Art and NanoScience on NanoWiki by Roger Malina

This is a series of blog posts by Roger Malina on Nanowiki concerning the arts humanities and nano science and technology


  1. Scientists as Artists in Nano Science and Technology
    Roger Malina, 15 February 2010 (created 15 February 2010)
    In looking at the interaction of nano science and the arts it is interesting to look at the interest of scientists in the arts. These fall into two broad categories:

    a) Scientists who have engaged in artistic practice during their scientific career, and this was important to their creativity.

    b) Scientists who have collaborated with artists to create art works and this influenced their research practice, as well as creating art work exhibited professionally.

    In the first category, Leonardo Co Editor Robert Root Bernstein wrote a note about Nobel prize winning chemist Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin. Dodgkin was a talented amateur artist and botanist who became a world authority on Sudanese flowers, ancient textiles and weaving techniques. She also became an expert on mosaics.

    June 2007, Vol. 40, No. 3, Pages 259-261
    © 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Robert Root-Bernstein: Art Science the Essential Connection
    Department of Physiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824 U.S.A. E-mail:

    Hodgkin credits her drawing practice as being crucial to her development ideas on symmetry groups and chemical structure. At the end her life she drew many drawings.

    “What she finished instead were stunning images of natural structures too small for the naked eye to perceive—surely a form of art as creative and inspiring as the mosaics,Celtic knots and architectural innovations she recorded in her earlier years.”

    With recent work on mirror neurons, we are developing better ideas of how the human mind constructs mental models, and often this involves kinesthetic mirroring. Drawing and other artistic practice can be strategies for scientific creativity and innovation.

    Derrick de Kerchove in the recent YASMIN discussion on “Simulation” pointed out that it will also force us to at art practice in a new way: “Though still controversial, if the theory ( mirror neurons) turns out to be verified, it may have consequences for the study of media, of performing arts and of the growing practice of simulation in general. The acting profession from ancient Greek theatre to television, cinema and virtual reality could be no more and no less than a biological strategy to introduce new and complex human experience and behavior in society. It would go at some length to explain the manner by which the spectator accesses emotions that are quite literally projected into him or her by the performance.”

    As we look at the way that nano scientists and nano technologists are involved in the arts we need to understand the retro active of their art making on themselves and their creativity , as well as the way the art works produced allow viewers to access new domains of the natural world. They in effect are developing new forms of sensuality for sensory awareness mediated by scientific instruments. Via Leonardo/ISAST cooperation with NanoWiki

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