Thursday, January 31, 2008

An alliance?

As I said in class, Holy Cross is currently building their own Science Complex. I couldn't find anything on their website about mixing religion and art in their new building, but you can take a look for yourself:

Unlike our online renderings, Holy Cross' show some artistic detail-- like this.. wall fountain? and something inscribed next to it.
I sent one of my friends at Holy Cross on a scavenger hunt around their current science building, to see if he could find any artwork worth noting. He found student artwork of scientific objects like telescopes and scales, and one random Norman Rockwell painting. His biggest complaint was that the building lacked thoughtful, contextual artwork. Needless to say, their current building isn't going to give us any ideas for our new building, but I think administrators/faculty/students at Holy Cross may be a good source of information for us as they embark on a similar project. It would be interesting to find out if they plan on instilling any religion/spirituality in their building-- or if not, why not?

Also, there is an interesting conversation about religion vs. science that is published in the Holy Cross Magazine, if you're ever interested:

Okay, that's enough for now. :)

Monday, January 28, 2008


In 2002, students of biology and fine arts collaborated at MSU-Bozeman, a large state school, to create an exhibit called Bioglyphs. The students cultivated petri dishes of bioluminescent bacteria and artfully arranged the dishes on gallery walls. Kill the lights, and dazzling patterns appear. The installation was expanded in New York on the campus of Manhattan College, a small Roman Catholic school. An interesting difference arises between the two exhibits in the interpretations of their viewers. MSU conceived of the project as a fusion of art and science, and most of the comments in the guestbook address the beauty and educational value of the Bioglyphs. Alternatively, the Manhattan College exhibit was considered by some a religious experience, with one viewer describing the dishes as “a sacred space prepared with and containing the living.” Another patron was reminded “of the Notre Dame stained glass windows.”

It is no stretch to think about the display in a religious register. “Bioglyph” is a riff on hieroglyph, which is a backformation of hieroglyphics. The Greek word hierogluphikos is derived from the parts hieros, meaning “sacred,” and gluphÄ“, or “carving” (Oxford American Dictionary). The word “hieroglyphics” contains within it the holy, and while it is most often used denotatively to describe the historical writing system, it can also be used figuratively to mean any writing that is enigmatic, elusive, even incomprehensible—quite at odds with the mission of science. One can then view Bioglyphs as mysterious, inconclusive experiments, a sacred script vivified, made through science with a sense of awe.

This artwork is definitely an interesting case study. I've got some ideas gestating, but I think I need to sleep on it.

Check out the Bioglyphs website: