Art and Science
A restless inquisitiveness has always been at the core of both artistic and scientific endeavor, activities characterized by the urge to probe, to question, to push boundaries. As design scholar John Maeda put it in a recent essay for Scientific American, “We know that the scientist’s laboratory and the artist’s studio are two of the last places reserved for open-ended inquiry, for failure to be a welcome part of the process, for learning to occur by a continuous feedback loop between thinking and doing.”
On the pages of Illumination, we have long recognized that lessons learned in the lab, library and studio each play an important role in advancing innovation and inventiveness, the two sometimes disruptive qualities that, more than perhaps any others, have helped our nation maintain its place as the world’s “idea factory.”
Take, for example, the works featured on our cover. MU faculty artist Joseph Pintz uses the most elemental of media, clay, to lovingly render commonplace things, among them kitchen utensils and gardening implements. When displayed on a gallery wall, these transfigured tools invite us to rethink how human labor, and the objects we’ve created to perform it, has shaped who we are and, by extension, what we will become.
The impulse to reconsider received wisdom is a common theme in these pages. In this issue you’ll learn about a music scholar who is using imaging technology to help pianists unlearn techniques that lead to injury. You’ll read about the work of two life scientists who believe that managing HIV/AIDS as a chronic condition isn’t good enough, a pair of scholars who have determined that “aging-out” business leaders at 65 can be counterproductive, and an evolutionary biologist whose out-ofthe- box thinking about tropical lizards is changing the way scientists think about climate change.
These MU faculty members, along with the many others featured in this issue, show that bold new ideas can demolish barriers and open the doors to discovery. I hope you’ll agree that the breakthroughs which ensue, whether defined as “science” or “art,” are beautiful things indeed.
Interim Vice Chancellor for Research, Graduate Studies and Economic Development