Riffing on Books and Life – Arts & Sciences Literary Blog by interactive new media author & artist Terry Bailey

25Feb/11

Art Is Science!

Terry Bailey's Texaco Texas Case Color Palette Story Animation

Art is difficult. Whether the art is for "commercial purposes" - as in the litigation support interactive project I created for Texaco in 1997 (shown in the demo animation above) - or art that is considered "fine art" - art that may be bought and sold, but is created by an artist for non commercial purposes. Artists work hard to create art of value, of substance, art that uncovers important truths. Just as scientists work hard in their searches for truth. I cannot bend to anyone's notion that the truth of science is more valuable, important, difficult, or true than the truths discovered by art.

In the 1990s I spent some time creating interactive multimedia for a corporate law firm in Washington DC. The managing partner, Ralph Savarese ( a forward thinking attorney!) saw the value of my art, new media and storytelling skills to the process of litigation after his firm settled a patent case based in part on an animation I had created for them to demonstrate a highly technical process and product.

In the Texaco case demonstrated above, I created a new media app that dealt with the (false) accusation that one of Texaco's oil wells was leaking salt water. The well was encased in about a foot of concrete from soil to the depths that it traversed underground. It also had what one engineer referred to as "about six layers of protection" using other technologies to keep the well and its contents secure. That engineer's casual and definitive remark became the subject content "motif" for the interactive new media program I conceptualized and designed for Texaco. I also employed a visual motif of concrete and earth tones (colors) to support the themes of natural and earthiness. After I conceptualized the project and designed the interface and color palette, I took my design staff to a geology library in DC to study the earth in the area of Texas where the case was taking place, and to study oil wells. Washington DC is a researcher's heaven. There is a library for just about any subject.

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6Feb/11

Truth – According to Artists and Scientists, Part 1

(I continue my riffing on Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer. You will need a Flash enabled WEB browser or mobile device to see the animation below)

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If something can't be quantified or calculated, it can't be true. Our current

culture subscribes to a very narrow definition of truth.  (Lehrer p8)

As an artist, author, social commentator, technologist, futurist, scientist, teacher (descriptors I am selecting today to define myself - shouldn't everyone keep such a list?), it is the above statement from Proust was a Neuroscientist that I most want to address. It is a theme, quite frankly, that I am driven to address with the whole of my being and life, because I have always lived in these multiple worlds. And my days have been spent bridging the worlds of art and science.

The day I spent at the Cal Tech TEDx conference a couple of weeks ago was one of the most exciting and stimulating days of my recent memory. But I brought my "narrow definition of truth" magnifying glass to that conference, and noticed things I might otherwise have missed because of my concerted effort to view my experience through that lens.

One of the presenting scientists said: "The smartest people go into physics or math."

In point of fact, lots of smart people go into a phlethora of fields, but to keep my focus here narrowed to a manageable amount of information, I will concentrate on the choice to go into the Arts.

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