Artists Offer Three Views of 'Science': Fact, Speculation, Religion

on Thursday, 23 February 2017. Posted in Artists, Blog

Science as truth:

Hans Haacke’s demonstrated the scientific success of his art and ecology intervention in Rhinewater Purification Plant. The success of his experiment was evident in the clean basin filled with healthy goldfish. His innovative experiment relegated viewers to mere observers of a system that excluded their participation, their understanding, and their support. His mode of address manifested the factual and pedagogical authority that characterized one view of science. 

Science as speculation:

Natalie Jeremijenko disagrees.She objected to the authoritative stance of science and its inaccessibility to the public. Although Jeremijenko earned several advanced degrees in science, she switched careers in order to pursue her experiments within the category of art. She comments: ‘The artist’s view is invaluable precisely because artists are not experts and do not have the authority granted by science. They are only as persuasive as their images. As nonexperts—though interested and knowledgeable—they stand in for the view of Everyman. They transcend boundaries; they transcend disciplines, issues, and expertise. With art, the viewer knows that she has a license to interpret and critically evaluate the work and that her opinion matters. The same can’t be said of science. Scientific arguments are presented in the public imagination as faits accomplis. When definitive terms such as “discovered” and “understood” are the norm, science is often a one-way conversation.”[1]

Science as Religion:

Critical Art Ensemble not only concurs regarding the power of science; they identify this power with the power of a religion. "Science is the institution of authority regarding the production of knowledge, and tends to replace this particular social function of conventional Christianity in the west. In keeping with this position, science has slowly but surely become a key myth maker within society, thus defining for the general population the structure and dynamics of the cosmos and the origins and makings of life, or, in other words, defining nature itself. Much as religion once

[1] Viewer Discretion Advised. Review by Natalie Jeremijenko


[1] Viewer Discretion Advised. Review by Natalie Jeremijenko


     defined the human role in the cosmos, science does the same in such a way that the political economy of the day seems to be a part of nature and attuned to its laws and imperatives….. It is willing and able to exclusively serve the needs of capital, not just by generating knowledge that can be applied for profit, but also by not generating any knowledge or applications that could be detrimental to the maintenance and/or expansion of the system (for example, science has avoided creating a car that does not use fossil fuel).”[1]





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