Mary Lou Jepsen On The Science of Art and The Art of Science

Question: What is the interplay between art and science in your work?

Jepsen:  Art is about technology too.  I mean the great artists were technical over history.  Leonardo or, boy, whatever you think of, Ansel Adams was also a chemical engineer and I just did art because I thought honestly the electrical engineering curriculum, my parents were helping pay for college and they wanted me to get a degree in electrical engineering and I thought it would have suppressed-- it was suppressing every ounce of creativity I might have had and I’m not really saying I had much, but I sort of did art just for therapy because I think that in the early years in science or perhaps particularly in engineering education it’s quite a grind.  It’s really boring and I just remember like these incline planes.  I grew up on a farm and you’re supposed to study like how a box slid down an inclined plane with a certain friction and I just thought I’ve never seen a box slide down straight and the friction.  It always falls off the inclined plane in a different way.  Why doesn’t this model that?  And I was so frustrated with the way my experience was of the engineering curriculum.  I took the art and really it’s because I fell and I made my first hologram when I was a kid and wanted to understand about it from all sides.  But artist say-- it’s funny because I spent a lot of time in the art world after that. Artists say engineers solve problems other people give them to solve and artists say they solve their own problem.  They call engineers technicians and they include like MIT professors as technicians and I kept saying well “Don’t call an MIT professor a technician unless you intend to insult that person” but whatever.  It’s just different languages.  There’s a lot of the freedom in art combining with the techniques and skills that you learn in engineering that you can combine and I think that it makes a lot of sense to combine them.  A lot of people, especially young in college in the early years that are practicing art often don’t have much technical skill and they keep saying, “Well, we can’t have that because then it’ll delude my vision and I can’t do it.”  No, you can actually learn how to do it and then you’ll have a more informed vision.  So I sort of disagree but there’s a study, there was a study about artists showing-- some of the conceptual artists do their great work when they’re young and a lot of the artists that were more about technique, Cezanne for example did his best work when he was older and that there’s sort of the experimentalist versus the conceptual sort of, wow, a totally way to look at the world where the technique actually isn’t important.  It’s perhaps in fitting with that.  I wish I could remember.  There’s a book on it.  I can send you a link.  I can look it up.

Mary Lou Jepsen points out that the great artists of history were often scientists, and vice versa.

California wildfires death toll climbs to 50

Firefighters in California are still struggling to contain several wildfires nearly one week after they broke out.

(Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Hundreds of people are still missing after three wildfires spread across Northern and Southern California last week.
  • 48 of the 50 deaths occurred after the Camp Fire blazed through the town of Paradise, north of Sacramento.
  • On Tuesday night, a fourth wildfire broke out, though it's mostly contained.
Keep reading Show less

Too much sleep results in cognitive decline, researchers find

We know the dangers of too little sleep. Now for the other side of the story.

Photo: Vladislav Muslakvo / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Western University researchers found that sleeping over eight hours per night results in cognitive decline.
  • Oversleepers suffer similar difficulties on certain cognitive tests as those who sleep under seven hours.
  • Not all the news is bad: One night of oversleeping results in a cognitive boost.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less