Art & Math & Science, Oh My!

My writeup of Amy Wibowo’s recent talk on the intersection of art and science

This evening I snuck out of work early to catch Amy Wibowo giving a talk.

I found out about the talk two days ago. I am such a fan of her work that I asked if I could attend without knowing the title or content, such is my confidence in her awesomeness.

The Location

The talk was at UsTwo, a digital product studio in Shoreditch, London. There was a nice vibe about the space. You got the impression that you were surrounded by creative folk thinking interesting thoughts.

One of the talk attendees was this cow.

Us Two Cow

The Talk

The talk, called Art & Math & Science, Oh My! delivered on my expectations of awesome.

Amy Wibowo

Amy started by explaining how she always felt she had to choose between the path of art or the path of science. They were two separate groupings of disciplines.

Even though our education system does treat these two areas as completely separate, when talking to colleagues at some of the places she has worked a lot of people mentioned well known manga / comic / cartoon characters as their inspiration. Art was inspiring science.

One place were art has had an impact on technology is with Linda Liukas’ work on Hello Ruby. Amy drew attention to the tone of the Hello Ruby resources being set by the design and characters used. The tone softened what can be a daunting experience (learning to code), this helps people learn.

It was at this point Amy mentioned her work with BubbleSort Zines. I liked her comparison, calling BubbleSort Hello Ruby’s sarcastic teenage sister

Amy also drew attention to Jenn Schiffer’s work recreating Matisse shapes in JavaScript. Jenn used JavaScript to enable people who don’t think they are artistic to create something visual.

By this point we are all pretty convinced that art and science can impact each other, why should we care?

Having an appreciation of both helps with;

  • Communication
  • Better immersion when learning
  • Not seeing the links can cause confusion and can force people into thinking that they need to choose

One question Amy received after her talk was to see a sample of the BubbleSort zine. She took us through “How do Calculators Even” (which I have reviewed), it was well received and acted as a perfect example of using art to explain science.

Here is Amy going through How do Calculators Even

Amy Wibowo

Finally, let me end with a quote that explains why I love Amy and why you should too.

The thing that I love about ancient Ethiopian multiplication is…

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