Week 4 – [Art + Medicine = Art], by Jonathan Diamond

   

             I consider myself an extremely optimistic, open minded person, yet certain notions seem to pass a threshold where even the most devout optimists must raise an eyebrow.  A simple example of such a notion is when literature is analyzed and for some reason in every text, traces of feminist ideology or stereotypes can magically be found.  This is an example of looking for something that IS NOT THERE (Warning: I am clearly not an English major, please do not be offended).  Keeping this idea in mind, I thought similarly about artists that spontaneously create conjectures about how art is inherent with literally every division of existence, and philosophical discipline—i.e. art and medicine.  So I next did what any level headed, technologically savvy, devil’s advocate would do, I googled it.  And low and behold, I came across an interesting article.  It was an interview with the Editor Chief of JAMA magazine, Dr. M. Therese Southgate.  The article begins as such: “The question I have been most frequently asked during my years with the JAMA covers is: “Why art on the cover of a medical journal? What has medicine to do with art?””  Then Dr. Southgate points at three very profound similarities between art and medicine.  “First, they share a common goal: to complete what nature has not”.  I find this very interesting: medicine clearly was fashioned for the literal purpose of fixing what nature has not been able to thus far fix or “complete.”  Yet, when applied to art, an insightful point is made—art exists as one of the few ‘things’ where humanity actually has furthered natural beauty, beyond the point of natural potential (obviously debatable).  “Second, they have a common substrate, the physical, visible world of matter.” This is an obvious, yet important observation.   Third, “more significant, however, are the similar qualities of mind, body, and spirit demanded of the practitioners of each, painter and physician.”  Dr. Southgate makes a point about the idea of observation with regard to both disciplines: “the ability not only to observe, but to observe keenly — to ferret out the tiny detail from the jumble of facts, lines, colors — the tiny detail that unlocks a painting or a patient’s predicament.”  Although I dislike quoting large portions of other people’s writings, Dr. Southgate does a brilliant job in his description of the parallel.  “Observation demands attention, and this is the key to both art and medicine. Attention is nothing more than a state of receptiveness toward its object, the artist to nature, the viewer to the work of art, the physician to the patient… Medicine is itself an art. It is an art of doing, and if that is so, it must employ the finest tools available — not just the finest in science and technology, but the finest in the knowledge, skills, and character of the physician. Truly, medicine, like art, is a calling.”  Therefore I humbly admit the inaccuracy of my first statement—art is not something that is searched for in medicine, they are one in the same.  And such a statement makes sense if you consider certain specialists that are considered miracle doctors.  Some physicians and doctors stretch the bounds of the medical world, bringing in their own two sense performing things that are truly “beautiful”.   And as such, it should come as no surprise that art and medicine have been combined for decades upon decades in the world of art.  This is the website where the interview and a video of the interview can be seen: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/561511.  Below are some pieces that combine the two disciplines.

 

 

 

 

Link for the youtube video showing of Body Works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5bBtohsCCI

by, Jonathan Diamond

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