Sci-fi on art

Powered by 2016: An IAYC Odyssey (IAYC) and
Eli (our lovely, lovable and beloved leader ❤ )

Science fiction can regularly be found on books, movies, drama or even music (just go through David Bowie’s 🙂 ), so it’s hard to believe that there isn’t something similar for art. This is the idea that motivated this research.

What’s science fiction? (wiki stuffy!)

Sci-fi is not always easy to define, depending on who we ask, we get a different answer, most of them mainly based on examples. Mark C. Glassy explained that in a really effective way: Sci-fi is like pornography, you don’t really know what it is until you see it.

But there’s a pretty accurate definition by Robert A. Heinlein, he would say that it’s a “realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method.”

So… yup, the name was right, sci-fi is science and it’s fiction. Fiction is well known by artists, but what about science? ⇓

Science and art (and some sci-fi on art 🙂 )

Even though we usually think about science and art as completely different branches of culture, they actually have lots of things in common: both of them involve ideas and imagination, but also, they need hand-work to represent those thoughts, either in labs or by maths; or when it comes to paint or sculpt. That is to say they both get information and transform it into something more tangible.

It’s because of this parallelism that it isn’t about absolute madness to believe that there’s people that did both. In fact, we don’t have to go too far to find some of those: Leonardo Da Vinci.

Leonardo Da Vinci was educated on both topics, he learned science and nature thanks to his uncle, and Andrea del Verrocchio took care of the “artish” part.  Therefore, Da Vinci was able to make a further connexion, making art out of science:


But not stopping there, he also made science out of art. That can be seen on some of his sketches dealing with invention. This could be some of the first pieces of art involving sci-fi:


(1)  Machine for grinding convex lenses, (2) Flying “device”, (3) Walking on water

This is definitely not a singular event. We can find another one by the end of XIX century, in France, when the postcard collection “En l’an 2000” came out; or during the XX century,  when big scientific achievements such us nuclear physics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, the real nature of DNA or even space travel, among many others were accesible to every kind of public through newspapers and magazins. The art movements taking place those years can perfectly be related to this new interests, since some of them literally open the doors to create alternative realities, like surrealism, or cubism. And when those new “worlds” involve the realistic speculation and the scientific method, Robert A. Heinlein mentioned, it becomes science fiction. ⇓

Sci-fi on art (and some science on art 🙂 )


(1), (2), (3), (4)

(5), (6), (7)

(8), (9), (10), (11)

A little about these works:

(1) Butterfly Landscape, (6) Galacidalacidesoxyribonucleicacid, (8) The persistence of memory, (11) Planetary and Scatological Vision, by Salvador Dalí: Dalí is a cornerstone when talking about science on art (I’ll probably write another article based on that, so no spoilers!). (1) and (6) are both related to DNA, but this aren’t particular events, Dalí would work a lot with this topic, to the point that after seeing his paintings the very same James Watson asked him to illustrate his books. The deal didn’t happen at the end because of their disagreements on religion and politics, but it’s still a really interesting fact! (8) is probably Dalí’s masterpiece, it represents the relativity of time, and, therefore, general relativity.

(2) Moonscape by Kurt Seligmann: it represents Moon surface. It was painted in 1950, 10 years before Apollo program started.

(3) Useless science or the alchemist, (10) Ray creation, by Remedios Varo: She was a Mexican surrealist painter. Her father was an engineer and he inspired her works, that are full of scientific icons, as we can see in these examples. On the first one there’s someone getting drops of water from the rain by activating a complex machine by moving a crank. The second one follows a similar path, in here, the characters create light rays and redirect them.

(4) L’indicateur de l’Espace, by Victor Brauner: He was inspired by quantum mechanics.

(5) Promontory Palace by Yves Tanguy: Yves Tanguy had been travelling through Africa when he started painting this kind of paintings, he got inspired by its amazing geology.

(7) Sonde magnetique, by Marcell Jean

(9) Fleurs-coquillages, by Max Ernst

Apart from those, I would like to mention a specific collection of pure sci-fi on art, again, it’s Dalí’s; Imagination and other objects from the future:


It seems like whenever artists had freedom and access to science, they represented it in their works, creating sci-fi. This relationship doesn’t end up here, sci-fi needs art to be, without going too far there would not be any kind of sci-fi movie without that ingredient.

I would love to go deep into all of this, but since this is getting too long, I’ll do so in other articles.



3 thoughts on “Sci-fi on art

Add yours

  1. Fantastic Mara!! I love this review, I will keep reading the others on the topic! Are you organising any talk on the matter? If not, I think it would be a lovely idea and many people (myself included) would be super excited to attend!! ^_^

    Congrats for the entire blog btw, it is marvellous and quite captivating! you got me hooked! 😛

    ps: there is a bracket missing just at the beginning after “beloved leader” xDD

    ❤ ❤ ❤


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