Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week 4: Medicine-technology-art

In this weeks lectures and readings what stood out to me the most was all of the information about MRI's. Being a student-athlete at UCLA, I've undergone a lot of injuries where I've had to get MRI's and X-rays. I didn't realize that MRI's were used as an art form, but it is very interesting to see such detail in ones own body based on the images from the MRI's. In Silva Casini's article she talks about how in the 90's an artist named Justine Cooper was the first to attract a wide range of attention from her art using the MRI. Art using an MRI has expanded and is growing popular, youtube has hundreds of videos of people using the MRI to try some strange things. One that I found interesting and sort of creepy to watch was a man chewing and swallowing through an MRI as seen below. 

The transformation of the views and art of the human body is fascinating. In 1858 when Henry Gray published "Grays Anatomy" as Professor Vesna says, it marks the growth and change of anatomical illustration of the human body, it also makes me wonder if Shonda Rhymes named her show after this book. 
I have been to the exhibits of Body World in Nevada and was amazed that the bodies could be preserved for that long and that they replaced the fat and water in the bodies with plastic materials for longer preservation. It amazed me when Professor Vesna said during lecture that the exhibits had been around since 1979 by Gunther Von Hagens using polymers and plastination.

It is interesting how plastic surgery became most prominent during WWII, driven by empathy for people who come back without limbs and parts of their bodies. It's also crazy how much plastic surgery has gone to define what beauty means, especially in modern society. As professor Vesna talks about Orlan and she stayed awake during her plastic surgeries I start to think her view of art and beauty is a little extreme, but thats what makes her such a prominent artist. 

Casini, Silvia. "Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) as Mirror and Portrait: MRI Configurations between Science and the Arts." Configurations 19.1 (2011): 73-99. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
Vesna, Victoria. "Medicine Pt. 1." 24 Apr. 2016. Lecture.
Gray, Henry, and Henry Carter. Gray's Anatomy. N.p.: Arcturus, 2009. Print.
Vesna, Victoria. "Medicine Pt. 3." 24 Apr. 2016. Lecture.
Rose, Barbara. "Orlan: Is It Art?" Art in America. Stanford Education, 8 Feb. 1993. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.


  1. I guess plastic surgery is a rather obvious form of the compliation of arts and sciences, but I just never looked in deep enough to analysis its artistic roots within the medical sciences. I agree that the video was a bit too much and overwhelming, but it was interesting to view how far artists were willing to go to define their perspectives within the field of Medicine. In terms of MRI as art, I think beside its visualstic artistic features, its inherent "acoustic" artistic features as Silvia Casini indicates make it even more "artistic" to its core. Thank you for your post!

  2. Hi Darian. I loved your post! I too am an athlete here at UCLA and have had multiple MRI's and X-rays and have always taken them for granted. This week's lecture and readings really opened my eyes to view these tools as not only for medical efficiency but also as a form of art. The detailed human body images that result from these complex machines truly act as artwork that transcends what was once traditional. I think that as technology within medicine continues to advance, we will be able to construct more detailed and new identities of the human body

  3. Hi Darian,

    Great blog! I really like how you mentioned that plastic surgery has become a way for people to define beauty. I believe that beauty, like art, is an extremely abstract and subjective topic. While Orlan's multiple surgeries might seem unnatural and extreme to society, it seems that she is breaking the barriers of what we consider "normal," and like you said, what makes her such a prominent artist.

  4. Darian,

    With X-rays and plastic surgery I also view these as arts that have practical and aesthetic applications. The new technology that allows us to physically view ones insides have made treatment so much easier. As for plastic surgery we know it can be used to fix things that ail people such as cleft lip which can concer health and also obviously for aesthetic reasons.

  5. Hello Darian, great post I really enjoyed it. Especially since I too am a student athlete. My roommate suffered from an injury and also had to get an MRI. I thought it was pretty sweet seeing how the everything looked underneath the skin. Unfortunate for the injury and the process but I see how this can be seen as art. It's very intriguing.