When once asked what he would have liked to be if not a neurologist, Egas Moniz (1874-1955) replied: a painter, if I just had the skills. This statement, which is not surprising for those who are aware of the tight links between art and science and the related nature of scientific and artistic creativity, is the perfect starting point for some thoughts on the role (and the meaning) of talent, not only in art, but also in the realm of scientific research and development. The discussion will drive us to through the importance of talent and creativity in art and in the contemporary movements that merge it with science, of which artificial art is one of the branches.
Born of a new set of scientific disciplines initiated by Alan Turing (1912-1954) and John von Neumann (1903-1957), amongst other scientists that raised the foundations of complexity studies and artificial intelligence, artificial art introduces new and vital issues in the debates involving the History of Art and Science. It is even possible that artificial art will act as the trigger of a revision of History that takes into account the historical interactions between these two manifestations of human genius (together with humanities, engineering and technology). For the time being, we are mainly interested in some questions that arise from the growing popularity of this new form of art (and in, general, from every artistic expression that interacts with science). When Egas Moniz made the above statement, talent (in the classical sense) was already losing its central role in art. Will this new trends that bring science to the artistic realm definitely eliminate the importance of aesthetics and talent in contemporary art or will they instead contribute to strengthen the ties that have been loose for more than a century? Will talent and aesthetical properties be finally acknowledged as also a part of the edifice of science, following, of course, the acceptance of the similarities between the scientific and artistic method? And, finally, after a period in which conceptual art almost eliminated emotions and astonishment from the galleries and museums, can the ideal of Beauty be resurrected by the appeal and aesthetics of the hidden worlds that are being unveiled by science and technology, explored by artists and admired by the public? In the remaining of this text we do not aim at answering these questions, but merely address them and contribute to an important debate that in the end should converge to one idea: consilience.
This is an excerpt of a text written for Inside [Art and Science], the catalogue of the exhibition with the same name (2009).