Looking at the importance of art in astronomical sciences

I’d like to point to a recent article from Undark by writer Mara Johnson-Groh, looking at the way that artistic visualization methods have been important to astronomy in recent years: “Sketching the Stars: How Art Can Advance Astronomy”

The article profiles several real-world examples where scientists have applied art techniques to build a better means of visualizing and understanding large astronomical datasets. This one was trippy:

With the aid of a specialized loom, they have also created woven installations nearly the size of a van that visualize the interconnectivity of the cosmic web. “We believe that art, as much as science, seeks to say something true about the nature of existence,” they wrote in a 2017 paper on their collaboration, “and that end is best served by artistic representation that grapples with real data and not only with allegorical concepts.”

The bottom line of the article is encompassed in the last paragraph:

“Applying the techniques from art definitely influences the way astronomers see and interact with their data,” English said. “I don’t think [techniques from art] in astronomy visualization can be relegated to a sidebar any longer. It really does enhance discovery science.”

Human genetics is always a step or two behind astronomy in terms of data processing and visualization. I see a lot of promise over the next few years in developing new ways of visualizing and understanding genetic datasets from humans and other creatures.