Creating a third culture : how to bring C.P. Snow into the 21st century and find a place for the two cultures of science and art to meet

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


In 1959, C.P Snow wrote an essay entitled 'The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution' in which he split the intellectual world into two cultures. The first culture is scientific culture; the second culture, on the other hand, includes literary intellectuals and artists. Snow claimed that these two cultures spoke so disparate a language that communication between the two was virtually non-existent. He believed that the self-imposed barriers between science and art played a major role in society's inability to solve the world's problems. As a result, Snow anticipated the need for a 'third culture' created by curious non-scientists that would narrow this cultural divide. I propose that this third culture can be found in a medium that clearly intersects both art and science--and that medium is film. Film looks towards a variety of disciplines for inspiration and ideas and builds upon various fields in order to communicate a message. This multidisciplinary approach is the key uniting the two seemingly incongruous cultures. More specifically, the specific film medium through which the two cultures can best come together is the genre I have dubbed the "personal science film." This genre is a hybrid of the personal essay and the science documentary. This thesis will defend Snow's demand for both a scientifically and artistically literate public, analyze the historical events in which science and art have come together, and ultimately present a way in which Snow's formerly competing cultures can coexist and find common ground. I will discuss the basics of a personal science film, highlighting the many techniques required to reach a broader audience. I will demonstrate how the personal science film can bridge the gap between the artistic and scientific worlds, forming a 'third culture', and thus narrowing the "cultural divide".


Bending widgets is a film that is part of the student's thesis project.



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