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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: confrontation between art and technology

Ianni, Lawrence A.
[Editorial comment: science and art as forms of communication: an inquiry into the place of art in a technologically-oriented society],   pp. [164]-175 PDF (13.2 MB)

Page 175

so substantially true must it be that the
essential validity would remain
intact even if details were clarified
and corrected. Where art fails at this, it
loses its impact. Recently it was reported
that, on viewing a production of his play
The Chairs, Eugene lonesco vigorously
criticized the director for making a comedy
of his tragedy. The director responded
that he need only come on successive
nights to see exactly the opposite audience
reaction, where the comedy would
be turned back into a tragedy. I submit
that the unreliability that such a work
has in communicating so that the
reaction of the audiences runs to such
diametrically opposite extremes reveals
a failure in communication on the part of
the work. Durable art can not speak
exactly and can not speak exactly the
same thing to any two people, but
it must speak in a way that the
communication has reliable similarity
for the vast majority of its recipients.
Any work that does not achieve this
reliability in communication has
limited value, no matter how interesting
or momentarily fascinating it
may prove to be.
Art and science, therefore, do not talk
about different things nor do they appeal
1. W. Ehrenberg, "Maxwell's Demon," Scientific
American Vol. 217, No. 5. (November, 1967) pp.
103-110. This is a most helpful article because
it gives Maxwell's own text as well as a treatment
of the subsequent considerations of the problems
by other physicists.
2. Jagiit Singh, Great Ideas in Information Theory,
Language, and Cybernetics (New York: Dover,
1966), P. 77.
to different facets of man's nature.
They talk to him in different ways about
the same things. Each of the ways has its
own strengths. For this reason,
neither is inherently inferior
or superior to the other. Once we
stop dichotomizing the areas of concern
of art and science, the
compartmentalizing of modern society
into two irreconcilable camps happily
disappears, and man stands before us
once again more fully prepared to
cope with the exigencies of existence
because he can bring both art and science
to bear on the problems of being.
We can help our thinking about the
parts that art and science play in man's
life by not thinking of them as
two tools for man to use but rather
as parts of the same tool. Art and science
together are man's third hand.
Just as the proficiency of his other
two hands was immeasurably increased
by the development of the thumb to work
opposite to and in accord with the fingers,
similarly art is the thumb and science
the fingers of man's third hand, which
he can use to proceed along the next
segment of his great journey in the way
that the use of his other two hands has
brought him to this point.
3. Robert Frost, Selected Poems of Robert Frost (New
York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963),
pp. 163-166.
4. Clement V. Durell, Readable Relativity (New York:
Harper and Bros.), p. 134.
5. John von Neumann, The Computer and the Brain,
(New Haven: Yale, 1963), pp. 77-79.

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