ID and Fine Art ... well, it's all relative I suppose

One of the twenty-year goals of the Discovery Institute's Wedge was to see the influence of "design theory" in the fine arts. I've often wondered what that could possible mean. And now, thanks to Access Research Network's "ID Arts Initiative" I now know.

In today's ARN Announce (it's not online yet), Dennis Wagner presents his vision of "the Right-Brain approach to intelligent design":

Our worldview impacts all areas of life including the arts. The arts also reflect philosophical and cultural trends in human societies. If intelligent design philosophical and scientific concepts are valid, we believe they will both inspire, and be reflected in, our art, music, literature and film. Much of the focus of the ID movement to date has been on left-brain activities (logical, sequential, rational, analytical, objective, focused on parts). We believe there is also a right-brain approach to the issues (more intuitive than logical, and focused on the creative process) that may speak to an even wider audience through the arts. Some people who might never crack a science book, will grasp ID concepts through image, lyric, or prose.

I don't think we can really call the "Left-Brain approach" as exemplified by ID supporters as "logical, sequential, rational, analytical, objective," but I'll leave that alone for now.

Says Jody Sjogren, BS Zoology, MS medical illustration, illustrator for Wells' execrable Icons of Evolution, director of IDnet of Ohio, and primarily an aviation artist :

[H]ow, then, do we describe the origin of life, with all of its complexity and diversity? Was it merely a thoughtless, random chemical process that did not have anything in mind?

In my view, the experience of human creativity gives us a logical, 'proof-positive experience' for answering this question. When we consider the origin of life from our perspective as artists, architects, and engineers, it appears that an awfully big creative thought preceded the universe and the life within it (not to mention the will and ability to act on the thought). As with art, architecture, and engineering, a logical explanation suggests that Mind Preceded Matter. This is the essence of intelligent design."

Who needs science when you can have aviation artists and architects solve the big problems.

Wagner continues:

We would like to explore these concepts and offer a line of ID-inspired art, music, literature and film products. We do not mean to imply that ID art is produced in a particular way, or even has a particular look or feel to it. We are simply looking to create a "brand" of artists who are connected in some way to the concept that there is a design to life that transcends the randomness of the neo-Darwinian (or materialist) worldview and that their art somehow emanates from or reflects an ID-friendly worldview.

Just as ID is portrayed by some as the bridge between science and theology, we view the arts we feature in a similar way. Somewhere between the secular and the sacred. The art does not have to make any obvious statement about anything, but if it does, the lyrics, images and product descriptions might offer hints about the designed nature of the world around us.

Wagner gives three examples of "ID art". The first is a painting of a SR-71 Blackbird and a raven (cute, eh?) by Sjogren: "With variable-geometry wings; on-board maintenance, repair, and refueling systems; and even the ability to reproduce itself, the Raven compels us to consider that intelligent design is as logical an explanation for the origin of living systems as it is for man-made machines." Umm.

The second is a watercolor of a split rock in Colorado. Wagner notes that "[s]ome might wander upon this scene and only see random patterns of nature. As an artist operating in an intelligently designed world, Chris [Wolley, the artist] finds purpose." Eh? Purpose? In a naturally split rock? Wolley apparently sees the purpose: "[the split] is large enough to provide shelter in a time of storm or a solid foundation if one chooses to spend time there." God does indeed move in mysterious ways.

The third example is a cartoon by Chuck Asay, that I reproduce below. Nuff said.


There's also ID music and fiction ... but I've run out of energy for this tenious dreck.

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I can't believe how many laugh outloud moments I have while visiting this blog and the other Seed blogs that are following the IDiocy movement. This is really "I couldn't make this stuff up" material.

Courtesy of my pal Louis, art from the other end of the ideological spectrum.

By Sean Storrs (not verified) on 05 Jul 2006 #permalink

At the risk of taking a short cut to Godwin's Law, hasn't this already been tried before?

The phrase "National Socialism" springs to mind.

It strikes me as odd that they would use the word 'intuitive' when the folks at Uncommondescent are so happy to point out the very intuitive nature of design detection. "This looks very designed to me" is often a good enough rationale.

The Chuck Asay cartoon is quite a laugh. So much hard work to so little purpose! He sure didn't use much imagination in drawing NCSE as a timid little lurker in the background. I'd suggest Eugenie Scott in Amazon gear, raining flaming arrows down on the heads of the ID Visigoths. At least Asay got the "Visigoths" part right. A barbarian rabble.

Not that it matters much...the SR-71's wings are not variable geometry, the engine inlets are somewhat variable geometry. The on-board maintenance, repair, and refueling systems are comparable to similar aircraft. I didn't know a SR-71 had the ability to reproduce itself.

'As with art, architecture, and engineering, a logical explanation suggests that Mind Preceded Matter. This is the essence of intelligent design.'

What a facile argument. I can create a picture of a landscape, so the landscape itself must have been created? And how does a 'mind' exist without matter? ID really is a massive non-explanation. Still I suppose if you're already in direct conversation with the big G, it's good enough.

By Tycho the Dog (not verified) on 06 Jul 2006 #permalink

tacitus says:

"At the risk of taking a short cut to Godwin's Law, hasn't this already been tried before?

The phrase "National Socialism" springs to mind."

That's why I refer to the current dominant political party as the "National Socialist Christian Debtors Party." Another variation is "National Socialist Fundamentalist Quack Party."

What's funny-- or not-- is that both of those phrases accurately describe the philosophy and policy of the party.

By AdamIerymenko (not verified) on 06 Jul 2006 #permalink

IDers have been mucking around in the "fine arts" all along. Every rational, logical, legal or factual argument they lose, every time they make asses of themselves, is "street theater," remember?

The first is a painting of a SR-1 Blackbird

That's an SR-71.

If intelligent design philosophical and scientific concepts are valid, we believe they will both inspire, and be reflected in, our art, music, literature and film.

B does not follow from A. I don't see how the validity of the philosophical and scientific arguments has anything to do with their ability to inspire art.


Typo on my behalf. Yes, it is SR-71. Fixed.

By John Lynch (not verified) on 06 Jul 2006 #permalink

You're gotta give some grudging respect to the triumphalist "raging Visigoths" metaphor in that cartoon. They really are trying to drag the world into a new dark age. And if they (and their global equivalents) succeed, mankind may only recover--after what may be decades or centuries of enforced ignorance--when it once again begins to build upon the knowledge and culture they're now doing their damndest to tear down.

NCSE isn't cowering in the background, it's directing the opposition. Sort of like Kenny in that South Park episode where Kenny defends Heaven from the forces of Hell by directing the forces of Heaven with a golden Sony PSP. We're about to drop boiling oil full of this paper on the battering ram.

The idea that art might be related to science (and pseudoscience) isn't quite so daft as it might appear at first. There is an article, "Ways of seeing," by Jonathan Jones, that claims a connection between the rise of the Baroque (and the resultant decline in Italian art) and the persecution of Galileo and the end of the Italian Renaissance. Of course, the baroque Rome of Urban VIII had Bernini to ease the pain of the decline while Intelligent Design can only offer cartoons.

Foggg says: We longtime cogniscenti of IDCism have known ARN is selling ID apparel and merchandise.

Some of this merchandise claims, in part, that,"Toasters are intelligently designed." After fishing bagels out of toaster slots, discovering that my toaster hash browns are still stone cold in the middle after a full toasting cycle and ending up with waffles that are burnt yet, somehow, not warm enough to melt butter, I can unequivocally state that this claim is not true. :) In fact, the only evidence I've ever seen to the contrary is on the BBC Sci-Fi Comedy Red Dwarf.

Why sing smug tunes of all-knowledge? Can't one learn more from those who disagree? Can't one flesh out more clarity in one's views by evaluating other points of view?

Digs and ridicule fill up sentences but do not advance understanding or logical arguments.

Wishing for a star blog with well-written sentences....

As both a scientist (M.Sc. in Geology and 25+ years in science management) and an artist (see, I use my scientific knowledge constantly in setting up paintings, especially for understanding light, movement, and complex perspectives. Even though I incorporate the surreal into many of my works, these flights of fancy can in no way be considered as representing or being inspired by "intelligent design".

The concepts underlying "Intellignet Design" are found in ancient Occidental theology and in the "pagan" writings of Aristotle. So if the "theory of evolution" is athiestic, then "intelligent design" is paganistic. Science and art are not shackled to any religion.

By Kenneth Schmitz (not verified) on 09 Jul 2006 #permalink