in art," says Mahadevan. "One that currently fascinates me is inspired by the Chihuly exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, not only because of the beauty of the glass blowing forms, but also because it presents analogies to problems in biology and physics that span scales from the cell (in the context of cell shape) to the whole Earth (in the context of magma and lava flows)."
"Of course, another, much harder, problem," he adds, "is the notion of 'beauty' in art or science, which we all can recognize but find hard to quantify."
|Contact: Caroline Perry|