What Would Leonardo Be?
One of my joys has been poring through the parts of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks that have been printed. Full of intricate diagrams, observations and theories, they give some insight into a man who was both scientist and artist.
Then today I opened the twice-weekly letter from Robert Genn to find him exploring a subject near to my heart – the idea that scientists and artists are not separate species, but have much in common. He began by talking about Frank Oppenheimer’s Exploratorium . To quote Robert:
“Frank Oppenheimer believed that artists and scientists were cut from the same cloth, destined to be the sensitive eyes and ears of mankind and the creators of human progress.”
Much has been written on the subject, and examinations of the processes by which great scientists and great artists have reached beyond the known to open new areas to exploration certainly seem to suggest that they have much in common.
Breakthroughs are based on both width and depth of knowledge, exploration, categorization, experimentation and a rigorous method for assessing the new knowledge gained. And an ability to know what matters, and what should be put aside.
Those are the broader themes. On the personal level, it seems to me that the links between the artist and the scientist include the ability to visualize, to see patterns, to weed out unnecessary distractions, and to play with ideas and concepts both consciously and unconsciously.
Like Leonardo. Or Einstein. Or Frank Oppenheimer.