Week 4: Medical Technology + Art

Sculptures and models of cytoskeletal microfilaments
While there may be some extent to which medicine influences art, the impact is most likely limited at most. This was my initial perspective before studying this week’s materials as I had never thoroughly thought about the connections between art and medicine.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a procedure I have never experienced, is one example Dr. Vesna as well as Silvia Casini mentions. They contend that “an MRI examination, in fact, is acoustic even when the noise of the machine, the voice of the actors involved in the procedure, and the noise present in the images themselves are continually hushed by those who create and read the images after the examination” (Casini 76). This perspective is one I had never considered since I considered the sounds that the machine emits is simply a by-product of the procedure. However, once someone focuses on the sounds, it is possible that a rhythm can be detected. Consequently, the loud noise and rhythm in addition to the mirrors create a scenario in which the subject is seemingly removed from the world and becomes isolated in another reality.

A patient seeks to overcome her arachnophobia with VR therapy
Another example that expands on the idea of another world is virtual reality. With virtual reality, the person wearing the headset enters a different reality not only visually but also tactilely. Diane Gromala mentions that, despite being on Earth, the headset tricks the mind and body into partially believing in the virtual reality. As a result, she suggests a medical procedure of allowing patients to take part in this art is similar to a therapeutic effect, “a drug trip.”

Orlan, a French artist, is best-known for her work with plastic surgery
Finally, and more explicitly, is the instance of a woman named Orlan using plastic surgery, something I do not intend on having performed on me to depict art, not beauty. This woman drastically changes her appearance through a series of through a series of operations in order to resemble qualities of particular famous paintings. She hopes to elucidate how science and technology can change and manipulate the human body to create a work of art, which is similar to some extent with Casini’s proposal that science and technology with the human body can produce artworks.

Works Cited
Casini, Silvia. "Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) as Mirror and Portrait: MRI Configurations between Science and the Arts." Configurations 19.1 (2011): 73-99. Web.
Ingber, Donald E. "The Architecture of Life." Sci Am Scientific American 278.1 (1998): 48-57. Web.
MutleeIsTheAntiGod. "Orlan - Carnal Art (2001) Documentary." YouTube. YouTube, 13 Mar. 2011. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.
TEDxTalks. "TEDxAmericanRiviera - Diane Gromala - Curative Powers of Wet, Raw Beauty." YouTube. YouTube, 07 Dec. 2011. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.
Uconlineprogram. "Medicine Pt1, Pt2, Pt3." YouTube. YouTube, 21 Apr. 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.


  1. I agree with you in that the connection between art and medicine is quite limited. I have experienced an MRI before and I remember there being a distinct noise of the machine. I like how you tied this experience to a sort of virtual reality. I hadn't thought about this before this weeks lectures. It is a pretty fascinating concept. I was also intrigued and somewhat disturbed by the work of Orlan. I don't believe that this is good for societies view on beauty.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts