Popular discourse makes a distinction between an art and a science, the latter being applied to any pursuit that is empirical, objective and/or quantifiable, and the former being used to indicate that the rules of engagement are somehow vague, undefined, and/or subjective. Dating, it might be said, is an art in that there's no quantifiable recipe for success; conversely, bicycle maintenance could be called a science in that there is more clearly a right and a wrong way to do things. Hitting a baseball or a golf ball are good examples of tasks that might appear to fall somewhat in the middle: some great players may appear to have wildly erratic or idiosyncratic swings, your coach might say, but they all do a few crucial things exactly the same way.
understood distinction notwithstanding, abstract art and the hard sciences do have at
least one thing in common, along with athletics as well: they afford human beings the
opportunity to cultivate, demonstrate, and freely exercise their understanding of and
control over their physical environment. The hard sciences may be empirical, logical,
and rigorous, but they are also expressive in this way; and abstract art, while devoid of
literal meaning and hence ensured of the most subjective of receptions from its
audience, is not created randomly, but by being in touch with physical reality in a way
that can only be called scientific.
Accomplishments such as calculus, the slam
dunk, and The Rite of Spring are all brash displays of a certain level of control over
and understanding of the parameters of our physical environment. In my view, this is
every bit as much an inherently artistic or aesthetic concept as it is a scientific one.