Skip to main content
Log in

Observation and visualization: reflections on the relationship between science, visual arts, and the evolution of the scientific image

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

The connections between biological sciences, art and printed images are of great interest to the author. She reflects on the historical relevance of visual representations for science. She argues that the connection between art and science seems to have diminished during the twentieth century. However, this connection is currently growing stronger again through digital media and new imaging methods. Scientific illustrations have fuelled art, while visual modeling tools have assisted scientific research. As a print media artist, she explores the relationship between art and science in her studio practice and will present this historical connection with examples related to evolution, microbiology and her own work. Art and science share a common source, which leads to scrutiny and enquiry. Science sets out to reveal and explain our reality, whereas art comments and makes connections that don’t need to be tested by rigorous protocols. Art and science should each be evaluated on their own merit. Allowing room for both in the quest to understand our world will lead to an enriched experience.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. An update of the essays on this topic in the publication edited by Michael Lynch and Steven Woolgar (1990) is expected into appear in January 2014 by Coopmans C, Vertesi J, Lynch M, Woolgar S (eds). “This volume revisits the topic, taking into account both the changing conceptual landscape of STS (Science and Technology Studies) and the emergence of new imaging technologies in scientific practice”. http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/representation-scientific-practice-revisited/. Accessed 16 May 2013.

  2. See: http://www.jove.com/video/1943/electron-cryotomography-of-bacterial-cells. Accessed 16 May 2013.

  3. See: http://events.embo.org/13-pvc/programme.html. Accessed 16 May 2013.

  4. Personal communication with Dr. C. Jogler, February 27, 2012.

  5. Downloaded from this link: http://www.geom.uiuc.edu/software/download/KaleidoTile.html; Accessed May 2009.

  6. http://www.jove.com/video/50250/3d-printing-of-preclinical-x-ray-computed-tomographic-data-sets. Accessed 16 May 2013.

  7. Personal communication with Dr. M.J.A. Vermeij on his involvement with the research of Dr. J. Kaandorp, 2 July 2008 (Kaandorp JA, Kübler JE (2002).

  8. Program description: http://www.embo-embl-symposia.org/symposia/2013/EES13-03/.

References

  • Breidbach O (1998) Brief instructions to viewing Haeckel’s pictures. In: Breidbach O, Eibl-Eibesfeldt I (eds) Art forms in nature. The prints of Ernst Haeckel. Prestel, Munich, pp 9–18

    Google Scholar 

  • Campbell J, Moyers B (1991) In: Flowers BS, Braun M (eds) The power of myth. Anchor Books, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Cazort M (1997) Photography’s illustrative ancestors: the printed image. In: Thomas A (ed) Beauty of another order. Photography in science. Yale University Press, New Haven in association with National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, pp 14–25

  • Coopmans C, Vertesi J, Lynch M, Woolgar S (eds) (2014) Representation in scientific practice revisited. MIT Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Daston L, Galison P (2007) Objectivity. Zone Books, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Davis AA (2013) The xenotext: creating the poetry bug. Macleans http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/01/11/creating-the-poetry-bug/. Accessed 8 February 2013

  • Dickerson R (1997) Obituary. Irving Geis, molecular artist, 1908–1997. Protein Sci 6:2483–2484

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Fahr-Becker G (1997) Art Nouveau. Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft, Köln

    Google Scholar 

  • Flannery MC (1998) Images of the cell in twentieth-century art and science. Leonardo 31(3):195–204

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gamwell L (2002) Exploring the invisible. Art, science and the spiritual. Princeton University Press, New Jersey

    Google Scholar 

  • Gilbert SF, Brauckmann S (2011) Fertilization narratives in the art of Gustav Klimt, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo: repression, domination and eros among cells. Leonardo 44(3):221–227

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gontier N (2012) Introducing universal symbiogenesis. In: Pombo O et al (eds) Special sciences and the unity of science, logic, epistemology, and the unity of science, vol 24. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 89–111 http://www.academia.edu/1364496/Introducing_Universal_Symbiogenesis. Accessed 30 December 2012

  • Jones J (2012) Science is more beautiful than art. The guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2012/sep/19/science-more-beautiful-than-art. Accessed 8 November 2012

  • Kaandorp JA, Kübler JE (2002) The algorithmic beauty of seaweeds, sponges and corals. Springer, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Kant I (2008) Critique of judgment. Meredith JC (trans), Walker N (ed) Oxford University Press, New York

  • Kauffman SA (2008) Reinventing the sacred. A new view of science, reason, and religion. Basic Books, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Kemp M (2000) Visualizations. The nature book of art and science. University of California Press, Berkely

    Google Scholar 

  • Kemp M (2011) Christ to coke: how images become icon. Oxford University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Kolijn E (2008) A virus from outer space/Un virus dans l’espace. RACAR, Revue d’art Canadienne/Canadian Art Review, Vol. XXXIII 1–2:120–123

  • Kozo-Polyansky BM (2010) Symbiogenesis. A new principle of evolution, 1924. Fet V (trans), Margulis L (ed) Harvard University Press, Cambridge

  • Lynch ME, Woolgar S (eds) (1990) Representations in scientific practise. The MIT Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Margulis L (1998) Symbiotic planet. A new look at evolution. The Perseus group, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Margulis L, Schwartz KV (1997) Five kingdoms. An illustrated guide to the phyla of life on earth, 3rd edn. W.H Freeman and Company, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Miles R (2006) Prints now. Directions and definitions. V&A Publications, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Mundy J (2007) Nature made strange. In: Wood G (ed) Surreal things. Surrealism and design. V&A Publications, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Pavord A (2005) The naming of names. The search for order in the world of plants. Bloomsbury, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Pilhofer M, Ladinsky MS, McDowell AW, Jensen GJ (2010) Bacterial TEM: new insights from cryo-microscopy. In: Michael conn P (ed) Methods in cell biology, chap. 2, vol. 96. Elsevier Academic Press, Orlando

    Google Scholar 

  • Reid R (2011) Talking pictures. In: Moser MA, Ingram J (eds) Science she loves me. Banff Centre Press, Banff, pp 70–83

    Google Scholar 

  • Richards RJ (2008) The tragic sense of life. Ernst Haeckel and the struggle over evolutionary thought. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Richardson JS (2000) Early ribbon drawings of proteins. Nat Struct Biol 7(8):624–625. http://csb.stanford.edu/class/public/readings/Introduction_Lecture1/Richardson_NAT_00_Ribbon_drawing_history.pdf. Accessed 13 February 2013

    Google Scholar 

  • Root-Bernstein R (2000) Art advances science. Nature 407:134

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Root-Bernstein R (2011) ArtScience: integrative collaboration to create a sustainable future. Leonardo 44(3):19

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rothenberg D (2011) The survival of the beautiful art, science, and evolution. Bloomsbury Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Steigerwald J (2002) Goethe’s morphology: Urphänomene and aesthetic appraisal. J Hist Biol 35:291–328. Kluwer Academic Publishers

    Google Scholar 

  • Switek B (2010) Breaking our link to the “March of progress”. Scientific American, December 3 http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2010/12/03/breaking-our-link-to-the-March-of-progress/. Accessed 13 February 2013

  • Teresi D (2011) Lynn Margulis. Discover, April:66–71

  • Vernadsky VI (1998) In: McMenamin M (ed) The biosphere. Complete annotated edition (1928). Springer, New York

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Walsh DM (2006) Organisms as natural purposes: the contemporary evolutionary perspective. Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci 37:771–791

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wilde A, Wilde J (eds) (1977) Karl Blossfeldt. The alphabet of plants (with an essay by Gert Mattenklott). Te Neues Publishing Company, New York

Download references

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Dr. Christian Jogler and Dr. Damien Devos for inviting me to present on the EMBO workshop, Planctomycetes-Verrucomicrobia-Chlamydiae Superphylum: Exceptions to the bacterial definition? The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) has supported my participation. It has been a very encouraging experience and in the spirit of the presented paper to involve the arts in a scientific microbiology environment.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Eveline Kolijn.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kolijn, E. Observation and visualization: reflections on the relationship between science, visual arts, and the evolution of the scientific image. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 104, 597–608 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10482-013-9951-z

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10482-013-9951-z

Keywords

Navigation