AISkepticismVisual Art

AI: Academic Art Analysis

In the ninteenth century, academics had attempted to discern what was good, or high art by codefying and defining the process and subject matter for the work. Others rebelled and took art in new directions entirely disregarding process or protocol and are generally regarded more highly now than the academics. Some criticize skeptics for similar things: attempting to codify and apply logic to all things.

Does the skeptical process conflict with artistic creation? Are there parallels between the Academie and the skeptical community’s approach to art?

The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab community. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3pm ET.

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Ryan Consell is a skeptical artist, tap-dancing armorer, juggling scientist, rock-climbing writer, sword-fighting math teacher, uni-cycling gamer, fire-spinning academic and devout nerd. He has a Masters in Applied science, most of a bachelors in Fine Arts, and a very short attention span. He is the author of How Not to Poach a Unicorn and half of the masochistic comedy duo that is Creative Dissonance. Follow him on Twitter @StudentofWhim


  1. July 20, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Wow, what an interesting question. Off the top of my head I’d say that the Academie thought that subjective value judgements were in fact objective truths where most modern skeptics understand the difference between objective truths and subjective truths. If someone where to tell me that I need to cite a peer reviewed paper to justify my artistic decisions I’d laugh at them. So no, skepticism doesn’t conflict with my artistic expression.

  2. July 20, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Science and art have such different types of methods/processes, I really don’t see them conflicting. It would be difficult to do art via the scientific method, just as it would be impossible to do science using the same steps we use in art.
    Though I do think you can look at art skeptically and make judgements on the result, I think the process is pretty much individualized.

  3. July 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I would argue exactly the opposite lena: art and science use exactly the same methodology to arrive at their end-points: observation followed by experimentation.

    The fundamental difference between the two is that the purpose of science is to find answers whereas the purpose of art is to ask questions.

  4. July 20, 2011 at 4:07 pm


    That only works superficially. Science does not get to its end point only by observation & experimentation. There are many more steps which are not incorporated into art.

    A piece of art may have a very detailed creation process that relied on observation, testing techniques, research & finally production. Or you can jump to the last step cover your body in pain and roll around on a canvas. It may still be art but if you do that in science… well you ain’t doing science.

    Art may incorporate the scientific process but it does not need too. So no there is no conflict.

    “The fundamental difference between the two is that the purpose of science is to find answers whereas the purpose of art is to ask questions.”

    This sounds catchy but I don’t think it has any real meaning. Science is about more than answers; it is about asking questions, exploring the universe and trying to answer the questions. Art can ask questions, it can also just be a statement or it can be nothing but a representation of an object. Art is free of all constraints except those you give yourself.

  5. July 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    This not exactly an answer to the question, but it reminds me of some problems I’d had with one particular professor.

    It was my first figure drawing class that I had taken, and also my first class with this professor (who was also my adviser). When he would give me advice in class, it would be full of this hippy-dippy language. “Capture the soul, not the structure,” etc, etc. Lots of use of the words “soul”, “essence”, and all these other words that I associate as new-age catch phrases. Obviously, these words just rang in my head automatically as bullshit, so it was hard for me to grasp what he was trying to say. I was so frustrated between the shitty work I was making and the non-advice I was getting. It took me forever to be able to translate what he was saying, which was essentially “Stop drawing so stiffly.” But after a few weeks of classes, we finally learned how to communicate with each other.

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