Week 1: Redefining The Renaissance


This course is extremely interesting. My friend made this recommendation to me as she stated that the course was very unique and introduced her to another world. So far, I am having the same experience. Professor Vensa's introduction talk to the course on Thursday was perfect. I often think about the lines that have been drawn between Art and Science. Several natural philosophers have inspired me. One being the well-known historical figure Leonardo da Vinci. He was a scientist, an artist, an inventor, and much more. He is the epitome of the "Renaissance Man". Another, Andreas Vesalius. Vesalius was a controversial 16th-century anatomist and physician. His work included drawings of the organs he would dissect. A little over two years ago I attended a weekend conference with a former professor at the Huntington. In attendance were artists, scientists, and book collectors alike. All of the above gave lectures on his infamous works. It was incredibly interesting to hear how Vesalius influenced each one of these disciplines. I have always been so fascinated by the crossroads of science and art. Even more, I have always argued that there can be no crossroads as they cannot truly be separated from one another. Much like the article assigned discussed, the "life and art" topic runs very deep. 

large_Vesalius_Pg_164.jpg    large__75889740_leonardo_female_anatomy.jpg

Vesalius                                                        da Vinci 

Under the total internal reflection fluorescence microscope I use to visualize actin filaments for my research, I see how life itself is truly a beautiful display of art on the molecular level. My filaments are stained with Oregon Green 488 dye. My graduate student and I sometimes just stare at the images (usually when we add too much actin and the image is cluttered and our experiment is unusable) and smile at their beauty. We become nearly hypnotized and completely memorized. As a scientist, I often find myself explaining to people how creative one must be. It is a shame to me that sometimes in academic sciences the creativity aspect is downplayed and the "intelligence" aspect is over emphasized. Yes, scientists are usually incredibly intelligent in their area of expertise, but I believe the best scientists are extremely creative and usually take the road less traveled. Historically, some scientist's work have been laughed at because it wasn't the reasonable approach. Like Sir Humphry Davy and how he laughed at Michael Faraday's idea of electromagnetism. (Granted it is hard in this case to separate whether Sir Davy's laughter was condescending or due to his nitrous oxide addiction.)


For myself, I am excited to turn to a newer concept of biotechnology and see how art is utilizing this area to make political, ethical, and thoughtful statements. For the first exhibition, Haytham Nawar: Collective Bread Diaries, I loved it. I love his protest, "to live", using bread and how in his dialect bread literally means to live. It was really thought provoking and so eloquent. It is definitely an accurate symbol of life and the statement, to live. I also like the egg as a representation of life (not necessarily "to live"). That is why I have a broken egg tattooed on my ribcage under my left arm. Maybe it is my own personal protest. To me it has symbolized that life is always changing, hence the egg is broken. It is broken so something different can emerge.  

Lastly, I was very intrigued in reading about Wim Delvoye's Cloaca machine in the assigned reading. Here is a YouTube link I found on his work. 


​All I can say is he is an artist who is definitely not offended when you call his work sh*t. 

Overall, I am very excited for this course. I am interested in life. I am interested in what makes us human. That is why I aspire to become a doctor. I tend to be limited by my own need for things to be extremely literal and so I have gravitated toward the sciences, but I see the world around me as beautiful. I see the universe as a giant canvas, or maybe to make it a bit more current, a giant LED screen. As I stated, I am interested in what makes us human, and art is such an integral piece of our distinction as human. I look forward to hearing all your thoughts over this quarter. 

Works Cited

- Roxby, P. (2014 April 28). What Leonardo Taught Us. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-28054468

-Vesalius, A. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. (Palo Alto, CA : Octavo, 1998). 2 CD-ROMs. Includes a digitized facsimile of the 1543 Basel edition and a commentary by Katharine Park.