Seeing Ourselves: The Science and Art of Diagnostic Medical Imaging
Curators: Koan Jeff Baysa, M.D. and Caitlin Judith Hardy, M.D.
MuseCPMI, 580 Eighth Avenue, 7th & 6th Floors, New York, NY 10018-3080
6 March - 14 April 2012 • 10 March Reception 7-930PM
[Image by Laura Ferguson]
Seeing Ourselves is an art exhibition designed to make breakthroughs in biomedical imaging accessible to the public and to explore the commingled aesthetics of modern medical imaging and contemporary visual art. It will include displays of the state of the art MRI, PET, CAT images alongside art inspired by these medical imaging modalities. New York medical centers are home to the world's cutting edge medical imaging technology that has advanced our critical understanding of the human mind and body. Medical imaging leader Siemens has already demonstrated its innovative and forward thinking with exhibitions such as The ART of CT.
One of the show’s intentions is to encourage the sharing of institutional knowledge as well as to examine the contexts of these medical images from the perspectives of the humanities, in addition to the sciences. By displaying the most advanced medical imaging examples in conversation with other visual images, and as artwork themselves, the curators blur ingrained distinctions between art and science and encourage audiences outside of the medical communities to appreciate and to be inspired by the remarkable scientific advances.
The human body is a slippery surface upon which discourses of race, class, gender, and sexuality are mediated, and thus becomes a contested scientific, political, ethical, cultural, economic, and social site. Since human subjectivity and identity are linked to the changing perceptions of vision and visualization, we make and remake our visual experiences of the world within these different contexts. In diagnostic imaging, the areas of visualization, medicine, and technology come together. It is astonishing to think of MRI and PET scans as the body’s way of illuminating itself from within.
Historically, the partial or fragmented image suggested grief and nostalgia for the loss of a vanished totality and a utopian wholeness. In diagnostic imaging, the body is examined in detail, piecemeal and irreconciled, described in terms of “cuts” and “slices.” The body in pieces, viewed as relics and synecdoches, constitute deconstructed images of humans and problematize issues of creation and re-creation, existence and mortality, integration and dissolution, especially when the images of the dematerialized body are translated from digital code, existing as pure information. There are dire consequences of equating digital reconstructions with the real. Medical images circulate similarly within this belief system and are often thought to be equivalent to the bodies represented within them. Realizing that MRI images are only re-presentations and partial truths empowers us to recognize the political, social, and economic factors that affect the interpretation of these images. The deployment of medical imaging pictures by contemporary visual artists reflects the innovative and alternative perspectives that art often offers to science, while acknowledging that both art and science are investigated by social beings within social contexts.