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A while back I stumbled upon this band called Art vs Science. It caught my attention because of the philosophical ideas I had floating around in my head at the time about the relationship between science and art. I wondered if the band thought that their music was somehow “versus” or opposed to science. This all lead to writing an exploratory essay in which I tried to suggest that science and art are in some sense “versus” each other because science is chiefly concerned with discovering reality as it truly is, whereas art may or may not be concerned with the world as it really is. I think that second point is especially true, but reflecting on that essay (which I deleted), I realize now that it was unnecessary and confusing to insert a “vs” into the equation. A clearer way to think about the ideal relationship between art and science is that they can (and often do) work in conjunction. Obviously, certain pieces of art may inspire new ideas in science. It’s said, for example, that Picasso’s cubist paintings helped physicist Niels Bohr reconceptualize the inner-workings of an atom. That may be true, but I think the relationship between science and art is even simpler: the first step is research (science); the second step is representing what was found (art). And it continues like that in an infinite feedback loop. Taking the broadest possible definition of art, even a scientific research article published in an academic journal is a piece of art, and it is a necessary and entangled part of the process.


Anyway, switching gears a bit… I was curious what the members of the band thought about it, so I e-mailed them and asked what the name Art vs Science means to them. It turns out their interpretation was pretty different from mine. But they did have some interesting things to say about it, ranging from their social message to their songwriting process. Here’s what guitarist Dan Mac had to say:

“The name means lot’s of things and oddly enough its meaning evolves with the views of the band.

 

One of the earliest meanings was a reference to the difference between the world as portrayed by culture and the media (art) and the world as it really is (science). I think to a large extent the world that is presented to us on TV etc is a highly, highly constrained version of reality that gives the impression that it encompasses the whole of reality. As passive viewers of this spectacle we begin to see no place for ourselves in this glamourous, scary and ultimately shallow and unfulfilling world except as a ‘consumer’ or victim.

 

One of the main reasons why our songs are generally weird is that we’re trying to present something which isn’t part of the general narrative. As such they are either intentionally stupid or they focus on a topic which is not a typical part of the story of our times (in the mainstream); So the lyrics are either fun-starting party jams or are inspired from science magazines, psychology texts, conspiracy theories and esoteric spiritual philosophies. Or sometimes both.

 

Art vs Science also refers to the method of creation of our music. It is part intuitively ‘inspired’ (art) and also informed by a study of the most popular songs in the last 30 years or so (science). Certain elements in music have been consistently present in songs which have had widespread success – tempo / rhythm / hooks.. It makes sense that, to a point where creativity can still flower, song writing should take lessons from the success of song writers of the past.”

So there you have it.

That’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about a band you’ve never heard of. But for what it’s worth, it’s refreshing to see a band who has a deeper idea behind their name and what they do, especially when, as they mentioned, there is so much superficiality in popular media culture. I also, by the way, kinda dig their music:

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