Metaphors of Neurobiology: A neuroscientist-artist explains his work

Required reading: this essay by Pablo Garcia-Lopez on the interaction between neuroscience and the arts:

My work as an artist is directly inspired by my experience as a neuroscientist. I completed my PhD in conjunction with the Museum Cajal, working with the original slides and scientific drawings of Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852–1934). Besides being completely astonished by the historical and current neuroscientific concepts, and esthetics of his histological slides, drawings, (Garcia-Lopez et al., 2010), articles, and books, I was impressed by the great abundance of metaphors that he employed in his scientific writings. (source)

Overall, it is a very interesting essay from the point of view of an artist who is deliberately using art as a medium to shape the cultural perception of science. I might quibble, however, with using the “neuroculture” concept (credited to Frazzetto and Anker) to frame the essay, because I tend to view the interaction of art and science holistically, not field-by-field. Neuroscience is certainly “hot right now,” and Garcia-Lopez has focused both his scientific training and his art on the brain, so Garcia-Lopez may quite reasonably focus on what he knows. But I’d caution that too much reliance on “neuroculture” as a unique, particularly worthy or special pairing of biology and culture diminishes the broader themes Garcia-Lopez discusses, such as organic and mechanistic metaphors, and the evolution of science as a tool or muse of artists in the age of mechanical reproduction.

Thanks to Jennifer Ouellette for linking to this one.

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