My own problem with trying to equate art with science has been how to articulate what ‘knowledge’ is for an artist. For scientists knowledge has to be measurable, any form of truth has to have some form of correspondence in ‘nature’ or ‘reality’. In the social sciences it feels as if everything is located in what I would call ‘propositional’ truths and over the last 40 years of teaching I have seen an influx of social science theory come into the art educational field to support a growing theoretical umbrella that has been constructed around art and its processes. But what sort of ‘knowing’ am I involved in as an artist? I don't think of myself as having to prove anything. I make art out of some sort of personal necessity that has as much to do with hands that need to be busy as a mind that needs to think about what is going on.
I’m also very aware that many of my peers are now involved with PhD study and that the college I work for is now entering a new phase, one that will see far more emphasis on research. From what I have seen, practice based research in the PhD area seems to still hold scientific or propositional knowledge as paradigms against which art practice should be measured. The idea that art practice should be grounded in theory is central to most BA Fine Art curricula and there is an almost tacit agreement that this is vital to a student’s holistic awareness of their developing art practice.
Making or drawing for me opens out an understanding as it is done. It’s not an illustration of a concept about the world, it is a type of knowledge that arrives. However I would argue that this is in parallel with the type of knowledge that arrives when I am in and experience the world itself. I’m often amazed at what arrives out of my mouth when I speak, as Yates said when asked about his poetry, ‘I made it out of a mouthful of air’. Images arrive out of doing something, and then afterwards you begin to think about what they might be about. But how can this be written about?
Heidegger put it this way, ‘…it becomes manifest only through the work, because it lies originally in the work.’ Tom McGuirk's paper ‘Heidegger’s Rift: The Epistemological Significance of Drawing’ available to download at: https://www.materialthinking.org/sites/default/files/papers/TomMcGuirk.pdf
provides an interesting starting point in terms of how you might begin to think about these issues.