Saturday, April 27, 2013

Modern Renaissance People

Whenever I hear about the "art-science divide", I think of our school education system where we are required to choose one or the other. Many teenagers develop a thirst for science and art and struggle to make a decision between the two.  After asking our parents for advice and discussing job prospects for both professions, we usually make the practical choice, a career in science.
By the time we start our university education, we are living a double life. During the day, we explore current scientific topics. By night, we sit alone painting or indulging ourselves in other artistic matters.
“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” ― Vincent van Gogh
Most of this category of students find the division between these two worlds to be intolerable since they cannot dedicate themselves to a single passion. Eventually, they realize that art and science have a common thread: both are fueled by creativity. Whether writing a scientific paper based on the latest research topic or filling a canvas with paint, both processes tell a story and require a creative mind.
I have decided couple of years ago to merge the artistic and scientific realms, and I sought a way forward. I made up my mind to open a major in Computer Graphics and Animation  at the university where I work as a lecturer. Luckily it was not hard for me to sell my idea to the administration. My tool was to show them that opening new “fancy” majors and not just the traditionally known ones could do well in attracting new students. Current job markets require people with hybrid degrees, people who are equally good in science and the arts.
Popular stereotypes frequently represent that scientists and artists are two opposites: one cannot be both scientist and artist. This is totally wrong and has been disproved many times in history and in our daily lives. The most famous example is probably Leonardo Da Vinci, a scientist and a world-famous artist at the same time. The cave painter as well as contemporary artists have, to some degree, also been scientists. In fact, until the last few hundred years, art and science were always closely allied.
The secret to a successful career in such interdisciplinary studies is finding like-minded people. Hybrid educational programs like Computer Graphics & Animation could yield a new generation of visually literate scientists, and could provide us with graduates with dual capabilities, people who are fulfilled and not frustrated. This is truly the modern “Renaissance” person.
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious - the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” ― Albert Einstein

[ Image by Karim Abou Samra ]