It’s possible that scientists and artists may have one side of their brain more dominant than the other, with the broadly opposite characteristics of logic and creativity, but the best innovations in both fields tend to come from using the whole mind. In an attempt to instigate such mental dialogues between science and art, a new exhibition and laboratory space called the Lab Cambridge is opening up in Kendall Square in in Cambridge, Massachusetts, next year.
Long before Body Worlds shocked people with its theatrically preserved people or Damien Hirst even thought to dunk a dead shark in a tank of formaldehyde, scientists were erring into the realm of art with their attempts at preserving life for anatomical study. The specimens in particular that emerged as a way to show the inner workings of the human body, such as the late 18th century “anatomical venus” models of the sculptor Clemente Susini — beautiful young ladies with their hair tossed back and their pale skin pulled open to show the organs within — mixed death and anatomy with an uncanny beauty. One anatomist took this to an unprecedented extreme. Honoré Fragonard transformed the human body into an object of strange art, flaying open the skin and preserving it to show the hidden veins and organs, but at the same time giving it a dramatic pose that captured the absent life.
Quick, think of a new use for a baseball bat. If you thought of something that doesn’t involve a swinging action (e.g., smashing things), such as using it as a rolling pin, congratulations, you’re a person with excellent creativity. However, you may also have less of a brain “filter” than most.
BRIGHTON, UK — Tucked behind an aging mews of terraced houses in the historic city of Cambridge is a hidden modernist science facility. Negotiating tight security and an immaculate grey gravel drive, expectations climb as you approach an understated entrance in a warm yet sleek façade. The straight lines inspire; a horizontal accent calms. The building has also been sunk a little to root the botanical research lab in the present. If you ever held childhood aspirations toward being a scientist, this structure is designed to revive those dreams before you even cross the threshold.
Mimicking how our body responds to cuts, scientists work to create self-healing materials.
LOS ANGELES — What’s going on in artists’ brains when they create? I’ve done a few posts recently that suggest answers. But one of the most intriguing issues is the actual act of creation in the moment, i.e., how artists come up with incredible creativity in the moment.