From a thread on Savage Minds in which OAC members might be interested

From Jon Kolko ( ):

Design typically utilizes a form of applied anthropology – I'll take “bastardized," if you' ll give me the time of day as a result of the compromise – to understand a problem with sufficient depth to move forward. It's part of a larger process of abductive reasoning, where an intuitive leap based on “just enough data” allows for forward motion.
Design is not Science, and it's not Art.

From McCreery

Jon, would it make sense to you to suggest that “knowing” varies from subjective conviction, sufficient for the artist, to public verification, demanded by science and courts of law at whatever level is taken to count as beyond reasonable doubt, with design falling between these extremes. Practically speaking the issue is when certainty reaches a level sufficient to drive action.

The artist is free to be inspired and proceed however he or she wants; the feedback that will determine the ultimate status of the work, as masterpiece or forgotten in history’s dustbin will be relatively slow. Indeed, in some cases, the artist may be long dead before the value of the work is recognized.

The designer works to order and combines inspiration with immediate feedback from clients whose wishes must be respected if not always obeyed. And when designs go into production the public response is fairly rapid.

The scientist's inspiration leads to methodical research whose methods and results must then be exposed to the scientist’s peers for verification. The results may then be further confirmed by application in development of new and, sometimes, radically world-changing technology.

This latter point marks the difference between science and the bulk of sound humanistic scholarship. The humanist also writes for peers who will question his or her methods and results. In the humanities, however, truly world-changing ideas are rare. The humanist’s ideas are only effective in changing the world in so far as they lead to the mobilization, energizing and organization of political movements. Most of what now counts as anthropological research is not in this category.

Views: 19


You need to be a member of Open Anthropology Cooperative to add comments!

Comment by M Izabel on December 6, 2010 at 11:34pm
I think the distinction between arts and science depends on the context, method, objective, and function used to study a specimen. A printed image of an ice fractal displayed in a museum is art, and the one observed under a microscope is science.
Comment by John McCreery on December 6, 2010 at 4:19am
Serendipitously, I was in Milan last week with a Japanese chorus (but that is another story). During time off from rehearsals and performance, I went to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper and then went on to the Museum of Science and Technology where an entire gallery is devoted to exquisite scale models of the machines sketched by Leonardo found in the Codex Atlanticus. Both the Last Supper and the models pose serious problems for conventional notions of art, design, science and technology. The Last Supper is art; but the history of its production demonstrates that it is also a great piece of advertising. The work was commissioned by Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, as part of a mausoleum designed to celebrate the power and glory of his house. It is, in this respect, as thoroughly instrumental as the headquarters buildings designed by celebrated architects and corporate ad campaigns by which transnational companies now celebrate their success and power in the marketplace. The little book I bought at the museum shop takes note of the studies of anatomy, optics, and pigments that informed Leonardo’s art. It reaffirms “the status of Leonardo’s painting as the highest expression of that link between art and science that characterizes all of his work.” The models bring us to the same point starting from the opposite direction. They are mostly of war machines intended for use by the Duke’s armies. Their designs are elegant in the way that my iPad is elegant, a pleasure to the eye as well as highly functional. The forms are, considered apart from function, so compelling that I have no trouble calling them art.

It is clear, then, at least in this case, that the attempt to separate works into discrete cateogires labeled art, design or science is bound to fail. Suspecting that the same is true across the board, I have, instead, in my conversation with Jon Kolko, adopted an anthropological approach informed by my reading of Howard Becker and Pierre Bourdieu. The heart of this approach is to follow the advice that Becker received from his mentor Everett Hughes and avoid the fruitless effort involved in trying to reduce socially significant distinctions to lists of necessary and sufficient conditions. The basic assumption is that distinctions become social facts when those both inside and outside a particular field treat them as such. The critical questions then become who are these people (both the insiders and the outsiders), how are they related to each other and how are their relationships shaped by material and institutional factors as well as personal differences.

Seen from this perspective, it is clear that art, design, and science are overlapping but partially autonomous fields in which different standards for “knowing” apply. Why this should be and the processes involved in the different applications are interesting topics for further study.
Comment by M Izabel on December 5, 2010 at 11:53pm
"Design is not Science, and it's not Art.' Maybe so, if he meant design is both, which is really the case.

How can one design if he doesn't know color theory, perspective drawing, or basic illustration and turn his design into a product if he doesn't know about strength of materials, anatomy for ergonomics, or even friction?


OAC Press



© 2020   Created by Keith Hart.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service