The Intersection

Science Is Art: Look Closer

A dragonfly at Bako National Park, Borneo where there are 275 named species recorded and many more yet to be discovered. Forty percent are endemic to the region.
~ Nicolas Devos, Biologist and Wildlife Photographer

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In the latest issue of Seed magazine, our scibling Jonah Lehrer postulates ‘The Future of Science…Is Art?

In order to answer our most fundamental questions, science needs to find a place for the arts within the experimental process.

But maybe science already is art. The two have always been so intricately connected, they are fundamentally aspects of the same entity. Culture. Life. Now and then I’m reminded of their intersections when I run into scientists like Nicolas Devos.

Nicolas is a post-doc from the the National Research Foundation of Belgium who studies evolution, phylogeny and phylogeography of land plants. He is currently a visiting scholar at Duke working on bryophytes after spending two years in South Africa studying Asteraceae. But that’s only the surface… one part of the story.

Nicolas also has a passion for wildlife photography. I came across his work by chance last year and was immediately captivated and inspired. You see, while I’ve known many professional photographers featured in magazines and galleries, his images stand out as special because they capture ephemeral moments in nature through the eyes of a biologist.

Art meets Science at the Intersection of Life and Culture.

I hope readers will join me in welcoming Nicolas Devos to The Intersection. Over the next week I will share more of his unbelievable photographs. Click here for another amazing image over at Correlations.

Comments

  1. #1 CS
    January 16, 2008

    Wow! Beautiful work Dr. Devos. I can see the hairs on its legs and the eyes are unreal. Does Nicolas have a website?

  2. #2 Linda
    January 16, 2008

    The photos are great… I feel that I could reach out and touch them.
    More please.

  3. #3 Chris C. Mooney
    January 16, 2008

    Welcome, Nicolas. Welcome indeed. Amazing picture–and your work is just the kind of innovative stuff that we want to feature here at the Intersection in 2008. We’re proud to have you.

  4. #4 Scott Belyea
    January 16, 2008

    But maybe science already is art. The two have always been so intricately connected, they are fundamentally aspects of the same entity. Culture. Life. Now and then I’m reminded of their intersections when I run into scientists like Nicolas Devos.

    Well, I wonder. My impression is that there’s some pretty sloppy logic here.

    The fact that’s he’s a biologist is irrelevant, I suggest. He’s a photographer, and the only “science” connection in that photo is the science that underlies the technologies used in photography. Science didn’t build the dragonfly; science didn’t set up and take the photo.

    Look at it this way – if the picture had been taken by a retail sales clerk whose hobby was photography, would that mean that there’s less of a “science connection”? I can’t see how.

    In fact, by postulating that “science is art,” you could be accused of denigrating his accomplishment. If it’s art, it’s due to Devos’s vision and technical skill. Science doesn’t enter into it.

  5. #5 Philip H.
    January 16, 2008

    This is such an awesome picture. can we get like 2 dozen of these for future viewing? Maybe a permanent image library on the intersection we can refer to when our spirits are down?

  6. #6 Lou
    January 17, 2008

    These photos are amazing.I wonder is it realy possible to take so good picture?

  7. #7 Marc
    January 17, 2008

    I agree with Scott.

    In particular that article is non sensical. Science and art are simply different spheres. The authors garbage about how science doesn’t always move forward (citing classical to quantum physics) was a massive misunderstanding of the fact that a small correction to a measurement (i.e. an improvement) can have huge implications for the understanding of a theory.

    I understand that you believe people should interact more with science and that seems to be a valuable aim but i think that it can really only come by getting people to understand the value of scientific thinking rather than a “hey look at what this guy can do…isn’t that cool…and guess what…he’s a scientist” pseudo role model approach.

    Independently; the picture is amazing.

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