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Nature: Blurring the Lines between Arts and Sciences

I’ve always been fascinated by sciences and arts. Being in the think-team, I did pursue my higher education in sciences. However, I've also lived a long life with photographer parents and artsy siblings. I have been taught to appreciate all types of art forms, from images, dance, music, etc. More recently, I started challenging this boundary as I realized that they are not so separate. There are many instances where they are very much integrated where you can see everyday - nature.

Think about it. When you look at details of, be it the structure of a mushroom, or the beak of a bird, you are looking at possibly thousands to millions of years of evolution. Their beauty is as fascinating as their function. I mean for anything to still exist today, there must be a purpose behind the design. This is why we start to copy them. Why reinvent the wheel, when there is already a designer with more experience than any human.

This is where the field biomimicry emerges, using nature as an inspiration for the design. Watch this vox video for more details about its application in engineering. Even in computer science, the core of it is inspired by our brains! The camera is inspired by our eyes. But today I want to talk focus more on its applications in art. And I came across this video that dare I call it perfection.

Iris van Herpen, a Dutch designer, designing nature-inspired clothing for Jingjing Mao, an astounding ballerina in Dutch National Ballet, a dance company that I am obsessed with, accompanied by extraordinary classical musician-composer Lavinia Meijer. It could not get better than this. I rewatched this video countless times when it first came out. There is just so much about this video to appreciate, but I will focus on van Herpen's artistic movement. Her fashion shows are not one to mess with. She does not only design superficially 'fashionable' clothes. But the function of her clothing in movement is absolutely breathtaking. The silhouettes, the details. To think that it is all inspired by nature, says a lot about her and nature, or maybe her relationship with nature.

Anyway, to skip about my obsession with this video. A few days ago, I watched a documentary called “Abstract: The Art of Design “ specifically on bioarchitecture. Neri Oxman, an MIT professor that attempts to break boundaries in the world of construction. Rethinking the engineering world of construction by introducing "growth" as opposed to "assembly". A one of a kind scientist, she brought thousands of silkworms to the MIT lab to build. Let nature build! she says. She takes biomimicry to the next level.

There is so much to talk about here, but in the documentary, I found particular section especially interesting. She explained how arts, sciences, design, and engineering can be sectioned into a radar. Design is a form of communication of art, while engineering is sort of a utility of science information. So when you build knowledge from science, you can use it to engineer something. Then once you have function sorted out, you can design to communicate better. Finally comes art to sort of embed a philosophy to culture and create more definitions in an uncertain world. This explanation already has my slight interpretation of it and sort of reminds me how the think-do-be culture work at Regardless, I still highly recommend watching the documentary or the Tedtalk.

Oh I forgot to mention, she did work with Iris van Herpen to design clothing purely without stitching using 3D printing and again, biomimicry. I knew there was something fishy and familiar with Oxman when I discovered her. Two authentic designers coming together to prove that the boundaries of arts and sciences are only as thick as we decide it to be.

Whether you are into arts or sciences, I think we can mutually agree that nature is the best in both worlds. Now these buzzwords are coming in from left and right, whether it's nature-inspired solutions, biomimetics, or pretty much add "bio" before anything, such as bioarchiecture. I wonder what else our civilization will do to be inspired by nature, maybe economic or bureaucratic systems? What has crossed your mind after reading this post? How else do you think we can apply biomimicry to real life?

I'm interested in what you all think in the comments below!

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