Week 2 Response / Data Visualization in the Sciences and Technology

“The body has always been a special interest of the arts, for example in portraiture, sculpture, theater and dance…[however] western biological science has also studied the body, seeking to understand its functions and theorize its secrets” (Wilson, 75). It did not come to my realization until recently that art has had such an influential role in science and technology. Art and its applications have pervaded throughout the sciences in bioinformatics, computational biology, functional imaging, nanotechnology, and so many other fields and advances. From the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, to taxonomy and classifications systems, to ultrasound images of the womb – I never realized that those instruments and designs meant to enhance branches of science were also practices of the arts. As a result, art indeed acts as a vital element to the advancement of the sciences and technology in allowing society to visualize concepts and images, establishing concrete foundations, which would otherwise be most difficult to comprehend.

TEDTalks. “Demo: Stunning data visualization in the AlloSphere.” YouTube. 15 Apr 2009.

One perfect example of the amalgamation between art, technology, and medicine, is data visualization within an environment called the AlloSphere. The AlloSphere is a chamber that is connected to a supercomputer and allows scientists and interpreters to stand, suspended within the sphere, and immerse themselves in data. Inside, the team of specialists are able to enter complex environments created and mapped from a conglomeration of different algorithms. The AlloSphere is capable of providing aural and visual conditions of real life processes occurring within a person’s brain as well as interactive visualizations of substances at atomic levels in order to study movements and units that make up particles.

Wilson states that “the applied version of [seeking to understand the body], has sought to fight disease and improve the ‘quality’ of life”, however I believe that the applications of art in the different fields of science and technology have certainly improved many, if not all, aspects of life in our society (77).

~ Amber Tang

I signed up for week 7, so I think I present week 8. Thanks! 🙂


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