We live in a world where the implosion of meaning and the end of history Baudrillaud wrote about so dramatically in Simulacra and Simulation (and which accelerated in the internet era) have now been around for a while. Philosophy, art, literature, in fact, all of the humanities were sucked into a theoretical black hole (which we can blame largely on Wittgenstein and the way that media operates to render information meaningless): meta to the nth.
But here we still are, getting up and going to work (if you're lucky enough to have a job), people in a meaningless, ahistorical world.
But Science, as post-structuralism dismantled feminism, humanism, and all metanarratives, held its ground, upholding it's empirical reductionism like a politician upholding family values.
And in the debris of postmodernism, it remains. Science.
Science, and Science alone retains the subject and the object, the signifier and the signified, the Future and the noble goals of mankind. Science, and not philosophy, will tell us the Truth about ourselves, the world, and through fossils and conjecture about early humans, the Nature of Man.
...Oh, and artists remain, bewildered by the absolute meaninglessness of their art history educations.
And two major trends have emerged: relational art, which represents, produces, or prompts inter-human relations (check out Gabriel Orozco and Miranda July); and art that imitates or employs as its medium science and technology, creating abstracted data visualizations, substituting scientific approaches for aesthetic approaches, using the forms of science to imbue work with meaning. (Check out Gail Wight and the sound-memory neural networks of Debora Aschheim).
As these trends expand there seems to be a sentiment that a given project which is sort-of about science or is sort-of interactive is automatically art, even if it can't satisfy the questions "What does it mean?" or "Why should I care?"
But, back to Science. While some art that borrows from science and technology does so critically or works with the concepts creatively, some are just aesthetic objects inspired by science. And I love beautiful things, I do. I just don't want art discourse to be lost to the pastoralism of abstract, uncritical new media work.