The two lovers

*Photo by Lisa Mansfield from Melbourne Music Week gig – Wednesday 16th November 2016 at Carlton Connect Initiative Lab14 Gallery …

Here is a photo from The Gene Tree Project’s recent premier performance. We had such a wonderful evening playing to a full house. If you didn’t get to see us, don’t worry we have more gigs in the pipeline. We’ll let you know as soon as details are confirmed.

In the meantime, join our mailing list by filling in your details at the Contact Us page and you’ll be the first to know.

And now on with the show…

The two lovers.

In our last article we quoted the actor/writer/living legend Alan Alda, who likened the sciences and the arts as long lost lovers. You can see his full address to the National Press Club here.

When we heard this speech we realised here at The Gene Tree Project that what we’ve been doing is reuniting these two distinct, beautiful and compatible souls.

As we said in our first article, the arts and the sciences have more in common that you might initially think. Both artists and scientists look at our world and ask, ‘How does this world work?’, ‘How do we fit into this world?’ and then quite often, ‘How can we make this world better?’.

These lovers weren’t always so estranged. Once there was a time when learned men and women were expert polymaths – equally schooled in the sciences and the arts/philosophy. There have been many famous examples throughout our history.

Here are just some of our favourites.

The Greek Hypatia lived in Egypt at the turn of the fifth century. She was a mathematician, astronomer and philosopher who taught her students to observe and question the world and its heavens.

Galileo lived in the seventeenth century; a famous physicist, astronomer, engineer, philosopher, mathematician and musician. His theories provide the cornerstone for so much of our understanding of the universe today.

And finally, the perfect personification of the Renaissance passion for the well-rounded individual – the genius da Vinci, who evolved our understanding of engineering, paleontology and anatomy with an artist’s eye.

So when did these two lovers lose touch?

It wasn’t until the 19th century that the term ‘scientist’ was coined. Until that time this group of individuals were called ‘Natural Philosophers’. While the individual sciences like Biology, Physics and Chemistry etc. were easily identifiable, and artists were obviously an established community, perhaps it is in the creation of this title ‘scientist’ that contributed to the two lovers drifting apart?

Each one found their passion and reward in their specialisation. Each one developed their own particular language that set it apart. And perhaps this encouraged the general public to choose sides and for schools to separate students according to their different talents?

However the separation and specialisation occurred, both the sciences and the arts have since suffered from the same misconceptions. For many in society, the arts and sciences are perceived as elite, intellectual and inaccessible. But in reality both the arts and the sciences help tell the story of who we are and where we come from. They also ask where are we now, and where are we heading?

The obvious distinction is in the language or the vocabulary that the two disciplines use. It is this sharing of language that has been so rewarding and inspiring for us within The Gene tree Project.

To explain the purpose of her craft, Elissa loves to paraphrase one of her favourite theorists Arnold van Gennep. She says, “we tell stories about ourselves, to ourselves, in order to understand ourselves.”

In this evolving world with its changing climate, and an irrational fear of the unknown and the other, we threaten to limit our learning if we don’t embrace all that the sciences and the arts can tell us.

At The Gene Tree Project we are speaking up for the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. We are embodying the beautiful reconciliation of the sciences and the arts and we would like to share that passion and its stories with you.

But what do you think?

We invite you to tell us below how you understand the relationship of the sciences and the arts…

Written by Cressida Bradley and Elissa Goodrich, inspired by The Gene Tree Project team.

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