Sunday, July 3, 2016

Week 2: Medicine + Technology + Art

Life is as beautiful as it is intriguing. The most common connection between medicine and art lies in the study of the fabrics of human anatomy. I have heard of the Visible Human Project before and it reminded me of a similar project by UC San Diego to study the brain of a famous patient HM. The amnesiac patient’s brain was sliced into approximately 2,500 slices and reconstructed into a digital map online. Although the purpose of this project was largely scientific, it exhibits a new way of looking our bodies closely that was made possible by science. 

Orlan’s work opened my eyes towards the obvious connection of plastic surgery to art and the notion of beauty. Although her work is too graphic for my taste, she does draw our attention towards the act of performing plastic surgery to change our looks. It prompts me to think: with the powerful tool of medical technology, how can we treat our body responsibly? And what is true beauty? Does a universal standard of beauty even exist or is it constantly changing? Will we ever be satisfied with our bodies? The animation below illustrates the concern over the use of plastic surgery. 

Donald Ingber’s article finds beauty in the intercellular world. It is truly fascinating to see architecture at work on such a small scale. This again shows the subtle connection between art and science that art sometimes is an elaborate display of nature. In the popular animation “The Inner Life of the Cell”, we can see how exactly these cytoskeletal systems are at work. 

A large portion of the lecture was dedicated to examples of how artists use medical technology to alter and even enhance their bodies to become “cyborgs”. They offered artists new medium of artistic performance and provoked the public to think about the implications of these technological advancements. In fact, becoming a cyborg is possible these days and the technology could benefit a lot of people with physical disabilities. The Japanese has invented a Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) for the lower torso to assist elderly and disabled populations. 

1. Ingber, Donald E. "The Architecture of Life." Scientific American (1998): 48-57. Print.
2. Kain, Debra. "UC San Diego’s ‘Brain Observatory’ to Examine Brain of HM: World’s Most Famous Amnesiac." This Week @ UCSD. N.p., 7 Dec. 2009. Web. 04 July 2016. <>

3. MutleeIsTheAntiGod. "Orlan - Carnal Art (2001) Documentary." YouTube. YouTube, 13 Mar. 2011. Web. 04 July 2016. <>
4. Vesna, Victoria. "Medicine + Technology + Art- Lectures part I." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. <>.
5. Vesna, Victoria. "Medicine + Technology + Art- Lectures part III." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. <>.

1. Autourdeminuit. "SUPERVENUS." YouTube. YouTube, 2016. Web. 04 July 2016. <>
2. Thejapantimes. "Cyberdyne's Robot Suit HAL to Keep People Walking." YouTube. YouTube, 2014. Web. 04 July 2016. <>
3. XVIVOAnimation. "The Inner Life of the Cell." YouTube. YouTube, 2011. Web. 04 July 2016. <>

1 comment:

  1. Hi Cindy! Thanks for sharing the video, "The Inner Life of the Cell". I had personally not watched or heard of the animation before and I found myself replaying the video several times because it was so mesmerizing. The background music and the animation itself really highlight the relationship between art and science. For me, the video turned a somewhat dry subject (cells) into a one-of-a-kind performance.