Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week 4: Medicine, Technology, and Art

The purpose of medical technologies usually brings to mind advancements in healthcare facilities aimed solely at treating and alleviating human illnesses. Through this week's lecture, we saw the synergy between medical technologies and art, as well as how the former can be incorporated into art itself.

Visual depictions serve as an invaluable tool to learning in general. Our understanding of the human anatomy may be quite advanced, but we do not have many visual understanding of the underlying mechanisms of body process that happens everyday. Perhaps the most well-known contributor to the field of biomedical animation is Drew Berry, whose visualizations of cellular and molecular processes possess both the scientific accuracy and aesthetic appeal, and garnered him international recognition such as the Emmy Award. In the article "Where Cinema and Biology Meet", the author Erik Olsen likened Berry to Steven Spielberg of molecular animation, asserting that Berry's work is "revered for artistry and accuracy within the small community of molecular animators, and has also been shown in museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris." 

Another artist that stood out from this week's lecture is Orlan, a French artist, who first used cosmetic surgery as an artist medium, with the goal of achieving the ideal of beauty as depicted by male artists. By the end of the surgeries, she would have "the chin of Botticelli’s Venus, the nose of Jean-Léon Gérôme's Psyche, the lips of François Boucher's Europa, the eyes of Diana (as depicted in a 16-th century French School of Fountaineblue painting), and the forehead of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa." This, in fact, was the ultimate goal of her project "The Reincarnation of Saint Orlan", which was exclusively featured in the documentary Carnal Art
Orlan: Before and After
Though many commentators views Orlan's artistic endeavors to be a form of self-destruction, Orlan maintains that her goal was to "sculpt my own body to reinvent the self" to create "a clash with society because of that". Evidently, her artistic pursuits served as a testament of her self-expression. 

The aforementioned examples are but a few of the many ways in which medical technologies and art go hand in hand. Be it a method of self-expression, or as a visualization that appeals to both scientific and artistic audiences, the merits of the synergy between the two should nevertheless be marveled at. 


1. Vesna, Victoria. “Medicine Parts 1-3.” Lecture. Web. 24. April. 2016.

2. Erik Olsen. "Where Cinema and Biology Meet". The New York Times. 15 Nov. 2010. Web. 24 April 2016.


3. Orlan – Carnal Art (2001) Documentary. Dir. Stéphan Oriach. Perf. Orlan. N.d. Film. YouTube. Web. 24 April. 2012. 

4. Jeffries, Stuart. "Orlan's Art of Sex and Surgery." The Guardian. 1 July 2009. Web. 24 April 2016. <>.

5. Orlan. Pinterest. N.d. Web. 24 April 2016.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that visual aids help tremendously when trying to learn and the evolution of biomedical technologies to utilize pictures, such as MRIs and X-rays, are invaluable to not only to help people but also serve as a unique art form that helps depict the functionality of the human body. I still think Orlan's use of medical procedures as a visual artistic art form is still strange, but I agree it is art nonetheless.