Art as science.

RISD president John Maeda, writing in Seed Magazine, makes the case for including art education in our quest for better science:

Public commitments to STEM—science, technology, engineering, math—education abound all over the country. In the government’s mind, these subjects are the key to innovation. As a lifelong STEM student myself, with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT, I am certainly not one to diminish its value. Yet in recent years even supremely dedicated geeks like me have begun to question the advances that come from purely technological innovation.

Artists do research with an open-mindedness and rigorous inquiry unseen in most other disciplines, except true science. They systematically and visually survey the world of ideas, objects, and experiences for inspiration by rummaging through it with their bare hands….[At the Rhode Island School of Design] the story of someone’s work more often comes from a first-hand journey through many emotional worlds, rather than an analysis of an online slideshow of poorly photographed experiences.

And so I’ve begun to wonder recently whether STEM needs something to give it some STE(A)M—an “A” for art between the engineering and the math to ground the bits and bytes in the physical world before us, to lift them up and make them human.