Monday, January 27, 2014

Art and science meet up, sort of...

Some time ago, I wrote about an empty canvas by Bob Law, entitled Nothing to be Afraid Of, which was to be auctioned for an estimated £60, 000. Law was described by the head of the contemporary art department at the auction house as the "most underestimated and overlooked minimalist artist in Britain...who didn't get the recognition that he deserved". In his painting he had apparently "... applied the seductive idea of nothing to a canvas, and asks the viewer to reflect”.

A somewhat puzzled David Hockney was reported as saying "It seems to me that if you make pictures there should be something on the canvas".

In the end, the empty canvas was never sold, at least not at that auction.

Now, I have just read in Real Clear Science about the shortest paper ever published.

It is entitled "The Unsuccessful Self-Treatment of a Case of Writer's Block" by one Dennis Upper.
The paper is an empty page. The referee's comments are reproduced below the empty page and read as follows:

"I have studied this manuscript very carefully with lemon juice and X-rays and have not detected a single flaw in either design or writing style. I suggest it be published without revision. Clearly it is the most concise manuscript I have ever seen-yet it contains sufficient detail to allow other investigators to replicate Dr. Upper's failure. In comparison with the other manuscripts I get from you containing all that complicated detail, this one was a pleasure to examine. Surely we can find a place for this paper in the Journal-perhaps on the edge of a blank page."

There is nothing on the page -- and yet "it contains sufficient detail to allow other investigators to replicate..."

Bob Law asked the viewer to reflect by applying "the seductive idea of nothing to a canvas"

Both scientists and artists can now, in the absence of all detail, create their own details.

So science and art do meet, sort of, don't they? After all, who can deny the similarity here?

Maybe someone should ask the auction house to sell a copy of the paper (preferrably signed by Dennis Upper) alongside Bob Law's empty canvas.

That will be a true meeting of art and science - united under money.

The question is: which one will fetch the higher price?


elizaconzeta said...

meeting up by subverting common horror vacui, sort of?

S.Z. said...

Yeah...sort of.