Art, Science, and Cultural Understanding

Art and science are often seen in contemporary Western society as almost entirely separate and polarised fields of human enterprise. In contrast, a growing number of practitioners are realising that art and science are both intimately concerned with how we conceive of the world around us; not just as individuals, but also as societies. Art and science share a common embodied imagination, cognitive creativity, and independent spirit of inquiry at their heart, and both can summon up the visionary power of revolution for our senses. The editors and contributors to this book clearly highlight the many underlying themes that have always connected art and science throughout our history and show, through a range of essay styles and voices, how a hybrid art-science movement is now emerging. This new movement offers a broader transdisciplinary perspective to avoid relying on narrow specialisms and short-term fixes when addressing growing global problems such as climate change, economic instability, and provision of food, water, and healthcare for a rapidly expanding world population. Practitioners, researchers, and students in the arts, sciences, and humanities will all find much in this volume to stimulate and inform new ways of thinking about their own disciplinary approaches.

Camel Hair Tattoo Art of Pakistan: Analysis of its Symbols and Motifs

The unique and mystifying camel hair tattoo art practiced in the remote desert of Cholistan, Pakistan is a distinctive blend of art, philosophy, and mysticism. The artists make beautiful motifs by cutting the hairy coat of the camels. This technique involves cutting rough and coarse hair of the camel with scissors in multiple stages to make patterns and symbols covering the entire body of the camel. Later, the hair-tattoo artists adorn the tattooed camels further by applying natural red and black henna dyes to these geometrical and vegetal motifs. The embellishment of these camels pays homage to their beloved Sufi, who stands as their symbol of the Divine mercy. Seeking spiritual enlightenment, the owners bring these beautiful camels with them when visiting the shrines of the Sufis.

This book also explores the roots of the symbols and motifs used in this unknown art. Some of the fascinating discoveries include striking similarities with the motifs of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization and prehistoric rock art, pointing to the continuation of the art heritage since times immemorial. These desert pastoralists and nomads, living in isolation in the deprived and pitiable region of Cholistan, carry a rich and abounding heritage and tradition in the form of camel hair tattoo art which the world should know, understand, protect, and promote.

Seeking Engagement: The Art of Richard Kamler

Art, for Richard Kamler, is active: it does something. What it does may be personal; it is also, in most of Kamler’s work, political, social, often collaborative, and always seeking to engage us as participants. If any statement could encapsulate Richard Kamler’s full and diverse body of work over four decades it would be the assertion that art acts as a corrective to that failure of imagination declared by Robert McNamara that caused the tragic wars of the 20th century. What art does is provide a vision, an opening, the potential for a real transformation—not just of consciousness, but in the words of Kamler’s early mentor Frederick Kiesler, “With art we can change the laws of the world.” And with steady conviction Richard Kamler’s art rouses us to see beyond our conditioned reactions—to challenge apparently unbendable realities with the possibility: imagine how it could be different. What if Picasso had painted Guernica before the bombs fell? The works in this retrospective volume span Richard Kamler’s productive career, ranging from Out of Holocaust (1976), a full-size reconstruction of a barracks from Auschwitz, to the Table of Voices (1996–2013), installed on Alcatraz Island and traveling throughout the United States, to Seeing Peace (2002–present), a continent-spanning collaboration with international artists and the United Nations, to The Tower of Babel (in progress), which explores the origins of language and proposes building a literal tower at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.


Review:

"Conscience, vision, play. All collaborate in Richard Kamler's unique conceptual art. His goal is process; all his work is in process, a process that continues in the awakening observer and her life thereafter. His goal is community, engaging antagonistic groups in shared experiment. A Table of Voices invites visitors to take the seat of a prisoner and listen to the recorded voice of a victim, or to sit in the victim's seat to hear the perpetrator's story. A piece commissioned by a New Haven synagogue invites Muslim to break bread with Jew over a tablecloth which interweaves strips of Koranic and Talmudic texts. (The synagogue rejected the finished product.) Kamler's tables offer confrontation and fresh nourishment. He goes beyond tables, by inviting artists around the world to paint their vision of peace on billboards, for example, or by planting metal silhouettes of bison on the grounds of a San Francisco prison. His work is “an ongoing act of tikkun olam, the Hebrew phrase for the effort to heal the world,” as Mark Van Proyen, the editor of Seeking Engagement: The Art of Richard Kamler, puts it.


-Bell Gale Chevigny
[Editor, Doing Time, 25 Years of Prison Writing, A PEN American Center Anthology]"