The Making Strange Exhibit was at once stunning, absurd, and thought-provoking! Vivan Sundaram is a Delhi-based artist who does a fantastic job of taking normal, everyday things and turning them into strange combinations that spurs deep thinking about societal notions of beauty and health. Although there were so many pieces that brought up interesting discussion, I'd like to share my thoughts on some of my favorites.
Today I ventured into somewhere I've never been before...the Biomedical Library's Special Collections stacks! I study in the main library often, but had never known of this hidden gem. What caught my eye was a display of gorgeous illustrations of birds laid out very delicately in a special case.
When I think of a snake, I think “slither.” Snakes have been commonly associated with a slithery, sly, cunning kind of character in pop culture and western media. This harkens back to the old biblical tale of how the snake corrupted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As seen in the picture below, the snake in western culture has long been associated with evil.
My first reaction to our presenter's talk was "how is beekeeping art?" But thinking about it further, I realized that beekeeping itself is an art. The way that he talked about how you would have to brush them gently like their sunflower seeds, smoke them to relax them, etc., is all part of this artform. But, this artform is also based on science.
This Thursday we got to listen to presentations of interesting, crazy, and useful products imagined by our very own HC177 students!
Last Thursday, I attended the Center for Society and Genetics web conference that featured Dr. Aaron Panofsky being interviewed by Osagie Obasagie about his new book, Misbehaving Science. It was quite an interesting talk! I had not read the book before, but was able to get a general sense of it from the talk. The book is about the field of behavioral genetics, which Dr. Panofsky argues is "misbehaving" due to lack of consensus on many issues, which is a result of the destructuring of the field.
This week we watched a lot of videos in class that made me question everything I thought I knew about plants. Some, I could rationalize – for instance, when the Russian scientists killed a plant in front of another, and the plant would pick up on it as seen on a lie detector, I thought “Oh, that plant is probably releasing chemicals or some sort of signal to warn the other plant.” But others, I could not, such as Dr. and Mrs. Hashimoto’s “conversations” with their plants. I was shocked by how human-like the plants sounded, and how they were “repeating” after Mrs.
As someone who deals with rats on a regular basis in a lab, I was very intrigued by Kathy High's work with rat laughter. I have always wondered if animals feel the same emotions as humans do - happiness, sadness, etc. Hearing Kathy's recording of the rat laughter - that was lowered so that we hear their laughter in the ultrasonic range - has convinced me that they do to some extent.
Last week, Mary talked about DIYBio in class. I thought it was interesting that the DIYBio brand meant more than just doing biology experiments in your garage, but that it was a social and political movement about opening lab doors and making science accessible to everyone. It was clear to me in the 2nd DIYSECT episode that the movement is definitely not conducive of bioterrorists, since it is about working in community labs - a bioterrorist would definitely not get away with anything there!
Before I came to this Biotech + Art class, my understanding of biotech was that it is art about science, or using science materials such as petri dishes to make aesthetically appealing art. Then, I remember coming across it also in my Society and Genetics 105A class, in which art-science was briefly mentioned, and how it is a field that is leading to new innovation more so than just either field are capable of alone.