Thursday, August 2, 2012

Difference between science, art, and design

Art and Science
(Picture source:

Science, art, engineering, and design are all human activities that share some elements but are also distinguishable from one another.

-Boundary pushing

The basic difference between science, art and engineering/design lies in the goals of the activities.

-Science: Concrete (physical world) ----> Abstract (theories)
-A scientist sees an object or phenomenon and asks "How does it work?" -> Theory (to explain natural phenomenon)
-The sciences are manifestations of our attempt to express or share our understanding, our experience, to influence the universe external to ourselves. It doesn't rely on us as individuals. It's the universe, as experienced by everyone.

-Art: Abstract (personal ideas/feelings) ----> Concrete (manifestations)
-An artist sees an object or phenomenon and asks "How can I use this to express my ideas/feelings?"
-The arts manifest our desire, our attempt to share or influence others through experiences that are peculiar to us as individuals. Let me say it again another way: science provides an understanding of a universal experience, and arts provides a universal understanding of a personal experience. The "essential function" of art is to "intensify one's perception of reality."
Art, on the other hand, is its own end. Art isn't utilitarian. Art is as much about the product as it is about the process behind it. Art is judged for its beauty and insightful revelations. Art wants to be interpreted (sending different messages to everyone).

-A designer sees an object or phenomenon and asks "How can I use this to solve a given problem (of a human need)?"
-The differences between art and design lie not so much in how they look as in what they do: They have different purposes, they are made differently, they are judged by different criteria, and they have different audiences. Design is utilitarian in a way that art is not. Design is the how of a thing: how to order the parts, how to serve the client's interests, how to convey the information. The focus is on the usability of the product, with the design process in the background. Design is judged for its usefulness. Design aims to send the same message (e.g. use) to everyone (Design wants to be understood).

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