Science <----> Art

I’m really excited about this class.

I’m a third year neuroscience major and have had maybe too much experience in the lab. To be honest, it is somewhat hard not to get sick of the repetitive nature the lab feeds off of. Consequently, exploring experiments and projects that incorporate creativity and art in biology that can be further translated into the lab (ex. Eduardo Kac’s GFP Bunny, Alba) enthralls me endlessly. I have particular interest in the intersection of art and neuroscience. In fact, SymbioticA’s “Fish and Chips” reminded me a lot of Marina Abramovic’s “COME PAT A BULL.” Both are very similar. Fish and Chips is essentially a robot arm that creates a drawing based off of the activity of a goldfish’s neuron. COME PAT A BULL has two people that are wearing portable EEG headsets sit across from each other on a bull-like apparatus. This apparatus then moves based off of the “shared brain activity” of these participants.  

COME PAT A BULL.png

Source: The Raptor Lab, "Marina Abramovic Wants You to Drive with Your Mind."

I love the parallels between art and science. I believe a lot of relationships and avenues for discussion can be founded through these “silly” projects. For example, Kathy High’s “Rat Laughter” resonates with me deeply. I work with mice directly in the research lab I assist at and I always feel so bad that we don’t pay them the gratitude they deserve. Medicine would be years behind without these “pesky” rodents. It is indeed quite interesting that we use rodents as the closest model of the human biological system yet we treat them rather poorly. 

In addition to discussion, the combination of art and science also allows for the public to question the manipulation and uses of our modern day technologies, as discussed by Jens Hauser. I fervently believe that our technology is advancing much faster than our morals are as a society. There should be committees to enforce the correct use of not just biotechnologies, but any technology that can be manipulated for harms way. Of course, this is very controversial because who do you put in charge of a entire society’s morals? This is just food for thought. 

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Right: "Playing with Line Drawings" by Maple Pancakes. Left: ThermoFisher Scientific "Neurons in ventrobasal nucleus of newborn mouse thalamus” 

In my research lab I have done neural tracing and while doing so I couldn’t help but to think how close this task is to line drawings. Needless to say, I am fascinated with the parallels of science and art and believe a great amount of enlightenment and knowledge can be gained from recognizing these parallels. 

References

Arts and Electronic Media. "MEART-SymbioticA's Fish & Chips" Art and Electronic Media. http://artelectronicmedia.com/artwork/meart-symbioticas-fish-chips

Hauser, Jens. "Observations on an Art of Growing Interest: Towards a Phenomenological Approach to Art Involving Biotechnology." Tactical Biopolitics. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008. 

Kac, Eduardo. "GFP Bunny" KAC, http://www.ekac.org/gfpbunny.html#gfpbunnyanchor
 
​Maple Pancakes. "Playing with Line Drawings."  http://www.clipartbest.com/clipart-MKcjk5oTq
Rutkin, Aviva. "Marina Abramovic Wants You to Drive with Your Mind." The Raptor Lab. 16 Aug. 2013. https://theraptorlab.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/marina-abramovic-wants-you-to-drive-with-your-mind/
 
​ThermoFisher Scientific. "Dil Stain ((1,1'-Dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-Tetramethyllindocarbocyanine Perchlorate ('DiI'; DiIC18(3))), https://www.thermofisher.com/order/catalog/product/D282