Although largely unknown today, during his lifetime Mutio Oddi of Urbino (1569–1639) was a highly esteemed scholar, teacher, and practitioner of a wide range of disciplines related to mathematics. A prime example of the artisan-scholar so prevalent in the late Renaissance, Oddi was also accomplished in the fields of civil and military architecture and the design and retail of mathematical instruments, as well as writing and publishing.
In Between Raphael and Galileo, Alexander Marr resurrects the career and achievements of Oddi in order to examine the ways in which mathematics, material culture, and the book shaped knowledge, society, and the visual arts in late Renaissance Italy. Marr scrutinizes the extensive archive of Oddi papers, documenting Oddi’s collaboration with prominent intellectuals and officials and shedding new light on the practice of science and art during his day. What becomes clear is that Oddi, precisely because he was not spectacularly innovative and did not attain the status of a hero in modern science, is characteristic of the majority of scientific practitioners and educators active in this formative age, particularly those whose energetic popularization of mathematics laid the foundations for the Scientific Revolution. Marr also demonstrates that scientific change in this era was multivalent and contested, governed as much by friendship as by principle and determined as much by places as by purpose.
Plunging the reader into Oddi’s world, Between Raphael and Galileo is a finely wrought and meticulously researched tale of science, art, commerce, and society in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century. It will become required reading for any scholar interested in the history of science, visual art, and print culture of the Early Modern period.
Since the time of Aristotle, the making of knowledge and the making of objects have generally been considered separate enterprises. Yet during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the two became linked through a "new" philosophy known as science. In The Body of the Artisan, Pamela H. Smith demonstrates how much early modern science owed to an unlikely source-artists and artisans.
From goldsmiths to locksmiths and from carpenters to painters, artists and artisans were much sought after by the new scientists for their intimate, hands-on knowledge of natural materials and the ability to manipulate them. Drawing on a fascinating array of new evidence from northern Europe including artisans' objects and their writings, Smith shows how artisans saw all knowledge as rooted in matter and nature. With nearly two hundred images, The Body of the Artisan provides astonishingly vivid examples of this Renaissance synergy among art, craft, and science, and recovers a forgotten episode of the Scientific Revolution-an episode that forever altered the way we see the natural world.
Devised in the 1940s by the biologist C. H. Waddington, the epigenetic landscape is a metaphor for how gene regulation modulates cellular development. As a scientific model, it fell out of use in the late 1960s but returned at the beginning of the twenty-first century with the advent of big-data genomic research because of its utility among scientists across the life sciences to think more creatively about and to discuss genetics. In Epigenetic Landscapes Susan Merrill Squier follows the model’s cultural trail, from its first visualization by the artist John Piper to its use beyond science. Squier examines three cases in which the metaphor has been imaginatively deployed to illustrate complex systems that link scientific and cultural practices: graphic medicine, landscape architecture, and bioArt. Challenging reductive understandings of epigenetics, Squier boldly reclaims the broader significance of the epigenetic landscape as a figure at the nexus of art, design, and science.
An archive of never-before-published illustrations of insects and plants painted by a pioneering naturalist
During his lifetime (1751–ca. 1840), English-born naturalist and artist John Abbot rendered more than 4,000 natural history illustrations and profoundly influenced North American entomology, as he documented many species in the New World long before they were scientifically described. For sixty-five years, Abbot worked in Georgia to advance knowledge of the flora and fauna of the American South by sending superbly mounted specimens and exquisitely detailed illustrations of insects, birds, butterflies, and moths, on commission, to collectors and scientists all over the world.
Between 1816 and 1818, Abbot completed 104 drawings of insects on their native plants for English naturalist and patron William Swainson (1789–1855). Both Abbot and Swainson were artists, naturalists, and collectors during a time when natural history and the sciences flourished. Separated by nearly forty years in age, Abbot and Swainson were members of the same international communities and correspondence networks upon which the study of nature was based during this period.
The relationship between these two men—who never met in person—is explored in John Abbot and William Swainson: Art, Science, and Commerce in Nineteenth-Century Natural History Illustration. This volume also showcases, for the first time, the complete set of original, full-color illustrations discovered in 1977 in the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington, New Zealand. Originally intended as a companion to an earlier survey of insects from Georgia, the newly rediscovered Turnbull manuscript presents beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, and a wasp. Most of the insects are pictured with the flowering plants upon which Abbot thought them to feed. Abbot’s journal annotations about the habits and biology of each species are also included, as are nomenclature updates for the insect taxa.
Today, the Turnbull drawings illuminate the complex array of personal and professional concerns that informed the field of natural history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These illustrations are also treasured artifacts from times past, their far-flung travels revealing a world being reshaped by the forces of global commerce and information exchange even then. The shared project of John Abbot and William Swainson is now brought to completion, signaling the beginning of a new phase of its significance for modern readers and scholars.
The Lab explains the idea of the “culture lab,” Edwards’ concept for experimental art and design centers like those he recently founded in Paris and at Harvard. He presents the lab as a new kind of educational art studio based on a contemporary science lab model, and he shows how students learn by translating ideas alongside experienced creators by exhibiting risky experimental processes in gallery settings.
Science has transformed understandings of the mind, supplying physiological explanations for what once seemed transcendental. Nikki Skillman shows how lyric poets—caught between a reductive scientific view and naïve literary metaphors—struggled to articulate a vision of consciousness that was both scientifically informed and poetically truthful.
Photography and Science
Kelley Wilder Reaktion Books, 2009 Library of Congress TR200.W55 2009 | Dewey Decimal 770.15
How do we know what an amoeba looks like? How can doctors see the details of our skeletons and internal organs? What enables us to see an exploding star in another galaxy? All of these things are made possible through the innovations of photography. Kelley Wilder now provides a primer on the remarkably fruitful applications of photography to science, as she explores the multiple facets of this complex relationship.
Kelley Wilder draws upon her extensive background in alternative process photography, museum practice, art history, and history of science to produce a wide-ranging and illuminating investigation into the intersection of photography and science. Photography and Science describes how photography first established its legitimacy through its close association with key scientific ideas and practices, such as objectivity, observation, archiving, and experimentation. Wilder then charts how photography returned the favor by serving as a powerful influence in various scientific disciplines, such as biology and astronomy. The book digs into the controversial debates over photography’s “success” in the sciences, its use in practical fields such as medical imaging and x-raying, and the complicated relationship between scientific theory and art practice.
Augmenting this fascinating study are eighty photographs of scientific subjects and experiments, many of which are published here for the first time. A thought-provoking, broad-based examination, Photography and Science will be an essential addition to the bookshelves of scientists, photographers, and art historians alike.
Because of their spectacular, naturalistic pictures of plants and the human body, Leonhart Fuchs’s De historia stirpium and Andreas Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica are landmark publications in the history of the printed book. But as Picturing the Book of Nature makes clear, they do more than bear witness to the development of book publishing during the Renaissance and to the prominence attained by the fields of medical botany and anatomy in European medicine. Sachiko Kusukawa examines these texts, as well as Conrad Gessner’s unpublished Historia plantarum, and demonstrates how their illustrations were integral to the emergence of a new type of argument during this period—a visual argument for the scientific study of nature.
To set the stage, Kusukawa begins with a survey of the technical, financial, artistic, and political conditions that governed the production of printed books during the Renaissance. It was during the first half of the sixteenth century that learned authors began using images in their research and writing, but because the technology was so new, there was a great deal of variety of thought—and often disagreement—about exactly what images could do: how they should be used, what degree of authority should be attributed to them, which graphic elements were bearers of that authority, and what sorts of truths images could and did encode. Kusukawa investigates the works of Fuchs, Gessner, and Vesalius in light of these debates, scrutinizing the scientists’ treatment of illustrations and tracing their motivation for including them in their works. What results is a fascinating and original study of the visual dimension of scientific knowledge in the sixteenth century.
Most famous as a literary artist, Vladimir Nabokov was also a professional biologist and a lifelong student of science. By exploring the refractions of physics, psychology, and biology within his art and thought, The Quill and the Scalpel: Nabokov’s Art and the Worlds of Science,by Stephen H. Blackwell, demonstrates how aesthetic sensibilities contributed to Nabokov’s scientific work, and how his scientific passions shape, inform, and permeate his fictions.
Nabokov’s attention to holistic study and inductive empirical work gradually reinforced his underlying suspicion of mechanistic explanations of nature. He perceived chilling parallels between the overconfidence of scientific progress and the dogmatic certainty of the Soviet regime. His scientific work and his artistic transfigurations of science underscore the limitations of human knowledge as a defining element of life. In provocative novels like Lolita,Pale Fire,The Gift,Ada, and others, Nabokov advances a surprisingly modest epistemology, urging skepticism toward all portrayals of nature, artistic and scientific. Simultaneously, he challenges his readers to recognize in the arts a vital branch of human discovery, one that both complements and informs traditional scientific research.
Over the course of her career, Barbara Stafford has established herself the preeminent scholar of the intersections of the arts and sciences, articulating new theories and methods for understanding the sublime, the mysterious, the inscrutable. Omnivorous in her research, she has published work that embraces neuroscience and philosophy, biology and culture, pinpointing connections among each discipline’s parallel concerns. Ribbon of Darkness is a monument to the scope of her work and the range of her intellect. At times associative, but always incisive, the essays in this new volume take on a distinctly contemporary purpose: to uncover the ethical force and moral aspects of overlapping scientific and creative inquiries. This shared territory, Stafford argues, offers important insights into—and clarifications of—current dilemmas about personhood, the supposedly menial nature of manual skill, the questionable borderlands of gene editing, the potentially refining value of dualism, and the limits of a materialist worldview.
Stafford organizes these essays around three concepts that structure the book: inscrutability, ineffability, and intuitability. All three, she explains, allow us to examine how both the arts and the sciences imaginatively infer meaning from the “veiled behavior of matter,” bringing these historically divided subjects into a shared intellectual inquiry and imbuing them with an ethical urgency. A vanguard work at the intersection of the arts and sciences, this book will be sure to guide readers from either realm into unfamiliar yet undeniably fertile territory.
This revealing study considers the remarkable alliance between chemistry and art from the late eighteenth century to the period immediately following the Second World War. Synthetic Worlds offers fascinating new insights into the place of the material object and the significance of the natural, the organic, and the inorganic in Western aesthetics.
Esther Leslie considers how radical innovations in chemistry confounded earlier alchemical and Romantic philosophies of science and nature while profoundly influencing the theories that developed in their wake. She also explores how advances in chemical engineering provided visual artists with new colors, surfaces, coatings, and textures, thus dramatically recasting the way painters approached their work. Ranging from Goethe to Hegel, Blake to the Bauhaus, Synthetic Worlds ultimately considers the astonishing affinities between chemistry and aesthetics more generally. As in science, progress in the arts is always assured, because the impulse to discover is as immutable and timeless as the drive to create.
In a bold and boundary defining work, Angus Fletcher clears a space for an intellectual encounter with the shape of human imagining. Joining literature and topology—a branch of mathematics—he maps the ways the imagination’s contours are formed by the spherical earth’s patterns and cycles, and shows how the world we inhabit also inhabits us.
In late seventeenth-century London, the most provocative images were produced not by artists, but by scientists. Magnified fly-eyes drawn with the aid of microscopes, apparitions cast on laboratory walls by projection machines, cut-paper figures revealing the “exact proportions” of sea monsters—all were created by members of the Royal Society of London, the leading institutional platform of the early Scientific Revolution. Wicked Intelligence reveals that these natural philosophers shaped Restoration London’s emergent artistic cultures by forging collaborations with court painters, penning art theory, and designing triumphs of baroque architecture such as St Paul’s Cathedral.
Matthew C. Hunter brings to life this archive of experimental-philosophical visualization and the deft cunning that was required to manage such difficult research. Offering an innovative approach to the scientific image-making of the time, he demonstrates how the Restoration project of synthesizing experimental images into scientific knowledge, as practiced by Royal Society leaders Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren, might be called “wicked intelligence.” Hunter uses episodes involving specific visual practices—for instance, concocting a lethal amalgam of wax, steel, and sulfuric acid to produce an active model of a comet—to explore how Hooke, Wren, and their colleagues devised representational modes that aided their experiments. Ultimately, Hunter argues, the craft and craftiness of experimental visual practice both promoted and menaced the artistic traditions on which they drew, turning the Royal Society projects into objects of suspicion in Enlightenment England.
The first book to use the physical evidence of Royal Society experiments to produce forensic evaluations of how scientific knowledge was generated, Wicked Intelligence rethinks the parameters of visual art, experimental philosophy, and architecture at the cusp of Britain’s imperial power and artistic efflorescence.