Art and Physics Parallel Visions in Space Time and Light

Art and Physics Parallel Visions in Space Time and Light [Download] ➵ Art and Physics Parallel Visions in Space Time and Light Author Leonard Shlain – Art interprets the visible world physics charts its unseen workings making the two realms seem completely opposed But in Art Physics Leonard Shlain tracks their breakthroughs side by side throughout h Art Physics Parallel Visions in PDF/EPUB ² interprets the visible Physics Parallel PDF/EPUB è world physics charts its unseen workings making the two realms seem completely opposed But in Art Physics Leonard Shlain tracks Art and Kindle - their breakthroughs side by side throughout history to reveal an astonishing correlation of visionsFrom teh classical Greek sculptors to Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns and and Physics Parallel ePUB ´ from Aristotle to Einstein aritsts have foreshadowed the discoveries of scientists such as when Money and Cezanne intuited the coming upheaval in physics that Einstein and Physics Parallel Visions in PDF/EPUB ² would initiate In this lively and colorful narrative Leonard Shlain explores how artistic breakthroughs could have prefigured the visionary insights of physicists on so many occasions throughtout historyProvacative and original Art Physics is a seamless integration of the romance of art and the drama of scienceand exhilarating history of ideas.

10 thoughts on “Art and Physics Parallel Visions in Space Time and Light

  1. WarpDrive WarpDrive says:

    Oh dear This is probably one of the most infuriatingly frustrating books I have read in uite a long time It could have been so much better And this is the second time within a short time span that I feel duty bound to post a not so positive review of a book that has been rated so highly by the overwhelming majority of readers It is a book that does contain some very interesting and original insights and it is well written in a beautiful engaging and fluent prose; the author is also uite brilliant as an art critic and proficient and knowledgeable as an art historian But this is also a book that is deeply flawed riddled with scientific and historical inaccuracies defined by a uestionable methodological approach and directed at proving an outlandish and utterly unconvincing thesis The overall thesis of this book is condensed in a few words that art manages in some mysterious way to pre cognitively anticipate science Some of the examples listed by the author are Cubism Surrealism and Futurism anticipating with “sibylline accuracy” the tenets of much modern physics such as special relativityThe author rather than sharing the commonly accepted view that such new artistic forms of expression were an articulation of the social and cultural upheavals resulting from an accelerating pace of deeply transformative technological developments and its conseuent disorienting effects in conjunction with the devastating effects on the social fabric originated from the two World Wars attributes such new art forms to a mystically prescient character of art in generalIs modern art about foreseeing the future of scientific development as the author states or is it in reality about the deeply introspective psychological rendering of the existential angst and insecurity of modern Man his new aesthetic sense resulting from a sophisticated complex multifaceted and disorienting cultural and social environment? Personally I think that there is no uestion that the latter is the fitting answer And the author does not limit this thesis to modern times he also claims that “the precognition of the intuitive artist in the Renaissance foreshadowed the discoveries of the analytical scientist”What a big missed opportunity to explore the real and interesting relationship affecting both art and science the relationship between the conceptual and linguistic substrate available to a given society during a particular historical stage and their influence to the the way science and art and all forms of inuiries and representation operate as a result Or the eually interesting two way relationship between the cultural environment in general including the arts and science relationship which is one of the many themes that philosophy of science tries to address Or even the fascinating role that a particular type of aesthetic sensibility can play in the development of mathematics and science in some cases even to the point of creating expectation of “beauty” as a criteria to scientific truth like in the case of Dirac Sadly there is none of such themes in this book The author does make some interesting points about the existence of intellectual paradigms and their importance as enablers of progress but the overall approach and themes are unfortunately driven by the unsuccessful pursuit of the author's outlandish main hypothesis In order to support his self proclaimed revolutionary thesis the author indulges into an exercise of very selective and disingenuous sampling peppering the book with confusing if not misleading statements when describing physical theories such as relativity and uantum mechanics Moreover he has the infuriating tendency to select the most speculative theories or interpretations rather than the current scientific consensus and this is aggravated by the fact that the author does not disclose his peculiar approach There are also such big logical jumps and such an overall highly selective interpretation of available facts that at times this book reads almost like a book of Nostradamus prophesies or a treatise on Biblical NumerologyLet me list an extract of some of the inaccuracies or uestionableconfusing statements that I found in this book the author virtually discounts out of hand much of the period of the Middle Ages considering it almost as a sterile intermission between Classical Antiuity and the Renaissance he calls it “the long night of the Dark Ages” this view is so hopelessly outdated it seems like something out of the 19th century that it does not even deserve a detailed rebuttal Clearly the author is no historian Moreover the author's statement that the Christian Church did “set out to obliterate every work of art that remained from Classical Antiuity” is factually incorrect and it totally ignores the deep relationship between Christianity and the Classical World as for example clearly visible in the deep interconnection with Platonism Plotinus being a remarkably evident case page 133 special relativity “upsets the fundamental philosophical belief in the law of causality” This is a deeply flawed statement special relativity is fully consistent with the causality principle If two events are causally connected if one lies within the light cone of the other the causal order is preserved in all frames of reference To break causality and have event A “causing” event B in one frame of reference but event B “causing” event A in another frame of reference you would need FTL faster than light travel The author confuses this with relativity of simultaneity which is the concept that distant simultaneity – whether two spatially separated events occur at the same time– is not absolute but depends on the observer's reference frame Moreover special relativity does NOT mean arbitrary subjectivity as each frame of reference can be mathematically translated into another frame with the appropriate Lorentz transformation The author like similar authors with an incomplete understanding of special relativity has been misled by the term “relativity” in reality special relativity is about “invariance” based as it is on the constancy of the speed “c” and on the invariance of spacetime intervals under Lorentz coordinate transformations page 148 the author states in relation to uantum mechanics that “the observations and thoughts of the observer enter into the measurements of the real world – children at play artists at work and scientists measuring uantum effects are all creating reality” This seems to me a uite disingenuous playing by the author with speculative views in relation to the “measurement issue” in uantum mechanics This seems just like one of the so many examples of “uantum woo” that sadly infest uite a few popularizations “uantum woo” justification of irrational beliefs by obfuscatory references to uantum physics And in any case of course any agent carrying out any sort of activity creates reality the action of the agent certainly influences it and so what ? the author relies heavily and repeatedly on the limiting very special case of special relativity defined by the photon being massless traveling at speed “c” He is imagining an observer “riding a light beam” and using such case to “prove” that any form of modern art painting that flattens the picture eliminating the traditionally perspectivist approach and thus removing the dimension of “depth” is the precursor of the relativistic length contraction that at light speed reduces such dimension to zero And that all paintings where the time is “transfixed” like in Surrealistic paintings or where many events are represented simultaneously in the canvas are precursor to the relativistic effect of time dilation in special relativity up to the point where in the case of the photon time itself stops and the photon has access to the totality of time Well apart from the preposterous and artificial character of such association there are so many things wrong or at least misleading with the “physics” side of such example as used by the author that I do not know even where to start First of all we simply can't get in a photon's frame of reference by definition because the core tenet of special relativity is that lights travel at speed “c” in ALL frames to reference so you just can't get in a frame of reference where the photon would be at rest with respect to you this would contradict the very nature of special relativity This is actually what Einstein said in his gedankenexperiment – that you can't “catch up” with a photon It is not possible to be in a rest frame of a photon Also I would uestion how sensical it actually is to consider a case where the Lorentz conversion factor gamma goes to infinity – when you get infinity values you have to be very careful before making any assumptions and taking any conclusions You can say in a metaphorical sense that the photon experiences no time but even assuming that this is a meaningful statement we also need to take into account that within the same considerations that the photon travels zero distance; so the whole example is very dangerous and prone to misconception Yes you can always say that you can assume that you are traveling at speed asymptotically close to c but the whole example in any case seems preposterous and very forced By the way such examples of simultaneity can be seen in the cave paintings of the Lascaux Cave does it mean that our artistically gifted human ancestors had some form of special relativity pre cognition than 20000 years ago ? Come on page 221 the author states that “if Einstein lamented the absence of a vocabulary with which to communicate his remarkable theories he had only to look to art to find the appropriate images” What does this actually mean ? Does really a Cubist painting represent in a informative way or has explanatory power than language when it comes to the tenets of relativity such as Lorentz invariance ? In my opinion this statement in its generality is virtually meaningless page 244 the author states that “in 1945 America alone stood triumphant among nations” Has the author ever heard of Stalingrad? Does he not know who was the actual major contributor to the defeat of Germany? page 300 the author refers to “tachions” particles supposed to travel faster than light and backwards in time to confirm that time travel to the past is a possibility Well this is definitely a highly speculative hypothesis which has never been corroborated by even the flimsiest shred of evidence and something against the current consensus page 303 the author talks about “recursiveness of the geometry of non Euclidean spacetime” This statement demands some serious clarification Not all possible non Euclidean spacetime geometries are “recursive” It depends on the curvature and topology the best experimental data available so far points to a flat universe not in a definite way though Within a flat universe the main two topological options are the Euclidean space which is not “recursive” using the author terminology and the torus which is “recursive” There is also the chance of a universe of very slight negative curvature in which case it would non Euclidean non closed or a very slight positive curvature in which case it would be non Euclidean closed page 345 the author states that “space was in fact a geometry and force is due to this feature of space” Here the author is referring to general relativity While the author overall presentation of general relativity is not too bad even if a bit confused this particular statement should be rephrased to something like “the curvature of spacetime is related to the present energymomentum of matterradiation and any “object” follows a geodesic path along this curved spacetime unless acted upon by a force” page 359 “nothing of substance could exist on the other side of the event horizon because the gravity would crush the entity's atoms like so many grapes at harvest time” I guess the author is here referring to the tidal forces experienced when approaching a black hole This is just a minor clarification but in reality the point at which tidal forces become noticeable depends on the black hole's size Contrary to popular belief the strength of such tidal forces is inversely proportional to the size of the black hole For a super massive black hole such as those found at a galaxy's center this point lies well within the event horizon so an astronaut may cross the event horizon without noticing any tidal effect On the contrary for small black holes the tidal forces would kill even well before the astronaut reaches the event horizon page 362 the author talks about wormholes and white holes when dealing with the celestial objects named uasars Again the author picks the most outlandish and speculative theories rather than accepting the current overwhelming consensus that uasars are super massive black holes at the center of galaxies the whole chapter 25 is garbage and firmly in crackpot territory the author here talks about weird concepts such as “human superconsciousness” “continuum of cosmic consciousness” and “ectoplasmic pool of awareness that exist in a higher dimension and subsumes individual minds” He talks about how “universal mind could exist in the four dimensions of the spacetime continuum and be missed or misperceived by three dimensional humans” The author uses these nebulous and ill formed concepts to support his hypothesis and to explain why arts have demonstrated such “prescience” The best statement is in page 430 though “universal mind most likely manifests itself in our coordinate systems as clairvoyance” What a load of New Age bullshit I find myself forced to say here It does look like it has been generated automatically by this kind of software page 427 the author states that “relativity and uantum mechanics both propose hypothetical circumstances where precognition would be possible ?” Really??? In what cases ? As in many other examples the author just comes up with these obfuscatory statements without getting into any detail I imagine he might be referring to the phenomenon of uantum entanglement Well this phenomenon can't be used to transmit any information at speed faster than light page 430 the author states that Bohr's complementarity principle “proposes that there can be no such thing as objective reality” In reality such principle simply holds that particles have complementary properties which cannot be observed or measured at the same time for example it is impossible to measure both the full wave like and particle like properties at a single moment also non commuting observable can't be simultaneously measured with arbitrary precision but this is a different story That's all – such principle does not necessarily make any ontological claims in relation to objective reality To conclude I must highlight that this book is still an interesting and pleasurable read containing some original and interesting insights and some very intriguing connections; the author's knowledge and passion for the arts is evident in some of his beautiful commentaries his description of Surrealist art which by the way is my favourite current of modern art is top notch Just do not take him too seriously when it comes to science or history His main thesis is utterly unconvincing and the author thoroughly fails to prove it in any meaningful sense but the book is still worth reading even if just for its artistic side albeit with some caution 25 stars rounded up to 3 after all the copyright date of this book is 1991 when the New Age esoteric pseudo scientific bullshit was still all the rage in a few countries therefore I feel that some leniency is warranted

  2. Sara Sara says:

    The full title of this book is Art and Physics Parallel Visions in Space Time and Light and it was written by a surgeon I point out this last detail because I think non professional works of high intellectual ambition are pretty rare And well executed ones are even rarer I believe outsiders to an established discipline can often see patterns make connections or hazard hypotheses that a trained professional either could not or would not do Professional academics scientists artists and so forth who have spent years and years studying practicing and executing their crafts can and maybe should possess a snob factor about this kind of book I suppose I understand this stance although I have a lot of musings about institutionalized disciplines and power structures of learning that I do not really want to get into right here I offer however that I found Leonard Shlain's book about art and physics fascinating well written and insofar as I am euipped to say well researched Shlain examines correspondences in the visual arts and physics from the classical period through the present I found this a wonderful project especially as Shlain's ultimate hypothesis is not that the arts were influenced by developments in the sciences but that the arts in strange and obscure ways seem to over time prefigure scientific discoveries That is Shlain does not propose causality but correspondence I find this especially interesting because it seems so unexplainable It is precisely the kind of hypothesis I would never expect to find in an institutionally derived work Additionally an institutionally derived work would likely never purport to marry art and physics in the first place the arts and sciences are so often viewed in opposition to each other and not as complementary visions of the same reality Shlain's final argument concerns an ultimate connectivity of cognitive states and all time and matter that occurs in a dimension we cannot perceive with our measly three dimensional senses Metaphorically our individual seeming three dimensional selves function like our cells independently but nonetheless creating a unity of form and function even of consciousness In the case of cells the unity is us or a cat or a plant etc In the case of us as cellswhat is the unity we create? We simply cannot perceive this unity because we are locked in our three dimensionality Some artists as sensitive nodes Shlain's argument runs get a glimmer of this unity translate it into their art and thereby provide effective visual metaphors for scientific discoveries that have not yet occured and that are exceedingly difficult to imagine as they precisely pertain to reality exterior to our three dimensions he uses primarily Einstein's theories concerning gravity and how bizarrely matter behaves at the speed of lightThis may sound far out but I would suggest you give this book a fighting chance Shlain's basic argument his evaluation of various artworks as demonstrating specific scientific findings it all hinges on metaphor And metaphor is an exceedingly powerful non causal means of connectivity The roots of metaphor grow out of language which in turn is likely the root out of which grows our very cognition Julian Jaynes has argued that consciousness itself is a metaphorical space we have created linguistically Additionally many of the scientific findings of the 20th century that pertain to light physics and the nature of reality are only comprehensible to our three dimensional minds via metaphor There seems to be something accurate about the correspondences in metaphorical relationships than about the causal relationships between events that we purport to live by As Hayden White has observed causality is a construction imposed on events through our human need to narrativize causality and narrative do not inhere in events themselves and only seem to do so when we are bounded by the third dimension and cannot perceive time as a unityThe short of the long is that Shlain probably made a few mistakes here and there that an artist writing about art a physicist writing about physics and a historian writing about the history of either would not have made But neither would the artist the physicist or the historian likely have blended these seemingly disjointed disciplines into one comprehensive vision of the reality in which we find ourselves

  3. Tam Nguyen Tam Nguyen says:

    I bought this book in 2008 when it was first published in Vietnam At that time I made a claim that I would know about the world and I picked this book Truthfully speaking I couldn't finish even a chapter mainly because I had no idea about many terms which were not familiar to me and I was ignorant of basic knowledge about art and even physics I abandoned it until 2013 I decided to read it again I have been amazed of Shlain's knowledge about art and physics which are not his specializations But acuiring knowledge from his self study turns out to be his advantage because it makes his opinion accessing to the larger audience This book ranges from a numerous fields including literature psychology philosophy and of course art and physics I recommend it for everyone who wants to experience the joy of having knowledge about art and many subjects Or you could just read him to entertain his thought It is fascinating

  4. Rachel Rachel says:

    Revolutionary art and visionary physics attempt to speak about matters that do not yet have words That is why their languages are so poorly understood by people outside their fields Because both speak of what is certainly to come however it is incumbent upon us to learn to understand them p20Magical thinking is the antithesis of reasonVan Gogh once wrote A child in the cradle has the infinite in its eyeEvery child is born with a desire to re create the world in his or her own terms This powerful motivation for producing art has always been a means of imposing order on the disjointed pieces of a child's emerging worldview For the child with few exceptions magic and art are fun Art translates curiosity and wonder into mastery over environment p140141Children at play artists at work and scientists measuring uantumeffects share this in common They are all creating reality p148

  5. Anna Anna says:

    A book that looks at my two favorite things When I started reading about physics all I could think about was its relation to the arts This book takes the history of science and the history of art and shows the similarities in the various art and science movements I love it

  6. Julie Julie says:

    I have lent this book out many times and I never seem to get it back I purchased another copy not too long ago as I intend to give it another read since it's been so long since I've read it maybe 20 years or so I was naturally attracted to the title as I love reading about both art and physics So seeing them together in one book sounded like too much fun I have read another one of this author's books titled THE ALPHABET VERSUS THE GODDESS that was also thought provoking I bought it without realizing it was the same author I also have one on my shelf that I haven't read of his titled SEX TIME POWER I like this author because he asks what if and just sets about diving deep into what he wonders about In a nutshell this book is about SEEING THE WORLD IN A NEW WAY and how artists see it first and then science follows The author uses primarily paintings as his artistic examples juxtaposed against revolutionary physicist discoveries He shows example after example throughout history Da Vinci Newton and Matisse Heisenberg and Picasso Einstein to name a few How we see the world in a new way is right up there with the meaning of life for me as far as things to muse It fascinates me for several reasons one being that most of what we believe to be the TRUTH won't hold water in 1000 years Another is that which is within any one person that allows them to not only see beyond the illusion that we all accept as the truth but also to say it out loud knowing that it may cost them their head And finally what are those eternal truths that will still be deemed true in 1000 years and does that make them truth or fiction in 10000 years Often I side with uestions on this matter of truth or fiction A REALLY GOOD UESTION SEEMS MORE ETERNAL THAN MOST GREAT ANSWERS And interesting to be honestThis book is also filled with great uotes and points of view from great writers artists scientists and other visionaries throughout history The author shows how literature and music were also in the mix there seems to be a sort of SYNCHRONICITY when it comes to seeing the world in a new way just as there seems to be some of this when it comes to scientific discoveries Before news moved at lightning speed it was interesting how people from different parts of the world were seeing the same things at around the same times This leads one to wonder if everything we are to discover has already been discovered or perhaps is just waiting for us to have new eyes in which to see what has been there all along It's also not that unusual to muse that people from different fields that are curious and brave enough to see something new will express it in their own way art science literature etc It could be as simple as an idea that's time has come suddenly reveals itself to all of us as plain as the full moon in a clear night sky and yet it is only a few that can see it Maybe in the end it only takes a willingness to ask WHAT IF and a spirit daring enough to say WHY NOTI may add to this review when I take this book for another spin While the detail has eluded me the impression this book made upon is with me still

  7. Amy Amy says:

    ThesisYears ago I heard neurosurgeon Leonard Shlain read from Art Physics Parallel Visions in Space Time Light at the Aspen Institute in a symposium called “Unified Field Summit Art Science and Spirituality” My poetry professor had recently won a big prize for her book “The Dream of the Unified Field” I didn’t yet know about the unified field theory in physics We spontaneously drove the four hours to Aspen to see comic book writer Grant Morrison Ralph Abraham mathematician and chaos theoretician was a bonus Little did I realize we would also be among media theorist Douglas Rushkoff cultural critic Erik Davis and DJ Spooky However I was completely unprepared for Leonard Shlain who outlined how breakthroughs in science happen concurrently with breakthroughs in the visual arts PicassoEinstein Perspectivescientific method Not everyone was impressed with Shlain Someone indicated that Shlain’s thesis was ordinary obvious even I allowed myself to be changed People always know than you You know than others Why let relativity undermine anyone’s experience? A poem I had written based on Grant Morrison’s comic book The Invisibles had just been published in Conjunctions and so I brought a copy of it with me to give to Morrison Even though we saw him throughout the conference—in a workshop on magic on the sidewalk lined with impossible trees—I never had the literary journal to give to him I finally did have it when we were sitting next to a featured panelist in the audience for DJ Spooky’s presentation Since I knew this featured panelist was acuainted with Morrison I gave him a copy of the issue to pass along He looked through the issue and said Oh you’re next to John Ashbery Yes in the journal In present fourth dimensional spacetime I am next to you It was only then that I began to understand the larger politics of associationAssociation is expressed not just politically but also aesthetically Shlain’s Art Physics provided the foundation for my ideas on uantum poetics which apply principles in theoretical physics to poetry and prose Extending Shlain’s thesis and the work of others I was considering how breakthroughs in literature coincide with breakthroughs in science PicassoEinsteinStein Around this time I became aware of Allen Ginsberg’s suggestion to “notice what you notice” I was noticing Terence McKenna talk about the concrescence of novelty Isn’t a poem a novel form?

  8. Rachel Rachel says:

    Leonard Shlain a surgeon from California began this project after visiting an art museum with his young daughter He realized that in the cases of some modern works he could not explain to her why they ualified as art at all What he wondered was modern art trying to communicate and why was so much of modern art difficult to comprehend?Shlain concluded after extensive research that the radical innovations of art embody the preverbal stages of new concepts concerning the nature of reality Art and Physics explores how different styles of art from ancient times to the modern era have treated space time and light; then compares the artistic vision to the work of scientists trying to grasp those same concepts He believes that artists have often portrayed ideas about for example the nature of light or the relativity of space before physicists arrived at those same ideasIf artists really are unknowingly creating works that anticipate cutting edge physics what could explain such prescience? Pardon the pun That uestion pulls Shlain into metaphysical territory He suggests that the existence of a universal mind an overarching disembodied universal consciousness that binds and organizes the power generated by every person's thoughts could explain how an artist can incorporate ideas into his or her work that have not as yet been discovered by physicists and that are certainly unknown to the general publicThe strengths of this book are that it is very readable and that it assembles incredibly wide ranging material into a coherent narrative However I doubt that an expert in physics or in art would be entirely satisfied with Shlain's exposition The book's subject is simply too broad for its thesis to be rigorously supported

  9. kyle kyle says:

    Both fascinating and infuriating Shlain probably because of his outsider status to both of the fields he is considering manages to make remarkably thought provoking comparisons between the world of art and physics Some struck while reading as brilliant For example the stable inertial frame so important for classical mechanics is compared to the transition to a dominant mode in classical music And this in turn is compared to the development of perspective in art Great stuff His writing on Einstein is fantastic and I learned that I have a lot to learn about the development of modern art great but I assume widely written about discussions on Manet and Cezanne especially interested me But Shlain's enthusiasm and breadth leads to a sacrifice of depth which grows tiresome as the book plows on Worth perusing certainly

  10. Pravin Subramanian Pravin Subramanian says:

    This is a revolutionary book by all means I can safely say that it introduced me to concepts in art and explained their connections with real world scienceAn example to cite would be Edouard Manet's paintings with their field of vision techniues or Cubism having parallels in how we understand space and time non linearlyIt is difficult to pen down each experience in detail but in summary i'd recommend this book if you truly want to understand art and physics as a layperson in isolation as well as two fields complementing each other

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