Physical Aesthetics

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Transcript Physical Aesthetics

Physical Aesthetics:
Scientific Metaphors
and the Visual Arts
Steve Zides
Wofford College
[email protected]
Search for Truth
by René Magritte
Course Goals
1. To expose students to the major conceptual ideas arising in
Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Optics, and Relativity.
2. To humanize these topics by extending the physical
concepts into broader physical metaphors.
3. To critically examine how these physical metaphors get
used in the visual arts and pop-culture.
Class Structure
Tuesday (Scientific Concepts)
Thursday (Visual Counterparts)
Discuss the assigned reading from
the physics text
Discuss the assigned reading from
the art texts
View excerpts from science
documentaries (NOVA)
View excepts from pop culture
television (Futurama) or art
documentaries (Art 21)
Engage in collaborative group
Engage in class debates and peer
Example Topic:
Force (Physics)
- Aristotle’s ideas on Force and Motion
- Galileo’s thoughts on Motion and Inertia
: excerpt from Dialogs Concerning Two New Sciences
: experiment vs. thought experiment
- Newton’s theory’s on Force and Motion
: three laws of motion
: universal gravitation
: excerpt from NOVA Newton’s Dark Secrets
- Vectors and Vector Addition
- Free Body Diagrams
Example Topic:
Force (Art)
The Tragedy
The Death of Marat
by Michelangelo
by Pablo Picasso
by Jacques- Louis David
Example Topic:
Force (Art)
Mass as Weight or Heaviness
- “density of the sculptors medium”
- “complexity of the entire work”
- “emotional impact of the work”
Mass as a Measure of Inertia
- “personal inertia”
- “social or cultural inertia”
Mass in the Religious Sense
- “Catholic Mass”
by Michelangelo
Example Topic:
Force (Art)
Force as an Influence
- “forces of nature”
- “personal forces”
- “emotional forces”
- “Newton’s Laws
as possible laws of
human behavior”
Force as Violence
- “might makes
The Tragedy
by Pablo Picasso
Example Topic:
Force (Art)
Vector as a Physical Object
- ”Knife that killed Marat”
- “Arrow of Odysseus”
Vector as a Direction
- “personal fate or destiny”
- “evolution of a society”
- “narrative of history”
The Death of Marat
by Jacques- Louis David
Assessment Strategies
Traditional Strategies
Quizzes, Class Participation, Lab Reports
Non-Traditional Strategies
Art Analysis Essays, Integrated Exams
Example Art Essay:
Pick an artwork, from The Art Book, which exemplifies a mechanical
metaphor (i.e. position, velocity, acceleration, force, mass, etc.). Create a
500 – 1000 word essay discussing how the artist uses this metaphor. If you
like, you may compare and contrast a metaphor used in two separate
artworks. You may also discuss several related metaphors that occur in a
single work.
One student selected to
write about the velocity
metaphor in Coming from the
Mill by L. S. Lowry
Example Test Question:
Look at the following painting by Joseph Turner. The work, entitled The Fighting
Temeraire depicts the period in naval history when both the seasoned sailing ship
and the proto-steam ship shared the coastal waterways. Answer one of the
following questions:
i) How are the motional
concepts of position,
velocity, and acceleration
represented in the
ii) How does the painting
utilize the physical
metaphors of work and
Mathematical Adaptations?
Countable Sets
Composition with
Red, Blue, and Yellow
Sunday Afternoon on the
Island of La Grande Jatte
by Piet Mondrian
by Moholy-Nagy
by Georges Seurat
Physical Aesthetics:
Scientific Metaphors
and the Visual Arts
Steve Zides
Wofford College
[email protected]
Time Transfixed
by René Magritte