Week 4: Medicine and Body by Michelle Wong

During class Professor Vensa spent a great deal of time relating medicine and art through the practice of plastic surgery. I used to think that people who used plastic surgery for aesthetics misdemeanor the purpose of medicine, but after watching the video of Orlan, it gave me a different perspective. Medicine is a form of art. The practice of medicine requires accuracy, precision, and according to M. Therese Southgate, MD, the strive to “complete what nature what nature has not.” These qualities are quite parallel to those of an artist.

I believe the movie GATTAC is the work of medicine, technology, and art merged together. The idea that the second a person is born it is calculated when they will die is a bit overwhelming. Mix and matching genes to eliminate the problematic ones and to create a favorable human, otherwise artwork is an understatement of how far medicine has come and the obvious integration of art. Japan, known of its state of the art plastic surgeries, is perhaps the most advance in terms of plastination. Plastic surgery is a reconstructive technique to restore, preserve, create, and express beauty. Perhaps plastic surgery is the where medicine meets art – they both strive for perfection. Furthermore, in Japan ads regarding cosmetic surgery are a common sight. Just as Professor Vensa pointed out, the study of medicine connects to the general public through artistic representation.

Billboard in Japan

Billboard in Japan

From the guest speaker presentation, I found Philip Beesley’s installation to be very interesting and meaningful. I particularly liked the organic battery. A scientific concept, chemical energy from natural reactions, is beautifully incorporated into Beesley’s work. I don’t really know how to look beyond the surface when it comes to art appreciation, but Beesley’s work was a whole new genre. The Hylozoic soil was awesome how it can move in response to the observers’ body heat. I also found the geometric architectural aspect of Beesley’s installation to be very interesting. I also looked at Beesley’s other installations and I found the Erratics Net (stage 2) to be the most interesting. This installation was a net “made with wire joints clamped by sliding flexible tubes that lock each link to its neighbor making a tough, resilient structure.” What caught was attention was that it was able to respond to the surrounding atmosphere. The net is capable of expanding into multiple layers in respond to humid states, such as heavy fog and wet ground soaked in fog vapor. When it expands, each layer serves as the base for the new expanding layer. I really like the sensitivity and the connectivity.

Erratics net 2nd stage by Beesley

Erratics net 2nd stage by Beesley

Since the beginning of this class, I think Beesley’s work has left the deepest impression because it really gave me a concrete example how to express science in terms of art. I really like the standard, geometric structures because it expresses law and order. The interaction that Beesley’s works have with the observers and the surrounding is marvelous. I learned that looking at scientific concepts from a different angle can be very pleasing, and at times easier to understand.

Erratics Net: http://www.philipbeesleyarchitect.com/sculptures/9822erraticsB/erraticsBinfo.html

By: Michelle Wong

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