Is there a natural divide between the arts and sciences? Many view C.P. Snow’s infamous book The Two Cultures as a warning of the emerging cultural split across modern society. In reality, Snow believed that an art-science divide was fundamentally unnatural and was caused by society’s inability to accommodate its rapid march toward specialization. In this talk, University of Oregon physicist and fractals expert Richard Taylor will use his experiences of working across art and science to demonstrate that shared interests can defeat divides. The past twenty-five years have seen a remarkable revolution in the way scientists study nature’s scenery, which has brought scientific inquiry and artistic views of nature closer together. At the heart of this revolution lies the discovery of intricate patterns called fractals. Dramatically referred to as ‘the fingerprint of life’, fractals have been shown to be the basic building block of many of nature’s patterns, ranging from clouds, trees and mountains through to our brains, blood vessels and lungs. Taylor will discuss biomimicry – the concept of learning from nature’s patterns and using them in artificial systems such as art works (from da Vinci to Escher to Jackson Pollock) and scientific devices (cell phones, retinal implants and future computers). Through his engaging talk, Taylor will propose that the act of creativity itself follows a natural process – one shared by both artists and scientists.

Presented as part of Anna Craycroft’s C’mon Language project and the TBA:13 Festival. For more details on weekly events, visiting artists and scholars, and other related events, please visit the C’mon Language event page below.