Art and Science: Launching in 10, 9, 8 ......

The world is full of interesting people. For almost 15 years I’ve been interviewing artists and finding out about creative process, inspiration and perseverance in that line of work.

I’m not bored.
But I am ready something a little different.

For over a decade I’ve been obsessed with trying to understand the goings-on in the world of theoretical physics, specifically in cosmology and astrophysics. And more tentatively branching out into neuroscience and evolution.

Blue Ceiling dance in Dead Reckoning. Sky Fairchild-Waller, Peter Quanz, Elke Schroeder and Lucy Rupert. (Photo by Omer Yukseker)

I’ve made several works of choreography with these investigations as their undercurrents and gushing waves. I’ve tried to surf through the embodiment possible in dance: the third man factor, the thought experiments of Einstein, the compulsive brains of solo pilots, the interdependence and adaptations of ecosystems, the uglier animal instincts that are seeded within “civilized” humans.

My next choreographic project for my company Blue Ceiling dance is an exploration of light: how it behaves in space and in experimental conditions, how the words scientists have used for light are as utterly human as our bodies: wave and particle, measuring duration and distance, creative and destructive, constant duality and simultaneity.

Blue Ceiling dance in rehearsal for 8 minutes 17 seconds. Kaitlin Standeven, Elke Schroeder and Lucy Rupert (photo by Drew Berry)

The new choreographic work, titled "8 minutes 17 seconds" (the time it takes light to travel from the Sun to Earth), interweaves 8 separate dances (each 8:17 in length) into one stream of weather, time, luminosity and mortality.  It will premiere at The Theatre Centre in January 2020 with a cast of 13 and a team of 7 other collaborators. It's a massive project for me and I want the research and imagery supporting it to be just as expansive.

It can’t be a coincidence that there is such poetry in the language of science, which we often conceive of as being sterile, objective, definitive.

A friend of mine, a PhD in Molecular Biology, once conspiratorially said to me,

“Real scientists are always looking for the unknown. Once we figure something out we want to go to the next edge of unknown. Like artists, right?”

Maybe that’s the difference between entertainment and art? Both have great value to society. But one shows us what we know and the other pokes at what we maybe don’t know. I had always felt the magnetic pull between art and science – I chalked that up to my parents, both their nature and nurture -- but my friend’s words congealed the connection in a way that I hadn’t previously seen.

Blue Ceiling dance in rehearsal of 8 minutes 17 seconds, choreographic section by Karen Kaeja. (Photo of Lucy Rupert taken by Karen Kaeja)

Of course: art and science are trying to describe the world that we know and the possibilities of what else there may be. Are we pawing at the same door but coming at it down different hallways?

I read many years ago – and I can’t remember which scientist put it this way – that art and science undergo similar stages in their processes: Saturate, Incubate and Illuminate. This scientist went on to say that science has one more stage: Verify.

But I think art has Verify as well. That is sharing of our work. Whether on stage, on a wall in a gallery, in a public park, or a rarely-visited blog, when you put your work out into the world to see where and how it lands, this is Verify.

Blue Ceiling dance/Lucy Rupert in Frankenstein Fragments. (Photo by Zahra Salecki)

In my experience, there is scientific process, even as simplistically as I learned it in high school, embedded in the creative process. Hypothesis, constraints, repeatable conditions, observing/measuring the outcome. Then you do it again. Compare results. Share.

So I want to talk with scientists to see how they view the creative act in their scientific processes and how they view the scientific act embedded in artistic processes. Perhaps I want to find out that these divisions aren’t practically relevant.

What's coming?

Interviews with some of the most creative scientific minds, people working at the mysterious and imaginative edges of their fields. And I'm still looking for more, so send me your suggestions, if you have some!

I want to know how people do their work, what are their rigours and eurekas?

Stay tuned....


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