Saturday, October 15, 2005

Dark Matter in Art, in Writing

It's been a while since we talked science, and don't you worry, we'll get to writing too.
Today, I finally caught up on some of my science news of the past week.
Seems that I missed a lot of news about Dark Matter. To those unfamiliar, a quick explanation from Wikipedia:
In cosmology, dark matter refers to hypothetical matter particles, of unknown composition, that do not emit or reflect enough electromagnetic radiation to be detected directly, but whose presence can be inferred from gravitational effects on visible matter such as stars and galaxies.
Just to explain it a little bit further, or more plainly perhaps (and those who know better are welcome to add and correct), it was argued back in 1933 by Zwicky that the gravity of cluster galaxies is insufficient to hold it together, and that there must therefore be additional gravity from dark matter, or otherwise the cluster would fly apart.

One news item I missed seems to have given the final proof:
[...]an Israeli cosmologist showed that the existing model of elliptical galaxies was wrong, proving that dark matter was there all along.
(Of course that this still isn't a smoking gun, but it is sufficient to continue assuming in dark matter's existence).

Now let's switch gears. You may recall that two posts ago I questioned what is art. I claimed that art is beyond skill and beyond creativity. I claimed that art is something that combines all of these but I was hard pressed to find an exact definition. Then, in my comments, ObilonKenobi said that art is more than the sum of its parts.

Well, I think that's just it. What makes art art? What makes a good book art? Dark Matter.
That invisible, undetectable something that helps bind the sentences, the paragraphs, the ideas, the plot, the characters in a way that is more than simply the sum of its parts. Something we cannot necessarily pinpoint or see but that we can identify its existence when it is present. It helps bring a good book together and hold it there in what we call a work of art.

Maybe if scientists one day find a way to 'see' dark matter, that would also be the day in which we'll find a way to identify artistic dark matter.

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Jennifer said...

Do you think we'd really be able to find that 'artistic dark matter'. I always thought that each persons talent their 'dark matter' was unique to each person. It worked its own way for each different person. Though maybe that's the inspiration that works differently for everyone. And the actual talent is some how defined...

It's a tricky topic to discuss. I have a hard time putting thoughts into words and sentences that make sense and explain how I'm thinking. But I do like the terminology you've give this unexplainable: Artist Dark Matter!

Melly said...

Why thank you Jennifer.
I wasn't looking from the artist point of view, but rather from the spectator, reader point of view. I guess though you can also look at it from the artist's pov - identifying artistic dark matter for the artist's sake.

ObilonKenobi said...

As I am both a fan of art and science I appreciate the comparison of elusive Dark Matter in the universe to the "Dark Matter" that makes art special. There are some artists and artworks that just define a movement and even a generation. So many people have tried and failed to find that "It" factor, the "Dark Matter" that holds together all the elements that make something or someone a "Happening," a "Movement," or a "Defining Moment In a Generation." Believe me I have tried myself. I studied art and writing. I look for that combination of things that makes it happen. I don't think there is any scientific combination there is only a wispy elusive "thing." Unlike the Dark Matter that makes the gravity necessary to hold the universe together by just that much, the "Dark Matter" that makes art beautiful and inspiring will never be found or proved. That's why when I look at the universe and all the physics that define the laws of how things work I do believe that there is something more that we can never grasp or define.

Melly said...

That's why you're a Jedi master ;), ObilonKenobi - you're a believer.

I still hope for that one theory that could explain it all. I know I will never know it even if it is out there (which I'm not sure it is, in which case we revert back to your 'something more'), but I can hope.

Anonymous said...

An excellent post Melly. Dark Matter Art!

This makes art seem as mysterious and elusive as...perfection.

Melly said...

Thanks Easywriter. I was due for one...

I love how you put it :)

Anonymous said...

Melly, I have yet to read one of your posts that wasn't well thought out and wonderfully presented. You do very well!

Melly said...

oh, my. Blush.

Teh Blog Father said...

Melly:>What makes art art?

How about this definition:

"Everything sucks. That which is art, is art because it sucks less".

Melly said...

Ummmm, I like your aesthetics definition better.

dog1net said...

Perfect post to ponder over on such a rainy night. Robert Pirsig (Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) developed in an interesting argument in regard to how we recognize what we perceive as "art." As he says, "The sun of quality . . . does not revolve around subjects and objects of our existence. It does not just passively illuminate them. It is not subordinate to them in any way. It has 'created' them. They are subordinate to 'it'"
Even still, much to think about.
Enjoyed . . .

Melly said...

Whoa! I'll have to really think about that one. Very complicated concept.
Thanks Scot.

Teh Blog Father said...

Melly:>Ummmm, I like your aesthetics definition better.

LOL, I figured you would.

PS: Teh Blog Father = Eric Mutta ;-)

Teh Blog Father said...

PPS: the sentiment behind that less appealing definition above, comes again from the software world. Because the field is so young (about 60yrs old), the state of the art su-, I mean, is still rather shody.

melly said...

Eric, I know you're teh blog father. What'dya think???

I'm not certain I understood your last comment. Which field is young, software?

redchurch said...

Rather than Dark Matter I tend to view it as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. You can measure the state of an electron, it's spin or it's movement in time or space but not both at the same time.

To me this like story structure vs. active writing (plotting vs. drafting) - You can actively plot your story out, but while you do this you're not actively writing. You're just making plot points. All the plotting in the world won't get your story done, you still just have to write. But if I merely get lost in the flow of writing, my story may not have the cohesion, clarity, and compelling structure it needs.

So the two are at odds with one another, and you can't really do both simultaneously. At any given time you have to choose one or the other, or set a procedure or sequence that allows each to have their time and place.

It's a difficult balance that I feel applies to most forms of creativity. You have the theoretical, principles, structure, planning, and then you have the actual activity of creation which in many ways defies organization and classification.

I believe the two can be balanced, but I won't pretend finding the balance is easy. ;)

Teh Blog Father said...

Melly:>Eric, I know you're teh blog father. What'dya think???

Just checking [innocent smile].

Melly:>I'm not certain I understood your last comment. Which field is young, software?


Terry said...

Since art is so subjective, and each viewer has his or her own definition of what constitutes art (ie. paint daubs, graffitti or wrapping an island in plastic), are you saying that dark matter is also subjective, and may or may not actually exist depending on who "views" it?

Or did I not get the whole thing? (it happens...)

Melly said...

redchurch, I loved your analogy. So true.

Eric, you should read snowcrash. I think you'll like it. It's about the beauty in programming (among other things).

Terry, you assume I agree with you about the subjectivity of art. I don't really, and therefore don't think dark matter is subjective. I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to art... Sorry...

Mark said...

I love how you were able to take two, apparently, conflicting arenas – science and art – and blend them into one through the concept of black matter. Nicely done.

Actually it made black matter easier for me to grasp by doing that.

Terry said...

Hi Melly, no worries, I'm a bit of an art snob myself these days. We'll agree to disagree on that then.

Melly said...

Mark, wow. I think that this is one of the nicest things anyone's ever told me :)

Terry - agreed ;)

ObilonKenobi said...

Melly, BTW. I have to say your postings are great. SO much to talk about. I'm not sure art is meant to be grasped by any one person or theory. I think it a personal experience. Great art is a personal experience shared by many in the same way but different. I am not sure that someone who looks at a Cubistic painting gets the same evocative feelings that I do. There's a whole slew of history there some my own personal experience with the art, some I've read about the artist, some of the time it was created and some just ethereal and unable to be pinned down. I happen to be a big fan of Cubism and Picasso in particular. It's just my personal feeling. Many people share my opinion of his greatness but I highly doubt they share it in the same way because the teachers who introduced the art to me were not the same as well as the people I went to the museums with to view it for the first time. Great art can encompass a whole history into one painting and become something more, as I said.

Redchurch, "Rather than Dark Matter I tend to view it as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. You can measure the state of an electron, it's spin or it's movement in time or space but not both at the same time." Of course I love physics so I do love the analogy. This is my kind of forum where physics and art mix freely. I also agree that outlining and writing are like quantum mechanics. Great way to put that concept into perspective.

The Blog Father, yo’.

As for Dark Matter, I think the analogy is that it’s something that’s out there. We know it’s there but we can’t see it, describe it or tell you what it is exactly. That’s the same with art. What makes good art? We can’t really tell you but we’ll know it when it’s there and when it’s not there we know that too. Like Dark Matter we know it’s there because of what it does to the universe. We just know it’s there just like when we know art is good. I don't think the analogy goes as far as saying that Dark Matter is subjective. Of course to confuse you more, in Quantum Physics there is the theory that the observer makes the outcome by predicting what will happen. A state does not exist untill someone observes it until then it exists in a sort of non-state, and in-between. Observation makes reality. In that way the universe doesn't exist unless we are here to observe it and the paradox is that we aren't here unless the universe exists... OK my head hurts.

Melly said...

So much great material for next posts... :)

Thanks ObilonKenobi.

Anonymous said...

This is really a nice blog, one of the best I've seen.

Melly said...

My my :)
Thank you sdruthla