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Science Matters

A weekly feature (begun December 2004), supported by the Bryn Mawr College Center for Science in Society,
that highlights current news in the area of science and culture, and connects it with relevant materials on Serendip as well as Center activities.

For the week of March 22, 2005: The Chemistry of Art & Beauty
Online forum for continuing discussion  |  Archives

"Venetian Grinds - The secret behind Italian Renaissance painters' brilliant palettes"
While sifting through 15th- and 16th-century documents at the state archives in Venice, Louisa Matthew came across an ancient inventory from a Venetian seller of artist's pigments. The dusty sheet of paper, dated 1534, was buried in a volume of inventories of deceased persons' estates. This inventory of artists' materials could hold the answer to a question that had long vexed conservation scientists: How did Venetian Renaissance painters create the strong, clear, and bright colors that make objects and figures in their paintings appear to glow? Read more ...

The Stuff of Art
A one-semester course on art and chemistry offered in 2004, jointly supported by the Center for Science in Society and Center for Visual Culture, that delved into the chemical aspects of paint materials. See especially Temperas and Stories.

Beauty: A Conversation Between Chemistry and Culture
A new course (Spring 2005), designed by professors of chemistry and literature, exploring the interdisciplinary topic of "beauty," ranging from the molecular to the political levels, with considerable time spent inbetween on the matter of aesthetics. The arc of the conversation will occur in four stages: Exploring Form: What is Beautiful?; Apprehending the Physical World: The Structures of Nature; Appreciating Beautiful Objects--What Moves Us, How and Why; and The Shaping Work of Politics; or the Ethical Turn: On Beauty and Being Just. Read more...

Artistic License: Color Vision and Color Theory
Imagine yourself in an art museum. You wander slowly from cold room to cold room, analyzing colored canvases on stark white walls. When you reach a particular work, do you prefer to stand back and take everything in at once? Or do you move so close to the painting that the individual brushstrokes become apparent? Several different sensory processes occur in your brain during this trip to the art museum; the majority of them involve visual inputs. How does your brain put together all the information that your eyes receive? This raises questions ranging from depth of field to color. The ideas of color perception and color theory are interesting ones. How do humans account for color and does it truly exist? Read more...

On the lighter side...

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for. ~Georgia O'Keeffe

These pages have been created by Selene Platt in consultation with Paul Grobstein.
Please submit suggestions for other topics to explore in "Science Matters" to Selene Platt

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