It’s very hard to separate all the facets that make up the area collectively known as The Arts. In fact I’d go so far as to say it’s impossible to. I don’t know anyone involved in any form of creative practice who operates within one area alone, devoid of inspiration and input from any other field. As a writer, I require art and theatre and music in order to remain engaged with my writing. I need my head full of historical references as much as I need it focused on the present. And I need to be around people with some form of creative energy in order to remain fully energised myself.
The most successful projects for me are the ones that acknowledge openly how all these areas feed off each other; how the graceful lines of a ballet’s choreography can be found in a Rodin sculpture, or the folds of a toga in a Greek tragedy. That sounds very windy and florid I think, but I do mean it. Nothing exists in isolation. Feelings and sensations are replicated and interpreted in ways that suit the medium in which the artist is working. An artist paints the vibrant colours of a butterfly’s wings; Marcel Marceau mimes the beauty in its final dying moments. Two different aspects of the same creature, both of which convey the rhythm and hum of life.
While I’ve never been able to say which of the arts I love the most, I have definitely always known that it was this area more than the sciences that I was most comfortable being a part of. And yet lately, some of the most exciting things I’ve stumbled across exist at the point where art and science converge – rogue taxidermy, video art, cyber poetry and projection mapping. I felt this coming together in a show I saw last week in Brisbane, John Aslanidis’ Sonic Network No. 15 at Edwina Corlette Gallery. Struck by the mesmerising work in the front window, I entered the gallery proper to see the rest of the exhibition. The works felt to me like a hybrid of avante-garde, Cubism, the study of orbital mechanics in space theory and the designs I used to make with my spirograph kit as a kid. There’s also something of the SBS test pattern in them, which I mean in a good way. I always loved that thing. Not being familiar with Aslanidis’ work, I welcomed an explanation of his practice. Turns out he has a background in electronic music, so the test pattern analogy isn’t hugely far off. The man who paints these psychedelic, 3D illusory canvases obviously has a vast understanding of acoustics, optics theory and geometry, as well as an ability to put together colour in a way that is genuinely invigorating. Optical art. Op art. Turns out it’s a thing.
Now, all of this is far outside my comfort zone. I flicked anything scientific or mathematical as soon as I was able in high school, and am the first to admit that when it comes to these areas I am a total boffin, but I do find something intrinsically beautiful in the way art and science soften each other when combined. It’s a shame that in areas such as education and politics the two disciplines are kept quite separate, because there really is a lot of benefit to be found in their merging. In Aslanidis’ work I begin to understand how nerdy friends of mine can love things like mathematics. I can even see how they come to see elegance in their theorems and axioms. I’m not about to become a physicist, god help the universe if I did, but there is an epic grace in these paintings that transcends both the scientific and artistic worlds to become something else entirely, something otherworldly and hypnotic.
It makes both sides of my brain engage with the world around me, and that can’t possibly be a bad thing.