“Art is meant to disturb, science reassures.”
– Georges Braque
It may sound contrary, odd and… disturbing to think that art is “meant to disturb”. Not the usual way to talk about our old revered friend. What’s going on here?
All visual art captures and extracts a moment in time from the incessant flow of our lives. It represents a break in the continuity of our experience. It remains frozen in perpetuity and serves as a gentle (or not) speed bump on our everyday road.
Art presents a veneer, a superficial view of the depth of reality. We look at the work of art and our mind and imagination adds the ingredients that supply the dimension to what we see. We provide the context, the story, the meaning, the narrative. The art is the trigger but we (the viewers) do the work.
Science, on the other hand, reassures us because it’s purpose is to explain everything. It tries to make sense of all things so that we do not have to figure out the story ourselves. We can sit back and be told, rather than assume the burden of providing the explanations.
Science seeks to preserve and enhance the continuity of our world, while art can’t help but intervene, stop us short and “disturb” our complacency. In the world of science, we rely on the scientists – we don’t have to go into the lab ourselves. In the world of art, we’re all lab assistants and it can be hard work.