Flowing; Art and Science and Music and Dance

By Jo Phillips

8 MinutesAlexander Whitley Dance Company — 8 Minutes @ Sadler’s Wells copyright Johan Persson.

Up until a few years ago, most people accepted that science and art were diametrically opposed to one another. The debate and argument seemed broadly related to the now outdated view that science and religion oppose each other.

The change in public understanding is everywhere.

You can now study a BASc in Arts & Sciences at University College London and an MA in Art & Science at Central Saint Martins – both institutions recognised globally for their exceptional research contributions. In fact, one of the most respected and forward thinking art blogs – We Make Money Not Art – focuses directly on the intersection between art, science and social issues.

Really, thinkers have been trying to debunk the fallacy of ‘art vs science’ for a while now; even Richard Dawkins defended the arts against this misinterpretation. In Unweaving the Rainbow Dawkins attacks John Keats’ accusation that Issac Newton had ruined the poetry of the rainbow by ‘reducing it to the prismatic colours.’ As a scientist and an atheist, Dawkins explains that he sees the world as full of wonders and pleasures and that understanding the processes of the rainbow, (the science of it all) beauty and grandeur are only intensified. It’s this kind of pleasure and wonderment that affects artists who respond to science.

Peculiar though it may seem, David Attenborough’s nature documentaries like Life and Planet Earth illustrate the kind of bond nature and art can hold. The mastery of cinematography, the slow-motion shots, the colour rendering and correcting accompanied by Attenborough’s enchanting and poetic voiceover creates a visual and sonic experience. It makes us want to explore, to adventure. Really, what we are getting is a romanticized and bastardized picture of nature. But there’s nothing wrong with that. We often understand photography as a medium of objective truth, which is one of the reasons Attenborough’s documentaries affect us in such an emotive manner. They are outstandingly Baroque.

But let’s branch out.

Alexander Whitley Dance Company — 8 Minutes

The Sadler’s Wells theatre in Islington are showing the world premiere of 8 Minutes, with visuals by Bafta-award winning video designer and director Tal Rosner. This is the Alexander Whitley Dance Company main stage debut, taking the epic scale of space for this experimental performance. This is an immersive synthesis of dance, film and music, with a specially created score by the electroacoustic music innovator Daniel Wohl. The collaboration goes beyond conservative dance, democratizing the stage, drawing new and younger audiences to the platform. Tal uses imagery and research from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory to inform his designs. The work explores the spectacular images of space we are all familiar with but reinterprets them in a new light.

The show is in the Sadler’s Wells on the 27th and the 28th of June.

Get tickets here.

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