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Sessão | Ciência e Arte





ABSTRACTS
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Science and art: are creativity and rigor in opposite corners?

Rui Malhó
, Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal

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From the beginning of my scientific training I was taught that science relies on rigor. Programming experiments, collecting information, analyzing data, reporting results in a trustworthy and reproducible manner depends as much on intelligence as it does on rigor. Scientific papers are not meant to be literature but technical reports formatted by peer analysis and editorial restrictions. Is there room for creativity? As a biologist working with microscopic imaging techniques, I am often confronted with the requirement to show representative pictures obtained from a wide variety of shapes and behaviors. Reporting this biological variability, this “natural art” and make an audience (of readers or listeners) question “why is that so?” is challenging and very exciting. Creativity and rigor are not at all opposite!

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Science and sensibility: an artists approach to micro imaging

Rob Kesseler
, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, University of the Arts, London, UK

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For centuries scientists and artists worked side by side in the study and depiction of the living world. From flora to fossils and from minerals to microorganisms, the dissemination of new information relied as much upon accurate visual description as it did on the written word. Whilst it is often thought that artistic creativity was subservient to the need for scientific accuracy, it cannot be denied that greatest botanical and scientific artists and illustrators created work that rose above its apparent functional role.

My own interests lie within the representation of the natural world and since 2000 I have collaborated extensively with botanical scientists at the Millennium Seed Bank and Jodrell Laboratory at Kew and more recently at the Instituto Gulbenkian Ciência in Portugal. Working with the same material and sharing the technologies of the scientist, my approach to the development and translation of visual material fuses the exactitude of the scientist with the sensibility of an artist. Through a subtle mediation of colour and form I aim to capture the attention of the audience through the creation of mesmerizing images that lie somewhere between science and symbolism.

Science and sensibility will reveal some of the processes and approaches involved in working is this emerging field.

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Neuroimaging the brain

Daniela Seixas
, Department of Imaging, Centro Hospitalar de Vila Nova de Gaia/Espinho | Institute of Histology and Embryology, Faculty of Medicine of University of Oporto, Portugal

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There is an interest in the brain that can be traced back at least to the ancient Egypt. Early researchers always tried to explain both structure and function even when the heart was believed to be the seat of the soul. The connection of the soul with the brain did not emerge until the Classical age in Greece, especially in the writings of Hippocrates.

Early anatomists dissected and depicted animal brains, and soon human brains. The drawings were embedded with their own beliefs, and not infrequently these anatomists were also renowned artists. Michelangelo, for example, is believed to have hidden an image of the brainstem and spinal cord in a depiction of God in the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

The twentieth century brought new technologies that yielded revolutionary understandings of cell function, which in turn made it possible to develop more complex experiments on normal and abnormal brain functioning. With the advent of radiographic techniques, and even though the brain is essentially invisible to ordinary x-ray examination, indirect signs were refined that could give important clues to the presence of structural disease. But the history of neuroimaging, as we know it, began in the early 1900s with a technique called pneumoencephalography. For the first time, by replacing cerebrospinal fluid with air and altering the relative density of the brain and its surroundings, the brain could be seen, in humans, in vivo. In 1927 Egas Moniz, introduced cerebral angiography, whereby both normal and abnormal blood vessels in and around the brain could be visualised. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) were developed in the 1970s and 1980s. The new MRI and CT technologies were considerably less harmful and allowed for extraordinary structure detail.

The study of brain function with neuroimaging methods started with single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET), because unlike MRI and CT, these scans could create more than just static images of the brain structure. From then many other imaging modalities that can image brain function were developed, like functional MRI (fMRI) that opened the door to the observation of cognition.

Besides its complex nature, expensive hardware and difficult interpretation, neuroimaging is now more and more available, and its potential uses are only limited by imagination. Brain imaging applications are numerous and no longer restricted to medicine or neuroscience: it is already in use, among others, in marketing, economics and forensic science. But although neuroimages represent brain data, they are also just pictures – that are worth a thousand words.

Nowadays there is, however, a contradiction in the interpretation of brain functional images: a contradiction that replicates the evolution of brain research from its beginnings. Neuroimaging is for one hand feeding the idea that different brain areas do different things and are confined to particular processing streams. At the same time, there is a (re)emerging contrary movement towards global views of the brain, evident for example in António Damásio or Nicos Logothetis work.

This talk will focus on the history of brain imaging, its current uses, impact and ambiguities, in the perspective of the scientist.

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The Art of ideas and the ideas of art

Marta de Menezes
, Portugueses artist

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The presentation will focus on my work in general, the concepts it explores and strategies for the use of science, in particular biology and scientific techniques to construct meaningful works of art. I will most especially refer to my work with functional magnetic resonance scans which makes a perfect link between formal and classic representational strategies in art and the use of very clear brain imaging techniques for research in collaboration with the scientists.

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Science-art continuum

Jorge Calado
, Instituto Superior Técnico, Tecnical University of Lisbon, Portugal

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Art is at least thirty thousand years older than science, but once science came into existence it influenced art and borrowed from it. Like a pair of conjugate properties, beauty became a criterion for (scientific) truth. Although science cannot produce art, it can assist in its production. The talk will trace this science-art continuum through the ages.

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