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The Role of Art in Science

2010
de JONG, Taeke M.
The study of architectural, urban and related technical design struggles with its context sensitivity hampering a contextless and categorybound scientific generalization. Many concepts describing design issues are different from the categories and variables of empirical science. Incomparable categories such as ‘strong’, ‘useful’ and ‘beautiful’ have to be combined in design. These combinations cannot be expressed in a ‘statement-based’ scientific discourse. Design annoyingly jumps through its sentences and statements that unroll primarily in time. Images are indispensible in communicating the spatial diversity observed or intended. Materializing spaces allows contradictions, but it is not irrational. It only transcends the categories of verbal language and classical logic. It uses the sources of imagination in a rational, but not always in a logical, and certainly not in a predictable way. Art shifts the boundaries of imagination. And imagination is the foundation of both science and design. Art transcends categories into new imaginations. New imaginations are required to find new categories as components of a composition. Design restricts itself to realizable imaginations. Its boundary is ‘possibility’, whereas science restricts itself to ‘probability’. Science is a human design, and design is an art. So, even science is an art, a human creation. After all, probability supposes possibility and that supposes imagination. Imaginations and designed instruments often have preceded scientific progress. Design is not a part of science, but science is a part of design. It is in particular a part of the realization of a design. That shows the advantage of a scientific education for designers. It makes them less vulnerable in the company of specialists. A design concept will weigh up and integrate advice from the specialists. And these advices are often contradictory. Diverging specializations result in an archipelago of sciences, no longer criticizing each other. That is why science falls in the public’s esteem. But, here is still a demand for imagination. That is the role of art and design.