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The Pathway between Art and Science
One Painter's Metaphorical Journey
By Guy Levrier


1 "Quos vult Jupiter perdere,dementat prius" : Jupiter begins by removing reason from those whom he wishes to confound.
2 "In the last analysis, the essential thing is the life of the individual. This alone makes history, here alone do the great transformations just take place, and the whole future, the whole history of the world, ultimately spring as a gigantic summation from these hidden sources in individuals. In our most private and most subjective lives we are not only the passive witnesses of our age, but also its makers. We make our own epoch."
C.G. Jung, The Collected works, Vol. 10, London : Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964 P. 149,
"If things go wrong in the world, this is because something is wrong with the individual, because something is wrong with me. Therefore, if I am sensible, I shall put myself right first."
Ibidem p. 154
Quoted in Dana Zohar, The Quantum Self, Quill/William Morrow, New York, 1990.
3 "Jung’s work – his emphasis on the collective unconscious, his notion of synchronistic connections between people and events, his wider definition of the self to include shared archetypes and images of unity, totality…" Zohar (2) p. 158.
4 M. Blondel, L’Etre et les Etres, p. 225-226. (I. Benrubi)
5 "When we assume that all our utterances are metaphorical, the history of scientific thought takes on new and interesting turns. We have found that models are metaphors that can function like analogies. Sometimes metaphorical entities turn out to be physically real : particles transmitting forces, light quanta, and weak natural currents. Being tools for scientific exploration, metaphors can provide access into possible worlds that can become actual ones. Metaphors are a means for continuity in scientific progress. " Arthur I. Miller, Insights of Genius, Copernicus, p. 252. 1996.
6 "Art generally anticipates scientific revisions of reality. Even after these revisions have been expressed in scholarly physics journals, artists continue to create images that are consonant with these insights. Yet a biographical search of the artists’ letters, comments and conversations reveals that they were almost never aware of how their works could be interpreted in the light of new scientific insights into the nature of reality. In these cases to be discussed, artists have continued to work in splendid isolation, bringing forth symbols that have helped the rest of us grasp the meaning of the new concepts even they, the artists, may not have formulated intellectually."
Leonard Shlain, Art and Physics, Quill/William Morrow, New York, pp. 24-25. 1991.
7 "It does not matter if the critics and even the artists themselves are unaware of their singular purpose: If the artist’s work is truly the apparition of the zeitgeist, it can become evident only in retrospect, as society matures and its members achieve the same vantage point visionary artists occupied decades earlier. As Teilhard de Chardin put it:
In short, art represents the area of furthest advance around man’s growing energy, the area in which nascent truths condense, take on their first form, and become animate, before they are definitely formulated and assimilated. This is the effective function and role of art in the general economy of evolution. Art is the singular harbinger of universal mind. (Teilhard de Chardin, Toward the Future, trans. René Hague (New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1975) pp. 90-91).
Leonard Shlain, Art and Physics, Quill/William Morrow, New York, pp. 387-388. 1991.
8 Ernst Gombrich, "Entretien" in L’Image, Paris, Musée d’Histoire contemporaine, B.D.I.C., no. 2, March 1996, p. 207.
9 The artist introduces a new way to see the world, then the physicist formulates a new way to think about the world. Only later do the other members of the civilization incorporate this novel view into all aspects of the culture. The view sitting astride a light beam is all here and ever now. Spacetime consciousness must be holistic, merging as it does all space’s vectors with all time’s durations. It most likely issues forth from the right hemisphere, since the artists and mystics, expressing themselves in images and poetry, are more attuned to this type of consciousness."
Leonard Shlain, Art and Physics, Quill/William Morrow, New York, p. 427. 1991.
10 "The famous "Black square on a white background" was produced in 1913 and first presented in Pëtrograd in 1915, at the Suprematism exhibition. "Painting is finished, the painter is just a prejudice from the past", he wrote. After this initial production, he discovered that just as an expressive contrast could be achieved by opposing like to like : this was his " White square on white background" (1918). Malevitch pursued this " pure experience of the world without objects" until the point at which he ceased painting. Frank Maubert, La peinture moderne, Nathan 1985, p. 75.
11 I observe that philosophers frequently have recourse to the metaphor of an "other" sphere, separate from our material world, such as the sphere of mathematics for Plato, or the noosphere for Teilhard de Chardin, among others.
12 R. Penrose, The emperor’s new mind, P. 280, Oxford University Press, 1985
13 "In rejecting the attempt of physics to hold on to the last shreds of a reality in which objects possess well-defined properties, Bohr introduced a new notion, which he called complementarity. Complementarity means that the quantum universe cannot be contained within a single description . Rather, complementary and even paradoxical descriptions are required – like wave and particle. The closer one focuses on one description, the more ambiguous the other becomes." F. David Peat, Einstein’s moon, p. 46, Contemporary Books, 1990.
14 Peat, [10] p. 127.
15 "The theory of complementarity, however, fuses the out there back together with the in here. Not only are the observer and the observed connected, but the connection is not classically causal: It is part of the new quantum thinking. In the words of another physicist, Erwin Schrödinger,

...the reason why our sentient, percipient, and thinking ego is met somewhere in our world picture can easily be indicated in seven words: because it is ITSELF that world picture. It is identical with the whole and therefore cannot be contained in it as part of it. (R. Fischer, ed., Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Time (New York : New York Academy of Science, 1967), p. 102).
Leonard Shlain, Art and Physics, Quill/William Morrow, New York, p. 430. 1991.
16 Jacques Mandelbrojt, "Has my scientific activity influenced my painting?" in Cahiers art et science, May 1994, p.50, Editions Confluences.
And a remarkable and demonstrative coincidence: one of the paintings which illustrates the article is entitled "Necessary and perhaps sufficient"! It dates from 1986, whereas I started myself to paint on a white background in 1983, and this article only appeared in 1994.
17 Yves Michaud, La crise de l’art contemporain, p. 31, Presses Universitaires de France, 1997.
18 Nathalie Heinich, Les rejets de l’art contemporain, Association ADRESSE 1995.
19 "A prophet, then, does not look forward in time so much as expresses the condition of the spacetime continuum: that which is timeless. In spacetime the most ancient is intermingled with the most futuristic. For the prophet these two are one, since in the unified mythic realm of spacetime such distinctions as "past" and "future are meaningless."
Leonard Shlain, Art and Physics, Quill/William Morrow, New York, p. 428. 1991.


Bell, John:
A physicist at CERN, the European elementary-particle laboratory in Geneva, in Switzerland, John Bell is famous for his theorem, published in 1964, which gave an elegant solution to the debate between Einstein, defending classical physics, and Bohr favorable to quantum physics, which involves a new concept of reality. The theorem proves Bohr right by saying that a higher correlation exists in quantum mechanics, compared to any (classical) theory of local reality. Consequently, any attempt to understand reality must take into account the universe as a Whole.
Bohr, Niels (1885 - 1962):
One of the foremost scientists of the 20th century, Niels Bohr was the first to apply the quantum theory, which restricts the energy of a system to certain discrete values, to the problem of atomic and molecular structure. He was a guiding spirit and major contributor to the development of quantum physics.

Bohr won the 1922 Nobel Prize of Physics, chiefly for his work on the structure of atoms.

In his last years, he tried to point out ways in which the idea of complementarity could throw light on many aspects of human life and thought.
Collective unconscious:
Unitive unconscious - that aspect of our consciousness that transcends space, time and culture, but of which we are not aware. A concept first introduced by Jung.
The characteristic of quantum objects possessing opposite aspects, such as waviness and particleness, only one of which we can see with a given experimental arrangement (Goswami).
Death of art, non-art :
Roughly equivalent expressions commonly used throughout the artistic press (e.g. Art press, De la mort de l’art à la mode de l’art et comment s’en sortir, 1986, n° 100).
Einstein, Albert (1879 - 1955):
Recognized in his own time as one of the most creative intellects in human history, Albert Einstein, in the first 15 years of the 20th century, advanced a series of theories that for the first time asserted the equivalence of mass and energy and proposed entirely new ways of thinking about space, time, and gravitation. His theories of relativity and gravitation were a profound advance over the old Newtonian physics and revolutionized scientific and philosophic inquiry.

Einstein's special theory of relativity held that, if, for all frames of reference, the speed of light is constant and if all natural laws are the same, then both time and motion are found to be relative to the observer. A mathematical footnote to the special theory of relativity established the equivalence of mass and energy. This relationship is commonly expressed in the form E = mc2.

Einstein afterwards perfected his general theory of relativity, which he published in 1916. The heart of this postulate was that gravitation is not a force, as Newton had said, but a curved field in the space-time continuum, created by the presence of mass.

He was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics "for his photoelectric law and his work in the field of theoretical physics." Relativity, still the centre of controversy at the time, was not mentioned.
Malevich, Kazimir (1878 - 1935):
Russian painter, founder of the Suprematist school of abstract painting. In his early work, he followed Impressionism and Fauvism, and was later on influenced by Picasso and cubism. In 1913 Malevich created abstract geometrical patterns in a manner he called Suprematism. He published a book entitled "Die gegenstandslose Welt" (The Nonobjective World). He constantly strove to produce pure, cerebral compositions, repudiating all sensuality and representation in art. His well-known "White on White" (1918; Museum of Modern Art, New York City) carries his Suprematist theories to their logical conclusion. He died in poverty and oblivion.
So small or fine as to be invisible or not clearly distinguished without the use of a microscope.
Large enough to be observed by the naked eye.
Quantum physics:
According to quantum theory, electromagnetic radiation does not always consist of continuous waves; instead it must be viewed under some circumstances as a collection of particle-like photons, the energy and momentum of each being directly proportional to its frequency (or inversely proportional to its wavelength, the photons still possessing some wavelike characteristics). Conversely, electrons and other objects that appear as particles in classical physics are endowed by quantum theory with wavelike properties as well, such a particle's quantum wavelength being inversely proportional to its momentum.

Although atomic energies can be sharply defined, the positions of the electrons within the atom cannot be, quantum mechanics giving only the probability for the electrons to have certain locations. This is a consequence of the feature that distinguishes quantum theory from all other approaches to physics, the indeterminacy (or uncertainty) principle of Werner Heisenberg.

Although it deals with probabilities and uncertainties, the quantum theory has been spectacularly successful in explaining otherwise inaccessible atomic phenomena and in thus far meeting every experimental test. Its predictions, especially those of QED, are the most precise and the best checked of any in physics; some of them have been tested and found accurate to better than one part per billion.
Acausal but meaningful coïncidences, a term employed by C. G. Jung
Uncertainty principle:
One can never be exactly sure of both the position and the velocity of a particle: the more accurately one knows the one, the less accurately one can know the other (Hawking).



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