The Mezzanine

Leaving the Lower Gallery, readers enter a Mezzanine that provides background information on aesthetics, bird art, and
nature. Here are some excerpts:

Thinking about Aesthetics, the Oldest Bird Paintings, and Painting Nature

The linkage of science and art has historical as well as contemporary origins in the pictorial archive, which raises a question: Does linking the two cast doubt on the often-cited “Two Cultures” theme of C. P. Snow that modern scientists and artists are members of opposing cultures that do not exchange much information?[1] David Edwards, in Artscience (Harvard University Press, 2008), finds the traditional line between these two cultures still firmly drawn and argues eloquently for a new intellectual milieu that will be an interdisciplinary catalyst for innovation and creativity. Others find the boundary more porous...

[1] Snow, Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, 3–4, 17. In 1959, C. P. Snow proposed that scientists and artists are members of non-exchanging, opposing cultures. He blamed much of the split on a century long flood of scientific information—one that left a waterline so high it effectively blocked communication with anyone outside one’s scientific specialty, let alone across the science-art divide.

© 2008 Darryl Wheye and Donald Kennedy


Thinking about Aesthetics

Repeatedly, those who have made their mark in science
describe the work as part imagination, part logic...

When artists capture our attention and draw us in, they
seem to take one or more of three approaches...

Thinking about the Oldest Paintings of Birds

When it comes to technical skill and style, what can
we conclude about the oldest wall art? To answer this
question the art historian Sir Ernst Gombrich (1909–
2001) wrote: "We now know that more than 30,000
years ago ice age artists had acquired a complete
mastery of their technical means, presumably based
on a tradition extending much further into the past.
This tradition had equipped them with serviceable
conventions in the rendering of various species, but
it had not prevented them from branching out on their own—witness the unique portrayal of an owl..."

Thinking about Portraying Nature

Why can’t painters just sit down and paint nature,
recording what they see the best they can? We
return again to Gombrich, "The simple demand that
they should “paint what they see” is self-contradictory. . . ."

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