Two weeks ago I attended a very interesting art exhibit entitled “EmBodied”. It was organized by the SciArt Center that I have written about in an earlier post. I came across it by accident, but just in time to make it to the opening reception. Incidentally, as I was approaching the gallery, the following sign caught my eye. It gave me a pretty good laugh, considering where I was heading.
The exhibit was set up in a gallery in Brooklyn and consisted of paintings, sculptures and 3D installations meant to probe the interface of art and science. There was even a piece that attendees were encouraged to physically interact with. Quite a few artists attended the opening night and it was quite enlightening to chat with them about their work. Surprisingly, practically none of them were scientists (per se), with one exception that I found out about later. They were mostly professional artists interested in experimenting with scientific concepts in their work. While sciart is apparently an emerging field that has begun gaining traction in the last few years, observing nature and expressing it through art is not new. The practice probably began during the Renaissance, where great polymaths like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo used their scientific knowledge of human anatomy, obtained from dissecting human cadavers, to portray breathtaking human figures through painting and sculpture. The main difference is that the modern world has provided us with numerous advanced instruments, such as microscopes, to observe nature at different levels of detail. For example, the image below was painted based on a histological section of diseased human tissue.
Another artist color coded and superimposed multiple microscopic images of neurons – my favorite cells!
There was also a few interesting exceptions to the type of artists I just described. The author this magnificent piece actually obtained a Ph.D. in physics, which she now uses to mold recycled plastic into iridescent sculptures. She uses an environmentally conscious method to create art that gently, or as she said “playfully”, raises awareness about the accumulating landfills.
Another artist used chemical reactions to create artwork on copper sheets. While opinions of the resulting art might be varied, to me that appeared to be the pinnacle of merging art and science.
And the following map of the human brain was made by the granddaughter of one of the Nobel Prize laureates who discovered the structure of DNA – Francis Crick!
I really enjoyed my time there and it was truly inspiring to find a like-minded community of people.
Please stay tuned for my next post about “The Art of the Brain” exhibit and sign up for my newsletter here.
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