Wednesday 9/19

When Dr. Liu prepared the class for the art gallery that featured the work of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer, he made me excited to see the collection; Dr. Liu explained that Scheuchzer incorporated art, science and religion in his work and I was curious as to how someone can combine his different passions in such different study areas to create a masterpiece.  When I initially glanced at the art, I only saw a direct depiction of biblical verses; however, upon further inspection, I discovered the intricate details of the people, animals and plants that only one knowledgeable in the science behind them would know to include.  In a depiction of Genesis Cap I. V.26, Scheuchzer includes images of skeletons and fetuses.  His knowledge of science is evident in the details of the anatomy; every bone is taken into consideration and accounted for.  In fact, it is the science behind the work that makes the art so great; like the Greeks who valued the beauty of the human body, Scheuchzer uses the beauty of anatomy to create art.

I think it is inspiring that the artist was able to pursue his different fields of interests and create a masterpiece in the process.  I hope that during my four years in college, I too will be open-minded to the different areas of study and will “expand my frames of reference.”

Seminar Sept. 19, 2012 – Dr. Liu’s Discussion

During class on September 19th, Dr. Charles Liu came and spoke to us about the art gallery that was on display at CSI. In his discussion, he mentioned how hundreds of years ago, people could potentially master all fields of study. Now, however, it is impossible to do so. If I recall correctly, he said that every 15-20 years or so, the amount of collective knowledge doubles. And so now, there is simply not enough time for one person to study everything in a lifetime. There’s just too much to know. That simple thought stuns me, honestly. This world really is a huge place, and it just continues to grow. I am likely going into business, and so my education will be tailored towards that as I move along in my college career. Others are going to go into different fields and their educations will be tailored towards whatever it is they choose to become. I think it’s a shame that we can’t really learn everything. There are so many fascinating things out there, and there’s just too little time to take them all in. However, it’s not impossible to do more than one thing. I play guitar and sing in my free time, and I’d like to take some music classes to try to enhance my musical knowledge (and hopefully my musical ability), even though I don’t plan on becoming a musician when I’m older. And so, I definitely think that other people can try to study other things on the side as well. There are endless possibilities in this world and while we can’t know everything, we can delve into multiple things at once.

Lecture and art gallery Wednesday 9/19

In class on Wednesday, we discussed how two polar opposite subjects such as religion and science can be united through art. Dr. Liu’s lecture before we visited the art exhibit was very interesting and I found his ideas to be applicable to my own life. He posed an interesting point: a few hundred years ago it was plausible that one person could be an expert in all fields of study and seemingly “know everything”. However, today that is clearly an impossible feat, a lifetime can be spent studying one thing. He said that many people feel trapped in one particular interest or passion, but how that should not be the case. He discussed his passion for astronomy, physics and other fields of science, yet also for art. I have always been very interested in science when it comes to academics. Recently I began to play the guitar and create my own music and art. The idea of finding a balance resonated well with me, and my appreciation for all kinds of art has increased. The lecture also made the art show much more enjoyable and understandable.

9/19/2012 – Shumaila I.

On Wednesday, in Seminar, we resumed our discussion on the significance of John Berger in “Ways of Seeing”. So far, this class has made me view art in a completely different perspective. Before, I didn’t really think much of different artworks, but now every time I look at a piece, I find myself wondering about its origins. At the start of class, we looked at some clips from the movie, “The Girl With the Pearl Earrings”. We saw a girl who began to see the world from a new perspective, similar to how I began to see art. During the last half hour of our class, we visited an art exhibit titled Art, Science, and Religion in the Physica Sacra. At first, I didn’t quite know what to think of the paintings. They were confusing. But after looking at them closely, and discussing it with my peers, I gained a better insight. Scheuchzer’s works demonstrated how two seemingly diverse topics, religion and science, can be combined to create a magnificent element, art. I loved how the art, in a way, brought the scientific and religious ideologies to life.

Dr. Liu’s discussion taught me a lot. For as long as I’ve been in school, my life has mainly centered on math and science. It was after I began Macaulay that I started to explore new territory in the arts. I see the significance behind art, and how it represents the feelings of that era. After just a few classes, I’m already beginning to appreciate the art around me, more than I ever did before.

~Expanding Frames of Reference 9/19/12~

On Wednesday in class we went to art gallery titled ‘Expanding Frames of Reference: Art, Science, and Religion’. I enjoyed looking at the artwork and listening to  Dr. Lui explain the exhibit. I find both science and art interesting, and I’ve struggled, and continue to struggle to find a happy medium between the two. The part that most intrigued me about Jacob Scheucher’s exhibit was that it joins science, art and religion, which are subjects which don’t usually coincide with each other.

His artwork is a testament to his deep love and appreciation for history, science, art, and religion.  Each of his pieces in the exhibit were connected to a bible verse, and the intricate boarders offered extra details on the topic of the picture within the frame. An example of this would be his plate “CCCLXXX Judges, chapter 14, v.5, 6”. This plate is a picture of Samson fighting with the lion, which is a biblical story, yet around the boarder  he drew greek and roman coins which depict similar scenarios. In this one picture Scheuchzer is linking cultures, and different subject areas.  The complexity of Scheuchzer’s artwork makes it a pictorial encyclopedia, providing the viewer with a wealth of information about the image before them; its history, its science,and its religious significance.

After seeing Scheuchzer’s work, I hope to find ways to link my passions in the same way that he was able to link his. There doesn’t need to be a separation of the arts and sciences. I can have my cake and eat it too, and I look forward to finding my fork.


Art, Science, and Religion

In today’s seminar, we had a special opportunity to go visit an art gallery a few doors down from our classroom. However, this was not just an ordinary gallery consisting of random pieces of art. When I walked in, I was very surprised at what I saw: paintings of religious events and icons. When Dr. Liu started to speak about how art, religion, and science were all related, I was confused at first, because I had never associated any of those things together. However, after reading the pamphlet from “Expanding Frames of Reference: Art, Science, and Religion in the Physica Sacra of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer,” it all became clear to me.

Dr. Liu vividly explained “Physica Sacra plate CCCLXXI” and how it relates to art, science, and religion. While gazing at this picture, I immediately noticed that the sun was the focal point of the picture. The beams of light emanating from it show its radiant power. In Dr. Liu’s analysis, he explained that the moon couldn’t be full when it is in the daytime sky, and thus it was a miracle. The painter conveyed this miracle in his painting by highlighting the sun and the moon as if these all powerful, radiant celestial beings were frozen in time. Along the border of the painting, there are a series of diagrams that show the expected illumination patterns of the world at different times during the day and night. I find this the most interesting part of the painting; it makes us think of the entire world as a whole, rather than just think of ourselves. The sun is perceived as this display of grandeur and power, possibly an allegory for God, that covers the entire earth and gives us light to see when we do not know where to go. The artistic, scientific, and religious aspects of this picture come together to create something beautiful.

Seminar Class 9/19/12

On Wednesday, class began with the analysis of a scene from the movie Girl With a Pearl Earring. In this scene, Johannes Vermeer, played by Colin Firth, is beginning a painting of his servant Griet, played by Scarlett Johansson. She is dressed modestly with her hair wrapped in silks to that it is completely hidden. During the time period in which the movie took place, women were only allowed to show their hair to their husbands because it was a symbol of beauty and seduction. However, Vermeer tasked her to take her head wrap off for the different affect of the painting. Eventually she gave in and took it off in private. However, she noticed that Vermeer was watching her take it off and she felt violated and humiliated. This scene reminds me of what I read in the book Ways of Seeing. Women are viewed differently according to what they wear and how they present themselves. As soon as she took off her head wrap, she was viewed as an immodest woman. It is truly amazing how many aspects, such as clothing and style, can have an affect on the reputation of a woman.

During the second half of class, Dr. Charles Liu came to discuss the art gallery displayed in school of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer’s artwork. He told us about the history of Scheuchzer’s artwork and then we looked at and experienced the artwork first hand. The main ideas of Scheuchzer’s artwork are based on science and religion. During his time period, it was taboo to try to explain religion through the use of science. However, he went against society and displayed his love for religion and science in his artwork. One particular work that I enjoyed from his collection was Physica Sacra plate CCCLXXI. This displayed the bible verse Joshua 10: 12-14. In this illustration, Joshua is speaking to the Lord. He is surrounded by beautiful landscapes, mountains, a river, and the sun shining above him. Scheuchzer incorporated science into this illustration by making a frame of worlds shaded in different ways. This showed that he knew the concept of daylight and nighttime by the position of the sun. Scheuchzer’s collection was truly amazing. His subtle ways of incorporating science into his religious artwork taught me to always look at the fine details of art.

Corinna K. 9/19/12

This past Wednesday in seminar, we looked at a clip from the movie “Girl with a Pearl Earring” to add to our conversation about hair.  It was brought to my attention that hair was seen much differently a few decades ago than it is now.  The fact that it was associated with sexuality seemed pretty amazing yet ridiculous at the same time.  The thought of having to cover your hair at all times and your husband being the only one to ever see it seems a little insane and also cumbersome.  The scene in “Girl with a Pearl Earring” that illustrated this precept helped me see just how big of a deal showing hair actually was for these women.  To them it did not seem like a stupid idea or an inconvenience, which was a bit of a surprise for me.

For the second half of the class, Dr. Liu came to talk to us about an art exhibit in the CSI gallery that we were about to see.  I really enjoyed listening to Dr. Liu because he did a great job of explaining things in a way that I was able to really understand.  He also made a lot of good points, which had me very interested.  I loved his point about how even though everyone in this day in age is basically forced to specialize in a certain area or subject, it is still possible, and even preferred, that you take an interest in some other areas as well.  Specifically what he was talking about was how a scientist could be knowledgeable of and fascinated by art.  This seemed to be a perfect introduction to the art we were about to see in the CSI gallery, which was filled with very detailed and unique art that did in fact incorporate science, and religion as well.

Ariana Z. 9/19

On Wednesday’s seminar, the class was introduced to the movie “The Girl with a Pearl Earring,” Professor Kahan showed us clips of the film along with the actual painting that inspired it. The clips of the film were quite intriguing.The simplicity of the costumes and nearly unrecognizable, and understated Scarlett Johanson allowed for the dialogue of the film (or lack there of) to shine through. As Professor Kahan explained the background of the clips, it was quite amazing to see that during the time period the film was based on (circa 17th century) women were only seen as modest and presentable to the public when their hair was under a bonnet. Besides their husbands,no one could, or at least should, see their hair. This reminds me of an essay in Ways of Seeing  where one author describes how in most paintings the appearance of hair signifies sexuality. Therefore, the presence of hair would take away any innocence belonging to the woman depicted. I assume that these head pieces were worn for relatively the same reason.

The class also discussed what we felt about Edward Hoppers style. Whats coincidental is that the topics we are discussing about style in my seminar class, happen to relate to my cinema class, where we are learning how to find “oeuvre”a french term referring to the style of a film directors entire body of work. Much like the “style” we discuss in seminar we recognize what certain repetitions in films say about a directors oeuvre.

Wednesday, our class was also given the opportunity to attend a gallery being held at CSI. Prior to this gallery, Dr.Charles Liu made it a point to speak to us and explain how his love for science and the arts could truly coexist. By explaining that the pieces we were about see were based off this exact idea (where science meets religion) I was able to have a background to the gallery. In most of the paintings I was able to see how the two meshed well together. Ultimately, I enjoy and support how galleries like the Expanding Frames of Reference: Art, Science,and Religion in the Physica Sacra of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer can open up the minds of its spectators prove how two relatively different ideas  can truly coexist.

Art Exhibition- 9/19/12

Science is a complex thing. Our knowledge on various subjects is constantly changing. What was true and valid last week is disproved and replaced with another theory this week. We are still unsure about the world that we are living in. Charles Liu, the Director of the Macaulay and Verrazano Honors College at CSI, challenged us to think outside the box.

When Dr. Liu came in to speak with us, he spoke on the matter of combining religion and science. He posed a question: “Could someone who is verbose in science be just as verbose in religion?” Most of us answered “no,” but in fact, the answer is yes. Look back at some of the famous scientists in history such as Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, even Benjamin Franklin. Besides Science, what else do all these famous people have in common?? The were all philosophers! They were just as well read in science as they were in religion. Fast forward a few hundred years to 2012. When we hear that someone is a scientist, we automatically assume that they have no religious background at all.

On Wednesday, September 19, 2012, we had the honor of attending the opening of an art gallery at CSI. The name of the gallery was “Expanding Frames of Reference: Art, Science and Religion.” Normally, you don’t see those three terms in the same paragraph, let alone the same sentence! Well, a Swiss scholar Johann Jakob Scheuchzer challenged this idea and developed scientifically based art commissioned to mimic passages from the Bible. The idea was brilliant!

One of the paintings that illustrates this the best is Physica Sacra plate CCCLXXI. The bible quote to go with this plate is found in Joshua, chapter 10, and reads:

“Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.

In the painting, we see the sun shining over a mountain top and the moon in the back right. Around the frame we can see the changing of the moon and sun over the course of a day. At one point though, it seems that the light patterns have remained static, illustrating the above quote.

I was quite taken back by all of this. I had always been one of those naïve persons who  believed that science and religion could never co-exist. However, Scheuchzer, through his art, demonstrates that scientific principals found their origin in the Bible. After viewing this exhibition, my mind has definitely been changed in regards to this. Science and religion can and do, in fact, co-exist.