The following is a portion of an interview conducted in the Market Porter, London Bridge, on the 1st of January 2002 to coincide with the opening of the exhibition at the Danielle Arnaud gallery, London SE11. Those present included unforgiving deconstructivist Jacques Derrida, social historian Michel Foucault, artist and writer John Tozer, and scientist, mathematician, artist, philosopher and honorary interviewee Albert Einstein.

John Tozer: Id like to begin by thanking you all for turning up this morning. I know its been particularly challenging for Mike and Bertie, so thanks for making the effort. Now, I have to admit that, given the circumstances in which this session is being held, it is difficult to know exactly how we should proceed towards our research goals

Albert Einstein: If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

JT: Quite. However, I will begin by asking Albert a deceptively simple question: How do you apply yourself to the process of making art? What informs the works in The Exhibition?

AE: The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.

JT: But, given that, are not the realms of science with which you are most closely identified - and of art somewhat irreconcilable?

AE: I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

JT: You mean, then, that there is a degree of mystery in both?

AE: The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.

Michel Foucault: I am a little concerned that the distinctions we are making between art and science are erroneous. That is, both are spheres of activity that depend not just on a particular practitioner identifying himself or herself as artist, scientist or mathematician, but upon a whole series of widely-held beliefs and assumptions that are inherently linked to the age in which we are living. We may only be artists to the degree that within this particular cultural epoch the notion of the artist is established and visible. We should look not at what unites or divides art and science, but at what makes the simultaneous existence of both possible.

JT: It could also be argued that the history of art is not infinite, and that at some point it could mutate into the history of philosophy, science or religion

AE: Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the first one. The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible: knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

JT: But common sense should dictate that we see the spheres of art and science as separate, as both are governed by wildly-differing conventions and beliefs

AE: Common sense is no more than the collection of prejudices acquired by the age of 18

Jacques Derrida: I think it is important that we establish an appropriate position from which to inspect the things we call art and science. Discourse has both an interiority and an exteriority, and the only place from which we can truly speak of a text is from somewhere between it and its outside; at the edge where one territory it meets another. The discourses that tend to accrue around the art object serve - having emerged largely from within the art institution - simply to corroborate and reinforce existing presumptions of, and to, arthood. To understand art, to make an authentic reading, we must see it as a text within a context; an interiority within an exteriority. We must look not at the objects but at the system that accommodates them and from which they emerge. Its a bit like maths in a way.

AE: Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater. Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.

JD: I am concerned not with the numbers themselves, Al, but with the relations between them.

AE: As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.

MF: I agree with what JD says about discourses and their emergence from within the institution.

JT: Im going for a slash.

MF: There is a danger, however, of us straying too far from the object of our discussions: that of a series of artworks by the great Albert Einstein.

AE: Please. I have no particular talent. I am merely inquisitive. If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber. As far as I'm concerned, I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue.

MF: And is mathematics a silent vice?

AE: If A equals success, then the formula is: A=X+Y+Z. X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut.

MF: So to that extent mathematics is taciturn

AE: The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. The only source of knowledge is experience. All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. Gravitation can not be held responsible for people falling in love. E=mc2

All text Copyright 2002    John Tozer