Art and Science, Science and Art, Science is Art, Art is Science

“We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections”

Niels Bohr

Today, when we are surrounded by ultra-modern and fast technology, to promote science and the importance of scientific achievements seems to be easy because this very technology is the product of scientific research. A much greater challenge is to explain fundamental phenomena and to connect them to ultra-modern technology, for example how can we relate the search for extrasolar planets and mobile phone digital cameras?

And where does art figure in all this? There is a general believe that art and science can in no way go hand in hand, that they are irreconcilable opposites, different fields without overlap, the first inspired by emotion, and the second by the rational. Wiser people say they are essentially the same, driven by the same two forces: curiosity and creativity. They say that both artists and scientists have the same passion and dedication in exploring the unknown and creating something new, and that creativity is equally crucial for scientific research as for artistic expression. Many may not agree that science is creative, but I, as a scientist, deeply believe in it.

Scientists invent fantastic methods and techniques to, for example, extract the most information from a handful of photons in order to reproduce a planetary system or the core of a galaxy, which is billions of billions kilometres away. Those very same photons comprise light, without which art, as we know it, could not exist.

Science and art strive to understand and describe the world around them, using, of course, different approaches and methods based on different traditions and experiences, addressing different audiences, but the motivation and goal are essentially the same: the need to see all that surrounds us in a new way, and to convey this to others in order for the society as a whole to move forward. The idea of the Art & Science project to connect art and science to work together is at the same time progressive, but yet so natural, because both science and art wish to illuminate the truth.

The project Art & Science for the last two years successfully brings artists to the most prestigious scientific institutions with the main idea to draw a bow between micro- and macro-cosmos of

science and digital arts. That is why the scientific partners of the project, which offers a residence to winning artists, are CERN, European Southern Observatories and European Space Agency. Universe and elementary particles, big bang and fusion of elements, launching rockets, explosions, cosmic flights, Earth and Sun, communication with other form of life, are just some of the ideas that inspire the artist supported by this project. The new art-scientific installations are arriving, and I am eager to experience the results of this symbiosis, hoping for something brilliant and magical.

Finally, both science and art are essentially inconceivable through what we call “language”, thus the only thing that remains is not to describe facts, but to create images and establish mental connections.


Dragana Ilić, Science Mentor,

Associate Professor at the Department of Astronomy of the Faculty of Mathematics – University of Belgrade.







Scientist studies nature not because it is useful; rather he studies it because it is a source of pleasure for him, because nature is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worthy of the effort that goes into knowing it, and life would be not worthy of the effort it takes to live it.

Henri Poincare

Science is there to notice and explain natural phenomena. On the other hand, art interprets the natural phenomena and represents them to the society. Logical thinking, the mechanism used by scientists, is not necessary to the world of art that, by using images, sounds, performance… spontaneously and convincingly conveys the scientific concepts.

Science can explain why a formula is good or why a theory is bad. Art can only impress and amaze us, or not, with the beauty of colors, sounds or movements, but it will hardly explain to us fully a natural phenomenon.

However, if we thought that these two worlds are irreconcilable separated, we would be making a big mistake. The art is not possible without science, just as every scientific discovery partly belongs to science and is partly deeply rooted in the arts. There will always be limits up to which science can explain art, as there will always be a limit up to which the artistic inspiration can come close to science.

An important task of science today is to penetrate into all the pores of society, and bring science as close as possible to all its members, regardless of age, the task that we call popularization of science. This is by no means an easy job, and science and its promoters use all possible ways to achieve this, from conveying scientific achievements in “normal”, ordinary language, through popular lectures, exhibitions, public experiments, interactive exhibitions and festivals of science, to involving the general public in some form of serious scientific research, known as citizen science. It all comes down to how to explain to non-scientists that science is beautiful. This is a moment where science and art – two seemingly disparate fields – come together.

From time immemorial, arts and sciences have been connected, imbued similar ideas, inspiring each other. Certainly astronomy stands out in this, one of the fundamental sciences along with philosophy and mathematics, which undoubtedly inspires the entire human race, including arts. There is no person who would remain indifferent when facing a clear night sky full of stars. It is therefore not surprising that the project “Art & Science” offers among other prizes a residency stay at one of the world’s best observatories in Chile, where it looks as if the stars have come down to earth. The idea of ​​this project is to produce art inspired by science, which can be realized through powerful modern technologies, but also with a very easy approach, such as making music by using swings and gravity.

Art reaches everyone, causing different feelings and impressions, and science likewise wants to reach everyone and to inspire the desire for knowledge. Hence the intention to use art, as a universal language of society, in order to promote science.

dr Dragana Ilić,

Assistant professor at the Department of Astronomy, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Belgrade