Archive for the ‘week4_medicine’ Category

Week 4/Humorism and Modern Medicine/Connor Petty

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

The Hippocratic school was founded upon the theory of Humorism.  This theory stated that the human body was filled with four basic substances known as the four humors. It was proposed that these four substances would wax and wane depending on the patient’s diet and environment. Whenever one of these substances waxed or waned, then the mental and/or physical health of the patient would be affected. It was then the goal of the physician to properly record and diagnose a patient’s ailment and then bring balance to the patients fluids. The four humors were : blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. It was believed that an excess of black bile caused Melancholia, a mood disorder resulting from depression. Melancholia, unlike Melancholy in the modern context, had both mental and physical symptoms. Hippocrates classified all “fears and despondencies, if they last a long time” as symptoms of Melancholia. Yellow bile was believed to be the cause of Cholera, a gastrointestinal bacteria that was more often than not fatal during the time. Phlegm is the mucus produced by the respiratory system. Symptoms from an inbalance of Phlegm would be caughing, sneezing, and runny or stuffy nose.

This theory was adopted into Muslim and Western European medicine and to some extent still exists today. It wasn’t this theory that revolutionized medicine, but rather the vast number of medical texts describing various diseases and their symptoms that resulted from the theory’s practice that revolutionized medicine. The usage of Humorism in Hippocratic medicine was observant and noninvasive.

The above picture is of a Hippocratic bench, which was used to gently realign broken bones through the use of torsion. This and several other such devices demonstrate the passive approach that Hippocratic medicine took to treat patients. This medical practice was often criticized due to the fact that many patients would die under observation due to the inability for physicians to give proper treatment because they were unsure that the diagnosis was correct.  There were, however, many more theories that stem from humorism that also advanced medical science as we know.

Bloodletting, as shown above, was the practice of draining blood from the body in an attempt to flush the body of toxins. This was a mainstream practice during the Hippocrates era, and was further popularized by one of Hippocrates students, Galen of Rome. It was first proposed that blood was created and then used up, that is, it did not circulate, thus it could stagnate and become harmful to the body. The purpose of bloodletting was to restore balance to the four humors. The usefulness of this practice was disproved in 1628 by an English physician William Harvey. He proposed that blood circulated through the body rather than stagnated. Willam Harvey supported his theory though experimentation which created much controversy the theory was first announced due to its blatant contrast to the over 1400 year old teaching of Galen. Harvey’s theory, however, became widely accepted due to the large amount of evidence he was able to support it with. It was with the help of Harvey, that the practice of medicine incorperated aspects of the scientific method.


Week 4/ Interactive Body Art/ Ariel Alter

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Ted Kunkel is a multimedia artist who effectively harnesses his knowledge of art, science and technology to create socially critical installations.  In Mosquito Box, exhibited in Slovenia in 2003, Kunkel constructed a translucent box containing HIV-infected mosquitos, in which viewers were allowed to reach inside of. The direct contact between the viewers and the insects was meant to combat the notion that mosquitos are capable of transmitting HIV, and provoke discussion about how it is indeed spread.The work demonstrated its proposition that human beings are grossly uniformed about the transmission of HIV which results in irrational actions against it and the stigmatism of those people infected with it. Kunkel intentionally hired a participant to “accidentally” smash it, releasing the infected mosquitos into the crowd. If it was common knowledge that the virus cannot survive in the body of an insect such as mosquitos, men in hazmat suits would not have come to “clean up” the site of the box’s destruction.
The piece stirred a huge amount of controversy to the point where Slovenian authorities were considering prosecuting Kunkel with a felony, further revealing how little human beings actually know about the epidemic affecting 33.2 million people worldwide. Yes, blood-sucking bugs paired with the concept of contracting HIV is not the most pleasant thought in the world, but mosquitos transmitting HIV is a myth that was successfully combatted by Kunkel, whether this was imparted long after the incident or not.
Another installation that I found socially “incisive” was Kunkel’s piece about plastic surgery. A possible parody of the children’s game “Operation,” Kunkel challenges preconceived notions of beauty by proposing that this game should create “undesirable” or “ugly” body parts, building from a perceptually mal-nourished, tummy-tucked and symmetrical model of an ideal body. The body parts come from molds that do not conform to chiseled, imaginary ideas of attractiveness. The “anti-plastic surgery” approaches the body in an inventive way rather than prescribe to already existing “molds.” In this way, Kunkel proposes that children autonomously create their bodies rather than imitate a model that is prescribed to them.

Kunkel’s work, unlike a lot of contemporary art I see, does not alienate me. Instead, it asks one to examine social myths that go uncontested to bolster the prevailing order, such as the stigmatism of people with HIV and chopped up plastic surgery beauties. What I also like about them is that they retain their art status by not being overtly didactic and allowing its message to seep in after one’s direct experience with it, such as the ambiguous smashing of the mosquito box and the intentional unleashing of a controversy that has no rational basis.

Week 4 Human Body by Marie De Austria

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Plastic surgery, nip tuck, tummy tuck, liposuction, nose job, boob job, veneers, botox. When we hear these words, we immediately think of an extreme makeover. Some people blame human vanity for the proliferation of surgically-aided transformations. But what about eyebrow waxing or plucking or threading? What about leg waxing? Tattoos? Piercing? These almost daily activities just pass through society without the shock and controversy that surgical transformations receive mainly because they are considered to be part of a good hygiene.

Whenever women put on makeup, shave their legs, pluck their eyebrows, wear heels, they are transforming themselves to conform to what society deems to be beautiful. Men are not immune to this conformity either. Not that these are negative, undesirable, or shameful but they challenge our notion of “natural beauty,” in the physical sense. What is natural beauty?

For as far back as history can record, humans have used their own bodies as canvases – living artworks among a crowd of men. Some cultures, like the Samoan culture, use tattoos as symbols of a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood.

Samoan tattoo

Natives painted their skin to camouflage and blend into their surroundings. Other natives used color to intimidate opposing tribes. Body art can also be used to express authority or power much like a royalty would adorn themselves with a crown and elaborate clothing.

Native American Tribal Chief

All of these are done to express pride for one’s identity, to follow tradition, and sometimes, for survival purposes. And all of these are perceived as beautiful or appealing.

But when is it too much? Where do we draw the line between what can be accepted as beautiful, artistic, and what may be deemed too elaborate or unnecessary?

Ironically, some beauty regimens were derived from oppressive ideas. The Padaung Tribe of Burma has a tradition of stretching their women’s neck as a symbol of their family’s wealth as well as to make their women look more attractive – the longer their necks, the wealthier the family and the more beautiful the woman. Medically speaking, however, those rings prevent their shoulders from developing properly, making their necks inefficient in supporting their heads. Therefore, taking those rings off their necks is essentially a slow execution for the woman as the weight of her head crushes her throat and suffocates her. Her husband is, by law, free to take off the rings when he feels that his wife has, in any way, been unfaithful to him.

Padaung Woman with her neck rings

In the East, China has a tradition of binding women’s feet because they thought that small feet were attractive and delicate – the smaller the feet, the more beautiful the woman. Parents subject their daughters to pain and suffering from a very young age in an effort to make them more attractive to men. As a consequence, however, the women essentially become crippled, their feet died, they get infections, or worse, they die.

There are many other things people have done in the name of beauty including wearing high heels, corsets, stretching their ears, cutting their tongues to look like a snake’s tongue. The difference, I guess, lies in the motivation behind the transformation – when the person ceases to be an artist and becomes just another used canvas. Children treated by the organization, Operation Smile, are what I can consider as works of art. Cases such as Michael Jackson fall under a more questionable category. To the extent that the surgery is done to give people the chance to live a more normal life or to express their pride, dignity, and culture rather than to feed one’s vanity, that is what I call art.

Week4/Medicine/James Martin

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

This week in lecture we discussed the human body and medicine and how we are advancing with technology. As time had progressed and especially more recently, we are advancing at an amazing rate and many new cure and creations are being formed within the medical field. The human body is an incredible piece of art itself, with many complex systems allowing for life. I found that the best piece of art that truly showed of the human body was the Body World exhibit. During my sophomore year in high school, I went to the Body World exhibit in Los Angeles with my family. At the time, I did not really see the significance in going. I was pretty young and did not want to go to a museum on my Saturday off but my family forced me to go.

To me at that age, it was very boring, but now that I look back, it truly was a great experience and I wish I could go again now that I am more mature. During the entire exhibit, every single piece of the human anatomy is broken down into pieces and slices. Gunther von Hagens is the creator of the exhibit and has created an amazing exhibit. He uses a technique called plastination to help make the bodies able to work with. Basically, plastination allows for the hardening of the bodies in order for Hagens to use the specimens and place them however he likes. The preserved human bodies are placed in an exhibit open to the public. The goal of this exhibit is to teach the common person about the human body and all of its functions. IT also promotes better health to all since it shows lungs of smokers, and other diseased organs. This is the worlds most largest touring attraction.

Another topic that I would like to discuss is plastic surgery. In my opinion plastic surgery is getting way out of hand and humans are becoming more and more fake. As the ideal beauty changes more, people feel the need to change themselves to make themselves look as “beautiful” as possible. In the past five years alone, plastic surgery has gone up at a very alarming rate. Breast implants are a very popular for high school graduates and the rate at which young women are getting surgery is also increasing. As the video we watched in lecture, plastic surgery is taking over and ruining some lives. People feel the need to keep going and want as much surgery as possible until they have gone too far and cannot go back. In my opinion, the natural human body is the best for of mankind. Our society is becoming fake as technology keeps increasing.

I love the fact that technology is advancing at a very rapid pace, but there are some areas in which there is no need for technology to get better. Medicine is getting complicated and we should keep the uses for good causes only. There are some areas in which technology can be bad.

James Martin

Week 4 / The Machinic Mind and Body, Free from Ghosts / stephany howard

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

I think we are living in a remarkable time.  I feel this way because we humans are beginning to understand our “selves” to be unstable, complex, emergent phenomena—as opposed to the dualistic, Cartesian view of the “self” as a metaphysical ghost in the machine, that acts freely from the physical laws that govern the rest of nature.

Some say that neuroscience is eroding the concept of “free will.”  I personally think that our notion of free will is logically impossible—if every action had a cause, (it wasn’t totally random), then you didn’t cause it either—something caused you to do what you did, so you didn’t choose that action free of cause.  Thus I eagerly embrace scientific findings (through neuroscience or physics for example) that may illustrate more empirically that human action and decision-making is more complex than we might suppose.

During the Battle of Ideas Festival 2007 , four intellectuals (Pierre Magistretti, David Perks, Jeffrey Rosen, Raymond Tallis) debated the topic of free will (or specifically the legal defense my brain made me do it) from a scientific, sociological, and philosophical point of view.

During this discussion, David Perks describes how science is changing our traditional models of human action.  Perks says that we have used the same model to describe human action for the last thousand years—a model of “purposeful intentionality,” that we are freely acting beings that act to satisfy goals, and we have projected this explanatory model onto other entities—like the social classes (Marx), the subconscious (Freud), and even God.  We see intentionality in everything, we animate every thing with the same intentionality we experience—we don’t imagine that these entities (and ourselves) could be acting physically within the deterministic trajectory of all physical things in nature, responding to and changing with the environment.

In the 1980’s Benjamin Libet performed a seminal experiment in which he measured whether or not the brain’s readiness potential (to make the body flick a wrist) corresponded with a person’s felt intention to flick her wrist.  He found that the brain showed activity to move the wrist 400 milliseconds before the subject perceived her intention to move her own wrist.  This would suggest that there are subconscious causes in the brain that lead to the very actions that we think we are somehow choosing freely.

(a diagram of readiness potential):

David Perks basically says that until recently there were lots of natural facts about us humans that we didn’t have much control over (like our impulses, desires, actions etc.), but that innovation in genetics, reproductive technology, and perhaps genomics may give rise to a major paradigm shift in our attitude about human nature.  He envisions (and I do too) this paradigm shift as a change in our attitude towards our bodies and brains. He says that “this bit of nature which was off limits until recently is now becoming something which we can hope to have a sort of technological attitude towards.”

I think that having a more technological attitude towards our bodies and brains opens up a world of possibilities, from a fundamental reconstruction of legal systems to physical enhancement (see transhumanism).  Some people say we may eventually overcome aging.  There are many artists who are already working within this new paradigm of approaching the human mind, body, and experience with a technological attitude–the human mind and body both are complex physical phenomena that we can strive to understand like the rest of nature’s mysteries—we aren’t somehow separate from nature.

Another Awesome link:

Stephany Howard

Art and Medicine/Jillian Cross

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

            While I believe that the human body in itself is an absolutely beautiful work of art, I chose to do my blog instead about the relationship between art and medicine. M. Therese Southgate, MD states that art and medicine “share a common goal: to complete what nature has not.” This statement alone inspired this blog.

            When I think about artists, I think about each of them sharing his or her individual perspective of something with the world. Artists can find beauty in everything and can expose this beauty to the world, something that nature may have not done. For example, an artist can take photographs of a war zone and find something beautiful like a flower growing despite the raging battles and show the world that there can be beauty in even a horrendous situation like war. By natural instinct, most men and women would never see that flower or feel those admiring feelings for a war ground without the aid of the artist exposing what nature could not.

            This article argues that although medicine has always been a science and an art, the more artistic period was of the past ( Now, the article argues that medicine is predominantly scientific with little art involved.

However, I do see that a doctor is working hard like an artist to complete what nature did not. Doctors are using their talents to help repair a work of art in itself-the human body. They need the same powers of observation as an artist and the same passion for their work to complete this task. Dr. Southgate stated that “[Medicine] 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.”

            If medicine is the art of doing, then I would equate typical artistry to the “art of seeing.” It takes a special sense to look upon something and see it in such a unique way that you want to expose it to the world. Both artists and doctors can look for things that are not always in plain sight. A doctor wants to help find a cure or help fix a part of a body and the artist wants to see something that has not been shown or expressed before.

As Hippocrates stated in his Oath, “With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art.” His Art is the practice of medicine. Doctors and artists both have the same passion for their job and “pass their lives” practicing their own forms of art to the best of their abilities. Artists and doctors share many of the same talents and skills to complete their respective goals. One of the main skills as observed by Dr. Southgate is: “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.” This is fascinating because I never realized how similar these two professions really are. To equate unlocking a paint to finding a patient’s predicament is an ingenuous idea and really sheds a new light on the art and medicine relationship.

            In this art exhibit (, the medicine of the Ancient Egyptians is presented to the world in an artistic manner. There are portraits of mummies, intricate sculptures used as a “magical container” for the protection of women, manuscripts that are displayed as art. As you can see, art and medicine have been intertwined for thousands of years.

            This video ( takes an artistic view of medicine and choreographs the insides of a body to music. This is just another example of how art and science (medicine) will forever be intertwined.


Useful/Appropriate Links:

Week 4/ Beauty of the Body/Tammy Le

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Art has moved from merely paintings on a canvas, sculptures of clay, and dancing and symphonies on a stage to another medium: the human body.  Although I believe the human body in itself is a piece of artwork -all the bones, veins, cells, and organs working harmoneously to sustain a human life form- a new perception of the body as a canvas has slowly become more prominent in society as more people turn to body modification and plastic surgery to express their artistic views.  New medical techniques and methods has enabled people to pursue their artistic endeavours of transforming their bodies or the bodies of others into works of art.  There lies contradicting views toward body modification in society.  While plastic surgery and cosmetic ehancement such as breast augmentation, lip fillers, and botox has become widely accepted, more extreme expressions of changing the body is seen as tabu and suffers distaste and lack of understanding from others.

The first of the pictures illustrates Nicole Kidman’s transformation with cosmetic procedures and make up that is widely accepted by society and often a look pursued by others hoping to change their body.  Not only are her changes an expression of herself, but the artist expression of the doctors that conducted the procedures on her and the make up artists who were able to add color to enhance and contour her facial features.  Their ability and skill to sculpt and mold the human face and body is the same as the skills of any painter or sculptor who has perfected their craft and expresses through some sort of medium; for surgeons and make up artists it is the human body. 

For people like Eric Sprague, also known as the “Lizard Man,” their expression of art comes in more extreme forms of body modification that ventures outside the norm of cosmetic beauty and reflects their individual perception of themselves and how their body should be.  Much like recent technological advances and procedures have helped millions of people get plastic surgery to enhance what their body already possesses, many are using them in order to add more prominent changes to their bodies that are not necessarily an enahncement of their human features, but a projection of their more artistic and spiritual features.  Today’s technology and surgical procedures allow artists to highlight their views and ideas  through their body.  Eric Sprague has not only tatooed his skin to resemble that of a lizard’s, but has also modified his tongue to parallel the forked tongue of reptiles. Rather than expressing their creativity through paintings on paper or sculpting with clay, some artists turn to permanently painting their work on their skin and molding and sculpting their bodies to display their imagination.  People like Eric Sprague are able to share their artwork with the world anywhere they go, spreading their art with hopes of engaging more appreciation for this newer form of artistic expression.

week 4 \ relevant links \ alberto

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

WEEK4/The conciousness/ Patrick Morales

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

The human body has been the fascination of artist and scientist alike for centuries because it presents us humans with an ironic dichotomy.  We all “posses” a body, we make “it” function everyday, but despite our control over its muscular tissue and nerve cells there is still much mystery lying in our cells.  Some of my favorite works of art take advantage of our ignorance of the complex components of the body, in particular the greatest unknown part of the body, the brain.  Not only do the physical and biological characteristics fascinate me, but the fact that the brain is the supposed birthplace of the consciousness is what drives my interest.  Can the consciousness be considered part of the human body?  If so, where is this little grasshopper in tuxedo hiding?

If you look really close you can see the consciousness about 2 seconds in.

In the animated film Paprika directed by Satoshi Kon, a device allows therapists to enter the dreams of their patients.  What results is a dive into a highly artistic and mad ride into the human consciousness.  It is precisely the unknown possibilities related to the consciousness that create the “canvas” for artist and scientist to hypothesize the possibilities of this great unknown “thing” supposedly living inside our brain.  I highly recommend this movie (yes it is anime, but its no Pokémon) because it is a fantastic piece of art that has a scientific basis.
Another great artist that inspires me is Henry Gray.  His anatomical drawings of the human body first strike me as fine art rather than some diagram that doctors use to memorize the human body.  A certain love must take hold of an artist for him/her to so meticulously take something as complex as the human form and not only attempt, but to successfully diagram the body.  Especially in the absence of new age 3D technology, Gray must have been mad about the human body to spend his time on his drawings.   This certain madness must have inspired him to map the human body in order to help us understand its systems and processes.

Gray is foremost and artist, then he is a doctor.

Of particular interest to me is the mapping of the brain.  Today scientists know that things aren’t so simple as reading the bumps on ones head.  What I look forward to is the day when we can finally map more than the biological aspects of the brain, but the consciousness.  Imagine if we could map someone’s memories or consciousness and transfer them onto some graphical interface for everyone to see.  Think of the possibilities.  I know I haven’t answered any of the answers I posed at the beginning of the blog, but THAT is exactly the point.  We know little of the consciousness so it is up to the imagination of each of us to create possible treasure maps to the goal of finding that damn grasshopper.

Phrenology Map

Week 4/ The Human Body/ Andrew Curnow

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

This week in our lectures, professor Vesna discussed and touched upon various points of both Science and Art within the medical field. Whether through practices of old ‘medical’ treatments to the innovative new technology and science used in medicine and art in the present day, an obvious transformation in the medical world is evident. However one facet of the medical world has remained constant through the ages, and that is the piece of art that is the Human Body. Whether being utilized in the field of medicine, art or experimentation, the human body is an extremely ornate and complex creation. One particularly intriguing depiction of the human body was shown in the MRI images of a human from head to toe. Though some may not see the ‘art’ in such a procedure I found it undoubtedly, if not slightly hauntingly, beautiful. It showed the various parts of the body in a form many are not used to seeing, allowing an almost new perception of ones self to be formed, perhaps taking the term ‘inner beauty’ to a new level. Another example of the human body in art was through the Body World exhibit, of which I able to experience first hand. Last summer, during a family trip to San Diego, I went to a Body World museum, witnessing first hand the –dried out- human bodies posing and demonstrating various muscle functions of the body. I will not lie, at first I was slightly disturbed thinking to myself only someone sick in the head would want to set out human bodies for the public in his or her name, but as I continued walking I discovered an almost eerie beauty in each piece.

Albeit educational, the experience gave me the ability to truly understand that the human body in its entirety is the ultimate work of art that many people take for granted everyday. Though outer beauty is based on opinion, what makes up every person in our species is near identical, and to be honest a near work of perfection. This brings me to my next point. Although in my opinion the human body is quite possibly the most eloquent object available in medicine and art, the availability brings inevitable destruction at times. The recent upheaval of plastic surgery and breast augmentation surgery is both alarming and saddening. The horrifying fact that breast augmentation surgery is quickly becoming the most popular high school graduation gift for teenage girls brings forth the thought that many people, if not invariably the MAJORITY of people, take their bodies for granted.

Though some say these changes in the body’s appearance is an art in itself, even leaving the dangers aside I believe it is ludicrous to tamper with such a beautiful thing in nature simply to ‘feel prettier’. Through this week’s lectures I drew a simple conclusion to myself: Though for ages the human body was a mystery in both medicine and art, as we begin to understand it more in the present, more do people willingly enjoy destroying what was given to them.

Week IV \ Nathan Reynolds

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

With everyone seemingly focused on the now and extreme attention placed on remaining young, it seems as though the quest for longevity has lost relevance.  The media relentlessly stresses the importance of remaining young and beautiful, driving men and women to undergo ridiculous amounts of procedures just to look younger for a few more years.

The entire practice is a vortex, dragging more and more people into fanaticism over a new spring filling the fountain of youth.  That spring is cosmetic surgery.   According to statistics posted by the website entitled “Plastic Surgery Research,” 11.7 million cosmetic surgeries took place during the year 2007 alone.  With such procedures becoming more and more readily available to the general public, these numbers have, and will continue to increase.

The biggest problem, however, is not the statistic, but the motive.  The desire to be accepted by means of enhancements and augmentations that are not natural is a sad commentary on our society in and of itself.  If people cannot accept themselves, how can they expect the whole of society to accept them at all?

Another problem with these procedures is that there are a number of imposters and con-artists in the business attempting to make a quick profit.  Countless horror stories circulate the media of how uncertified cosmetic surgeons operate on unassuming patients, only to have horrifying end results and disfigured bodies.  One such case is that of Tara Reid, whose surgery resulted in extremely noticeable lopsided breasts and other visible damage from a cellulite treatment and a tummy tuck.  These horror stories do nothing more than contribute to the anxiety of people who aren’t content with themselves and want such procedures.

Because of this unhealthy infatuation with youth, much of society has taken for granted one simple fact: we are living practically twice as long as our great grandparents and ancestors did decades and centuries ago because of benevolent medicine and improved living conditions.  While we worry now about how to look 30 instead of 40, our predecessors focused on staying alive beyond 30.  Science has come a long way since then, and is has worked amazingly well in extending the lives of people today.

Combining science with preexisting genetic superiority might prove to be the best way in preserving lives, and youth, without the need of invasive cosmetic procedures or other surgical procedures.  An example of genetic longevity comes from Tuti Yusupowa, a woman who was born in 1880 and still lives today.  The amazing thing about this woman is the fact that she comes from Uzbekistan, a place where the life expectancy is between 65 and 70 years.  This shows that some people are born with traits that emphasize certain characteristics such as longevity.

Science and technology relating towards health and medicine must advance beyond a simple process of quilting the flesh to appear younger.  More complex processes such as alteration at the genetic level may make more natural change possible in place of the invasive surgeon’s knife.  Pledging benevolence can only go so far when a cutting tool is required to finish the job.



week 4 \ The Noble Role of the Physician \ Fabrice Keto

Sunday, February 1st, 2009


As Hippocrates states so eloquently in his oath, physicians are people who are willing to take an oath to dedicate their lives to bettering those of others.  In taking this oath, physicians promise to help heal the ill to the fullest of their abilities.  In Rembrant’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr.  Tulp, the men in the painiting are very attentively listening to the lecture on the human body given by Dr. Tulp.  During the 17 century, anatomy lessons were social events that took place in theatres and lecture halls, with the payment of an entrance fee, highlighting the fact that learning about the human body was something that has been popular for an extremely long time.

Furthermore, it has been noted that the painter Rembrandt, has depicted the muscles and tendons in the painting with extreme accuracy, which relates to the concept of the link between art and science.  It has been speculated that Rembrandt copied the depiction of the muscles and tendons from a textbook, which shows that he as an artist needed to gain medical knowledge about the human body before creating such a painting. 

Additionally, this painting was of personal significance to Rembrandt because it is the first time he signed a painting in the top-left hand corner, instead of with his initials, which can perhaps be attributed to the fact that he learned a great deal of medical knowledge from having to do this painting or that he was proud to be depicting a scene reflecting the nobility of the oath Hippocrates wrote. 

Another linking of art and medical science is seen in The Agnew Clinic where an artist, Thomas Eakins, was commissioned to honor the anatomist and surgeon, David Hayes Agnew.  The fact that another artist dedicated a sgifnicant portion of his life to painting portraits glorifying the profession of physicians futher highlights the significance of physicians in society. 

This painting parallels the Rembrandt’s painting in that it also depicts a group of people observing the dissection of  the human body.  Futhermore, this painting amplifies the previous paintings characteristics because it depicts an even larger group of people observing the dissection and, thus, further helps the viewer understand that dissections truly were social events viewed by large numbers of people.  Additionally, in this painting, there are four doctors conducting the lesson, instead of only one as in the previous painting, as well as a nurse to help the process along as well. 

What is controversial about this painting, and what I also find slightly odd, is that it is a women being dissected and studied in front of a large group of only men.  I wonder why it could not be a group of men observing the dissection of a man.  Also, I find it odd that there are no women in the audience observing the dissection.  My conclusion is that this was during a time when only men were allowed to be physicians, and women were still expected to live and work in the home. 

As a young man who wants to become a phycian in the future, I want to one day take great pride in the fact that there have been painters who have dedicated time and effort to creating paintings that reflect the pursuit of knowledge that will one day characterize my job.  After reading Hippocrates’ oath I realize the standard that I will need to live up to and the sacrifices I will need to make in order to become a doctor worthy of the noble descriptions of doctors written by Hippocrates.

Week 4//Medical Advances and art// yu hsiao

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

This week we talked about many medical technological advances. Much of the advances bothered me. We talked about Body Worlds, which is something that I am very familiar with. I volunteered for the Tech Museum in San Jose, California, and they had an exhibition of Body Worlds 2. In the exhibition, I expected to just find samples of bodies preserved by the technique of plastination invented by Von Hagens. But instead I found many different bodies in many different postures, and expressions. There wasa skating double, looking just like the competitors from winter Olympics but without their skin to cover who they really are inside. There was a woman, who had wings, made of her own shoulders, probably modified by the artists who worked with these human beings. What I realized was that, those people who dealt with these bodies aren’t just scientists who plastinate bodies and preserve them just for show. They’re treating those dead bodies as the medium to their art. They’re reconstructing the bodies, to express different pictures. Each piece of the exhibition was almost like a painting, with stories behind it. This reminded me of the Oath by Hippocrates. In the Oath, there were a lot of references to the “art”. In a way, doctors, anatomists treat human body as their medium of art, and what they do, to them, is considered as an art, just like artists who deal with sculptures, or paintings.
The scary thing was, the stories behind each painting are real. Beside the story that the plastination anatomist is trying to tell, there’s real stories behind the bodies who lived their life, and their bodies are now being shown to the world. I found it kind of scary and disturbing to accept. I think it is okay to use the body to represent the people who they were. Say if a human body donor was a skater, then it would be okay to represent his/her plastinatedbody as a skater skating, because that lets his/her identity live on. But to use the body to make an art piece completely unrelated to the deceased person is not really appropriate. I saw one piece of the exhibition was called the exploded man. It was a piece where everywhere single vital part of the body is seperated, to create an “exploded” view. I thought the image of the exploded man was very disturbing. In a sense, I perceived it as a man who’s been hit by a bomb is exploding into smithereens. Though I acknowledge that those bodies are from donors who were willing to donate body to this cost. But I personally do not think the person would have liked his body to be displayed in that manner. Here is an image of the exploded man:

In the lecture, we also touched on the subject of plastic surgey. A French artist, Orlan, uses plastic surgery as her tool to make art, and she experiments art on herself, performing numerous cosmetic surgical operations. This is truly shocking, along with many other celeberties who use cosmetic surgeries to reshape themselves, and make themselve more beautiful. Orlan considers her work as a new form, and a justired form of art. She says “Art has to shock to justify itself.” Like the anatomist in body worlds mentioned above, these individuals are breaking grounds, using flesh as their medium to defy the conventional perception of beauty, and expression.

I think the advance of this form of plastic technology on human flesh brings both extreme cases that bothers us but it is also useful for many other things, in technological point of view. The advance in this type of technology is like the advance of freedom of speech. Once the freedom of speech is allowed, the boundry of the things people say is limitless. As we know, it brings both good and bad results to society. So does the plastic technology we’re talking about. The cosmetic surgical technology allows a patient whose face might be badly disfigured in a car accident to be reconstructed and reshaped, so the patient could return to normal life. But this also allows, people who are free thinkers, and in some people’s eyes, crazy souls who perform those surgeries to make themselve closer to perfection, or in some cases, like Orlan, to redefine beauty, and to revolt against the conventional way of thinking.

Week 4- Human Body and Medicine- Gindy Nagabayashi

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Body Modifications: Human body Canvas

The idea of tattoos has been a part of many different cultures for centuries including the use of temporary tattoos in traditional Indian weddings called henna. The body becomes a tool of self- expression, culture, and homage to tradition.

Upon research on tattoos, I came across something called body modifications, which goes beyond tattoos. People are using many different mediums to express art on their bodies including corset piercing, subdermal implantations, scarification, and branding to name a few. I found corset piercing especially beautiful but conflicting. The corset was once used to bind women into an hourglass shape, restricting movement. It is also a symbol of social standing and beauty. I think it is an expression of femininity for the corset to be physically on the body.

Corset Piercing

Corset Piercing

It’s fascinating that art and technology are moving at such a fast pace, while society as a whole is playing catch up. For example, tattoos were once considered taboo in American society. Only recently has it become more acceptable and commonplace. Body modifications I think are still considered taboo or as my roommate called it “weird”. People are finding new ways of self expression, but because the expressions are so foreign, society is not as accepting. It takes those individuals willing to step out of the norm to open the doors for the rest of us.

-Gindy Nagabayashi

Week 4: Medical technology nightmare By: Claudia Zapien

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

The topic covered in class this week was one of great interest to me. This week was an eye opener when it comes to the advances in technology that have developed through the years. Obviously there is much need for better procedures and tools that will help the efficiency of the medical practice. I believe that technology advances can be credited to a lot of wonderful things such as the invention of better equipment to diagnose medical problems and in the advancement of medications to help cure or control medical problems. As time goes by we have eradicated a lot of diseases by the just introducing vaccinations that will prevent or lessen the symptoms of many diseases that just 20 years ago were fatal. The development of better medication has also decreased the death percentage of patients with AIDS, cancer, heart problems and so much more. The fact that technology has helped the medical field is not in question, but the fact that technology has also harmed the principles of which the medical fields was based on is in question.
The problems with all of the advances in technology is that this can also be used in a negative way. The most obvious example of medicine used in a manner that is not necessary and dangerous is in plastic surgery. The goal of the medical field was to make life better. It seems now a days it isn’t about making people well but about who and what medical procedures give doctors and their practices greaterrevenue. People are no longer seen as patients who need medical services to survive, but they are seen as piggy banks that will pay ridiculous amounts of money to achieve “perfection” and to look beautiful or unique in the eyes of society. Doctors take the oat to save lives and it is my opinion that it is wrong for a doctor to think that it is in the best interest of women who aren’t even 21 year of age to have breast augmentation. The brain of any person before the age of 21 isn’t fully developed regardless of the degree of maturity that the person might demonstrate. Just the pure fact that a person who is healthy would be  whiling to risk their safety and health to alter their body to look better is a red flag that this person should be evaluated by a psychiatrist and might need to get psychological help to deal with  their body image problems. Plastic surgery was developed as a mean to help people who were born with deformities or who suffered horrific accidents that deformed their body and plastic surgery was used as a way to rectify that problem. It seems that now it is the lesser case where people use plastic surgery as a medical necessity and most of the plastic surgery done is more to conform to the image of what beauty and perfection is in society.  It is ironic that doctor will take perfectly healthy people and perform procedures that may potentially harm their body, health and even mental state. It seems that the more evolved we have become with technology and the more able we are to help those that truly need help, the more we have drifted from what real medicine is. 

Before the surgery

Before the surgery

After plastic surgery

After plastic surgery

Plastic surgery is only one of the negatives aspects technology in the medical field. It also seems that as more advanced we get the higher it is to provide medical help to people. Instead of developing new tools and medications to make them more cost efficient to the patients we are putting new medications and tools for auction and they are being sold to the highest bitter. Those who have the money get the best hospitals. Hospitals that are better equipped with the technology and staff to provide the best care possible. People who cannot afford medication or certain procedures are being left to worsen as their conditions progress and it is a shame that there are people out there that abuse the medical field by subjecting themselves to procedure that aren’t needed or use medication that they do not need to numb themselves from the world or to be able to deal with life’s demands. I feel that as technology gets better it should require less time and manpower to help people and therefore cost should decrease. Unfortunately that isn’t the way that industries and insurances work. People that want cutting edge facilities pay more and those who can afford to have any type of health care are left with whatever they can afford. I wish that i can see the day where we can evolve as caring human being along with technology and put people’s need first above our own selfish ones.
-Claudia Zapien

Week4/Mission Eternity by Lam Tran

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

So I stumbled upon Mission Eternity while I was looking through the art links on the desma9 website.

So summarize the project, Its basically a bunch of “Angels” sharing bits of their computer memory to store information about people. The collective information then goes into a “Arcanum Capsule.” Its basically everything about a certain person… Digitized. Artists are hired to make these random tidbits of information less scattered and more visually pleasing.

In a nutshell, its using technology to basically make sure a certain person is not forgotten.

This requires a huge maintence crew and large staff to countinually improving and adding more into the project. It is currently too expensive to be offered to the public. Whether or not it will charge customers to have their life digitzed is uncertain. One would assume that maybe the company, etoy, would charge its customers to make up for the huge development expense. There is more to the project like the Mission Eternity logo will be on the tombstone of a person that has their life stored away in an arcanum capsule and bridges, which is like a high tech display room where you can view an arcanum capsule.

But is it worth it? One can argue that you cannot put a price tag on memories. Others can argue that what makes a person’s digitized remains more important than another or that having the memories of someone that passed away in the minds of their loved ones enough. The purpose of this lif e is to preserve life and art in a way but very expensively. They do try to collect money from governments and private investors for their project but I feel that they will still have to charge customers to have their memories stored. Probably their life will be open to the public once the project is done. To put it blunt, I think this is stupid.  Sure it may look cool, seeing a bunch of images and hearing the voice of a person in a room surronded by monitors but it would still be cool if it was of something else. Perhaps having it be about a certain person makes it more meaningful, it will cost hundreds of thousands of more dollars. This reminds me of something I saw on TV a long time ago; you use to be able to name a star after you for a small fee. Its a low tech version of this Mission Eternity. You have your name remembered forever in a way, but then again, who knows the  these stars that are named after people? Who will go to Mission Eternity after it is finished? I feel like it is wasted capital.

Lam Tran

Week 4\Skin Man\Marian Portugal

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

In my opinion, this week’s topic, Human Body and Medicine, was one of the most interesting topics that our class has gone over.  I think this is because as a south campus major, anything that is related to biology, or ay type of science naturally intrigues me and catches my attention.  The part of Thursday’s lecture that interested me the most was when our professor mentioned Body Worlds.  During my freshman year of high school, my biology teacher was offering extra credit to those who attended the Body Worlds Exhibition at the Los Angeles Science Center.  Unfortunately, however, I was unable to take this opportunity, but my desire to go to the exhibition still remains. 

I believe that Body Worlds is the epitome of the human body and art.  First of all, Gunther von Hagen uses real human bodies in his exhibitions, not fake imitations, so that his audience can see the true beauty of human nature.  It’s amazing how these bodies are plastinated, in which all of the water and fat are replaced with plastic.  Hagen further uses his creativity in which each of his exhibitions focus on a certain part of the body.  These include an emphasis on the brain, heart, and how we age with time.  Also, Hagen places the bodies in different positions to help stress what he wants to stand out. 

One specific piece that caught my attention was Skin Man, which was presented in London.  It is of a man holding up his own skin, as if it were a blanket in his hand.  It is mind blowing to see the blanket of skin because it is easily defined, in which it is obvious to determine which part belonged to which section of the body. 

I also found it fascinating that Hagen’s Skin Man came from an actual person.  When I was looking at pictures of Body Worlds Exhibits, I often forgot that these bodies belonged to people who were once alive and breathing.  I believe that this aspect of Body World’s is what helps constitute it as “art.”  The fact that Body World’s pieces are made of once living organisms creates a connection between humans and art.


Week 4/Virgil Wong/Amy Chen

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

This week I looked at the works of Virgil Wong who is an artist/filmmaker interested in the human body, medicine and technology.  A lot of his works are a combination between technology and art.  He especially uses design as an proponent for convincing viewers of his pieces’ legitimacy.  

One of his works, titled Male Pregnancy (1999,2002) is an interactive site which allows viewers to examine the “pregnant” man’s vitals, journals about his days being pregnant, and so forth.  There is even a FAQ page where he doctors claim that male pregnancy is indeed possible.  It was really interesting to just read and move around the site, checking pictures of his ultrasounds and magazine covers.  Although acknowledging that both the man pregnant and Virgil who created the sites are artists, Virgil purports that the man is indeed pregnant and the event is not a hoax.  It’s also funny how the site is semi-modern; it has article titles such as “Mr. Lee Mingwei congratulates fellow pregnant dad Thomas Beattie.”  I can understand how at the time (1999) convincing viewers of an actual pregnant man raises a lot of interesting and moral questions.  Would different chemicals produce an actual living baby?  Is this wrong?  God didn’t make men to be pregnant.  As in an question and answer process, Thomas Beattie’s example was an amazing tie into a real event and real questions to consider.

 Thomas Beattie is a transgendered male who decided to keep her reproductive rights.  After finding out his wife was sterile, he decided to carry the baby instead.  From what I’ve read, Thomas has successfully carried the baby to full term and is now the father of a beautiful baby girl, Susan.  There was a lot of controversy behind the situation as many didn’t feel it right for a transgendered male to be carrying a baby.  At the same, this work by Virgil Wong and real event turns heads towards morality.  Beattie mentions, ”Wanting to have a biological child is neither a male nor female desire, but a human desire.”  Is it wrong to reject a person’s right to happiness and a family? > Virgil Wong > For more on Thomas Beattie


Thomas Beatie

Thomas Beatie

 On a side note, it was overall really interesting to read on Virgil Wong.  He is extremely passionate about his art and credits his mom for his passion.  At one point of his mother’s life she developed a tumor behind her eye.  When he apologized for not becoming a physician instead of an artist his mom grabbed his hand and replied “Medicine keeps us alive but art is about why we live.”

Week 4/ Make Art Stop Aids/Kelly Tseng

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

I found this week’s lectures to be extremely interesting since it was a unification of the two topics we discussed during first week—science and art. It was great to see these two very diverse cultures coalesce into one beautiful production. It reminded me of the internationally renowned traveling exhibition, Make Art/Stop Aids, which debuted here at our very own UCLA’s Fowler Museum last year. I actually had the chance to go view the amazing pieces and was astounded by the creations of the various artists. Oftentimes individuals proclaim that they do not understand the confusing realm of science because they are artists and vice versa. Well, with ingenious inventions that combine the two realms together, I feel that that “language barrier” can be overcome. An unstoppable epidemic that our world has been battling for ages, AIDS and HIV are presented at this exhibition where artists propose, through their eyes, a means to extinguish this global AIDS. I believe that by communicating this major health issue that has apparently plagued countless innocent lives through art is a highly effective way because the message is conveyed through the medium of science and art. The above piece is known as “Medicine Man,” constructed by Goldstein and Kapella.  The piece consists of syringes and almost 300 empty pill bottles that once contained the artists’ antiviral medication.  The image below was constructed by a Brazilian artist Adriana Bertini who put together an evening gown consisting of red-dyed factory-rejected condoms. Regardless of the artwork, I believe that the human body, a remarkable biological system, is a piece of art, itself, and the means to communicate science through art, or art through science is an amazing phenomenon that has swept the fields of both.

week 4/Cybernetics/Akhil Rangaraj

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

This week’s topic of medicine was very interesting, especially the movie clips. The concept of a dystopian future that is caused by technological advances that have been used for evil purposes is fascinating. One of my favorite movies of all time, Gattaca, pursues this theme with the ideas of genetic engineering taken to the extreme. Genome sequencing technologies are advancing rapidly, and there is talk of insurance agencies requesting genetic profiles to receive coverage. It actually might not be far fetched that in 50 years we will be living in the world of Gattaca where everyone’s flaws are engineered out at conception.
One of the more interesting links I saw on the class website was Kevin Warwicks’ site. Kevin Warwick is a professor of cybernetics in the United Kingdom. Although he has done much work in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence, he is most well known for implanting various electronic elements into his body. He started out by implanting a simple RFID chip into his skin, which he used to control the lighting, heat, and other proximity based systems. He then implanted a neural sensor into the nerves near his wrist which was able to pick up detailed nerve impulses going to his hands. One of his colleagues was able to build a robotic hand that would mimic the actions his flesh and blood hand. He went even further and implanted a chip into his wife that allowed her to “feel” what he was “feeling” at a time, or a digital form of telepathy.

This research garnered quite a bit of controversy because it kind of changed the definition of humanity. Through the use of neural implants, the world could see a network of humanity, not just a network of humans. This research is also very important in that it can be used to help persons with physical disablities. One could replace or recreate limbs at will. This would improve the quality of life for the vast majority of people with disabilities. However, the ethical implications of this are very complex as well. Do we let people who are otherwise healthy replace their bodies with mechanical parts that are stronger, better, and faster than their flesh counterparts? What happens if the software used to drive this is corrupted or compromised? These questions are very interesting.