Let Nature Speak for Itself?


      Within the article “The Image of Objectivity,” authors Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison approach the “moralization of objectivity” through the emergence and nature of scientific image making (Daston & Galison 81).  Moreover, Daston and Galison attempt to historicize the utilization of mechanically produced images within the scientific community. For instance, at the turn of the nineteenth century, the medical-scientific community employed mechanical objectivity in documentation/imaging in order to eliminate the “mediating presence of the observer” (Daston & Galison 82). Thus, while scientific observations once reflected the “hopes, expectations, generalizations and aesthetics” of its creator, the emergence of machines such as automatic recording devices and photography “offered freedom of will” (Dalson & Gailson 83).  While reading about the positives and negatives of mechanical objectivity, the work of artist Steve Miller came to mind. Within his art series (seen above), Steve Miller has created a myriad of paintings and drawings that reflect the intersections of art and science. For instance, within his “Protein” series, Miller utilizes the medium of art to investigate the structure of proteins. In one piece, “Soap Opera, the Second Season 2005,” one can observe an abstract representation of proteins and molecules. Moreover, in the piece Mown into a Softness, 2009” from his Health of the Planet series, Miller gives “Brazil a medical check-up by taking x-rays of the plants and animals of the Amazon” (Miller 2009). In response to his art, Miller remarked:

 “The scientist sees the information. They identify the things in the image. This is the virus. This is the    cancer cell. This is the healthy cell. This is the cell in the blood stream. They see all the technical identification. The contemporary art viewer sees something that is more close to surrealism because that is their point of view. These kinds of images are the kind of images you see when there are crazy juxtapositions of unknown things. And in this case you can’t even identify the umbrella on the operating table. It looks completely abstract, and yet you are looking at something literal” (Miller 2005)

What I find fascinating about Millers’ pieces, is although he is creating what is essentially a work of art (subjective method), he also relies upon a component of mechanical imaging (objective method), such as X-rays and MRI’s. Thus, we begin to see a new visual method emerge which reflects both objectivity and subjectivity in its production.

-Ro Weissberg


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