MacArthur Fellow to Speak at Addison

Harvard professor and MacArthur Foundation Fellow Dr. Peter Galison will speak at the Addison Gallery of American Art next week on the relationship between science and art with regard to the work of Terry Winters. Julie Bernson, Education Director at the Addison Gallery, hopes that Dr. Galison’s lecture will aid in the demolition of the traditional barriers that society has raised between English, history, art and science. Ms. Bernson said, “I hope that people will realize that art and science are not mutually exclusive.” She continued, “The separation between the left and right sides of the brain, creative and mathematical, abstract and concrete, may not be as solid as people have been led to believe.” Dr. Galison has studied the relationship between art and science in great depth. Though not well known in the art world, he has explored the intersection of art and science, particularly in the evolution of the depiction of scientific theories. He believes in taking scientific ideas and translating them into visual forms in order to communicate them to the general public. Additionally, Dr. Galison has questioned the value and accuracy of a hand-made work in comparison to that of photo – or the abstract versus the mechanical. Graduating with a BA and MA in the History of Science from Harvard University in 1977, Dr. Galison is first and foremost a scientist. He has focused on the points where historical and philosophical ideas meet in regard to the interaction between the three main concepts of physics: experimentation, instrumentation and theory. He is currently working on a three volume series with one book addressing each topic of experimentation, instrumentation and theory. He has already completed the first two, How Experiments End in 1987 and Image and Logic: a Material Culture of Microphysics in 1997, a work which won the Pfizer award for an outstanding work regarding the history of science. His third book on theory, with the preliminary title Theory Machines, is still a work in progress. Dr. Galison has also studied the correlation of physics to other areas of culture, such as art and architecture. Though his course roster is composed mainly of seminars such as “History and Philosophy of 20th Century Physics,” “Scientific Realism,” and “the Einsteinian Revolution,” two of his courses, “Fascism, Art and Science in the Interwar Years” and “Filming Science,” are closely linked to art. He has also edited various artistically inclined books, including The Architecture of Science and Picturing Science, Producing Art. In 1997, Dr. Galison was designated as a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, and in 1999, he received the Max Planck Research Award for his writing. Dr. Galison grew up in Manhattan as the oldest in a family of three, and attended the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx. Intrigued by French literature, he graduated a year early from Riverdale in order to work in a physics lab at the École Polytechnique in Paris, France. After gradutating from Harvard, he proceeded to obtain a Master of Philosophy degree in the history and philosophy of science from Cambridge and a PhD from Harvard in the history of science and physics. He taught philosophy and physics at Stanford from 1983 until he left to teach on the East Coast at Harvard University in 1992.