In his writings about what he described as “the two cultures,” the novelist and civil servant C. P. Snow described what he saw as an intellectual chasm between individuals qualified in science and those trained in the humanities in mid 20th-century Britain. He argued that scientists knew more about the arts than arts graduates knew about science, pointing out that very few individuals who lacked scientific training could understand—or even quote—the laws of thermodynamics.
Things are different today. Arts majors may still be unfamiliar with thermodynamics, but many of them feel comfortable with the products of modern computer and communications technology; it’s not uncommon for professional artists to integrate coding, 3D printing, and other technologies into their processes and products. Sculptor Scott Kindall, for example, has an understanding of code and looks for ways to combine it with his sculptural métier. Jeffrey Thompson, director of the Visual Arts and Technology program at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, has a similar background. “As an artist, a lot of my work is about technology, involving personal and poetic relationships,” he says. “I use a lot of technical tools in my work, writing a lot of code, using tools in a functional way, and exploring them from a critical perspective.”
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Volume 60, Issue 1, January-February 2017