Whenever we ascribe artistic qualities to nature or natural qualities to art, we overlook crucial distinctions. It is one thing to contemplate waves crashing on the shore, candle flames flickering, or swirling whitewater rapids; quite another to transform, transcribe, or depict those scenes in a work of art; and still another to let the physical phenomena per se—waves, instability,turbulence—contribute to the making of an art object. Whether representational or abstract, all art is, in essence, artifice. And while the physical properties of materials undeniably constrain what artists can accomplish, the creative process must transcend physics or else cease to be creative. The prerogative of artists is to shape their medium—be it liquid paint, colored sand, or molten bronze—according to an aesthetic vision, to intervene rather than yield to how materials would naturally behave. As Voltaire remarked, “le secret des arts est de corriger la nature” (the secret of the arts...
Painting with drops, jets, and sheets
Andrzej Herczyński, Claude Cernuschi, L. Mahadevan; Painting with drops, jets, and sheets. Physics Today 1 June 2011; 64 (6): 31–36. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.3603916
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