Preface and Introduction


It is interesting to inquire why the photographs of the Dortmund group presented in this exhibition arouse such pleasure and interest. The play with graphics and shapes goes back to the very origin of mankind. It is one of the great testimonies to human evolution over thousands of centuries to see how artifacts produced by man have become progressively both more functional and aesthetically more appealing. Art and science have never been divorced.

In the rock paintings of Spain, we find numerous representations of concentric circles or spirals; curiously, on many "pi's" (the ritual jades of neolithic China representing heaven), we again find engraved hexagons and spirals — precisely the most prevalent nonequilibrium "dissipative" structures we discover today in physics and chemistry.

This exhibition marks an encounter. Science rediscovers man's dreams, and art, as conceived by Kandinsky, Klee, and Rothko, describes a cosmology in the making, a cosmology in which matter has encapsulated time.

Ilya Prigogine Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1977


The interrelationship between science and art is one of the most exciting chapters of cultural history. From Leonardo da Vinci to Diirer and on to modern times, history has led us to ever new intellectual adventures in art and science, which give us a continuous and ever more comprehensive understanding of the world around us.

From Constable, Ruskin, Matisse to Kandinsky's "Beitrag zur Analyse der malerischen Elemente," many modern artists have longed for a scientific approach to art; correspondingly, scientists have sought artistic inspiration from their work. Both scientific and artistic endeavors are initiated from a state of unstructured imagination and creativity. But soon there is a parting of the ways: since Kant published his "Kritiken," the criteria for the work of art and of science are classified and clearly separated; aesthetic information is subjective, while scientific information is objective and thus convertible. The separation of these categories — extensively deplored by Schiller — remains one of the major challenges of cultural reflection up to this day.

Science and art, though, have always shared methods and tools. Much as photography invaded the fine arts a century ago, we today witness the evolution of a fascinating computer art, a form of art which draws on the visualization of quantitative scientific data. The easy transition from two-dimensional to three-dimensional, perspective images illustrates the invasion of computer technology, which readily permits what men have dreamed of since Kepler and Dürer. Today, we are surprised by the aesthetic content of visualized "cold" scientific experiments and mathematical models and theories, and we discover that we can project scientific information into the language of art. This provides an aestheticized, and thus humanized, representation of most complex scientific phenomena, which leads us into a new world of imagination and creativity.

Benno Hess