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Nanomicroscopic Image Or Modern Art? 60

SillyConCarbide writes "Every six months, the Materials Research Society holds a science as art competition. The winners from their most recent meeting are particularly breathtaking. Materials researchers may struggle for years with stubborn instruments, fragile crystals or difficult chemical reactions before obtaining a bit of precious data from the exotic substances they study. Now, the scrutiny of samples not only yields potentially important data, but also artistic inspiration. Polymer films, cerium oxide membranes, and tantalum oxide crystals can look beautiful in the right light — especially if that light is an electron beam."
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Nanomicroscopic Image Or Modern Art?

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  • Everything is Art (Score:5, Insightful)

    by acomj ( 20611 ) on Saturday April 26, 2008 @10:24AM (#23207070) Homepage
    I used to work as a security guard in a modern art museum. I the gallery was a plain looking wooden bench. I got asked, "Can I sit on this bench or is it art.?"

    "No its just a bench".

    If nobody can tell what art is anymore then is everything art?

    This is art, in the way that photography is art.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by morari ( 1080535 )
      That just means that modern art is so meaningless and trite that no one knows what could be included as it. I just recently took a trip through the Dayton Art Institute and was seriously perplexed as to just how half of the junk in the "modern art" section managed to be relevant. The answer? It didn't. Not only were many of them simply splattered paint, but over half of the exhibits didn't even have names or titles! The hack that "painted" these can go on forever about how it "really expresses their angst t

      • That just means that modern art is so meaningless and trite that no one knows what could be included as it.

        Well, I take issue with the idea that labeling something as "art" immediately puts in on some pedestal of un-questionablity. If you do question it, it's some kind of reflection on your poor understanding of "art", i.e. "the emperor has no clothes".

        In my view, call anything you like "art", but some art just plain sucks monkey dick. I was at a modern art museum in Munich about a month ago, and one piec
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

          In my view, call anything you like "art", but some art just plain sucks monkey dick.

          YES! That's it exactly. If it even makes concessions to the art of creation, it's art! It doesn't matter if it's a commercial for lemon pledge or your kid's crayon pictures on your fridge. Either way, no one gives a fuck - but they're still both art.

          Art is, well, it's art. Practically everything involves artistry. The notion that you can't question its value is what's retarded.

        • by modecx ( 130548 )
          (Of course, this was a rather strange museum where the alarms went off literally every 5-10 minutes because people got too close to the art). The alarms going off, and the nazi guard that yelled at people was a hell of a lot more expressive of Bavaria than anything I saw in that museum.

          That act might have been a performance art?

          • That act might have been a performance art?

            I thought about that possibility at the time, (mostly for fun). We even asked an employee at a different museum about it. She replied the alarm going off was common, and the existence of it involved politics, and money. She said this museum had a lot of money for an expensive alarm system. I thought that explanation kind of funny, since I've been to museums all over the world, and I've never even heard an alarm go off, much less get yelled at by a Nazi guard. I
            • by modecx ( 130548 )
              Ah, well it was just a funny, and I believe you. However, were I in your stead, and this is just the way I am, but I would have started clapping as if the guard was delivering a wondrous performance, the action alone would almost certainly have enlisted the other museum-goers to recognize the absurdity in an over zealous security guard unintentionally becoming more artful and emotionally moving than the objects he was guarding.
        • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

          I don't know if you can consider something art if talent, skill, and/or hard work doesn't go into it.

          I've been to the museum of modern art or whatever the hell it's called in NYC. (This was way back in elementary school.) I remember looking at an entirely black canvas with a red dot in the center and thinking, "Is this guy an artist or a house painter?"

          I personally just can't imagine something that took so little effort or talent as art.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jugalator ( 259273 )
      Some say "art" is "something that took skill to produce an aesthetic result". So thinking of it as that and aesthetics being in the eye of the beholder, I guess it's subjective if something is art or not.

      And using that "definition", photography can be called art by the one watching it if he/she think skill was well used for the result, but maybe not otherwise.
    • by Knuckles ( 8964 )

      If nobody can tell what art is anymore then is everything art?
      Congratulations, you have just restated the question that artists like Marcel Duchamp [] discovered 90 years ago :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I used to work as a security guard in a modern art museum. I the gallery was a plain looking wooden bench. I got asked, "Can I sit on this bench or is it art.?"

      "No its just a bench".
      Little did you know that all benches at modern art museums are the work of one particular anonymous artist. His work is designed to incorporate both regular employees and patrons of each museum.
    • by qengho ( 54305 ) on Saturday April 26, 2008 @12:05PM (#23207502)

      If nobody can tell what art is anymore then is everything art?
      Apparently so, if you work at the Royal Academy of Arts. []
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Paul Slocum ( 598127 )
      There is plenty of bad art out there. But there's also the problem that art has become much more complex than it used to be. It takes years of study to really understand a lot of recent work and develop and eye for it, and there are mountains of writing behind all of it. Nobody ever comes along as a novice, glances at advanced math and calls it's a bunch of BS because they don't understand it. But people do that all the time with art.
      • art is generally seen as a form of expression, right? showing people how you see things?

        then if something's too complicated for most of the audience to get, it probably fails at expressing those things. in other words, it does suck, simply because it doesn't mean anything to the people you made it for.

        and if you "made it for yourself", ya don't really have the right to complain if others don't get it. after all, you didn't make it for them anyway, right? :P
        • then if something's too complicated for most of the audience to get, it probably fails at expressing those things. in other words, it does suck, simply because it doesn't mean anything to the people you made it for.

          I don't understand quantum mechanics, does that mean that quantum mechanics sucks because it is too complicated for most people to get?

          no, it means that science, physics and math are languages that people have to invest a great deal of time and effort into learning.

          someone might argue that quantum mechanics is not intended for a general audience, it is made specifically for other scientists and theorists already familiar with the terminology and jargon found in that field.

          well, the same has been true with

    • by Twinbee ( 767046 )
      Yes, it could be said 'everything' is art, but that are varying degrees of quality to each 'piece'. Most postmodern art just happens to be crap (with a few exceptions).
    • The problem with being avant-garde is knowing who's putting on who.
      (from Calvin & Hobbes)
    • by ozbird ( 127571 )
      Obligatory Red Dwarf quote:

      RIMMER: Hmm. Marvelous. (Crosses over to a small, angular box near the door.) Now this three-dimensional sculpture in particular is quite exquisite. Its simplicity, it's bold, stark lines... pray, what do you call it?
      LEGION: The light switch.
      RIMMER: The light switch. (In "Gazpacho Soup" tones)
      LEGION: Yes.
      RIMMER: I couldn't buy it, then?
      LEGION: Not really. I need it to turn the lights on and off.
      RIMMER: (Trying to salvage some pride) It's a pity, 'cos if it wasn't a l-li

    • I was at a clay & glass museum once and one of the items in the display case was a plain paper grocery bag. It was opened, a little crumpled and had the tell-tale stamp on it. I couldn't understand what it was doing there. Maybe it was some kind of a joke. After a minute or so, I noticed that the paper seemed just a little bit too thick... It was a clay sculpture. Brilliant!
    • by thegnu ( 557446 )

      If nobody can tell what art is anymore then is everything art?

      I think the fact that modern art has become so popular that museums dedicated to it have opened, where the patrons are so aware of the self-awareness of the artist and art itself that they really have to ask someone if an unmarked bench is art is a work of art in and of itself.

      Transpersonal and temporally dissociative works of art are my favorite.

      I think my favorite work of modern performance art I've created was when I had this apple I was throw

    • by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      I'm a formar art student. [] One of my professors was fond of saying "I don't know what I like, but I know what art is".

      Just because you don't understand calculus doen't mean that calculus isn't math.

      It's been said "be silent and be though a fool, or speak and remove all doubt".

      This is art, in the way that photography is art.

      Photography IS art. Your photography is NOT art.
  • Its a good thing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phpmysqldev ( 1224624 ) on Saturday April 26, 2008 @10:31AM (#23207108)
    In a world where science is becoming less and less listened to, and most research is conducted by biased corporations for the purpose of supporting a product, anything that gets the public to develop a positive interest in science can't be a bad thing.

    Maybe someone will see some of this art and think, wow thats really cool, I wonder why that looks that way. Maybe that will lead people to actually grab a book and learn something.
    • it is really cool. If you need an electron microscope to see it, you are approaching that thousand angels on the head of a pin thing. Andy Warhol would be proud of the toilet too :)
  • by Metasquares ( 555685 ) <slashdot@metasquared. c o m> on Saturday April 26, 2008 @10:40AM (#23207144) Homepage
    I was expecting more designed nano-scale guitars, but seeing the article was actually a very pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting to see sunrises, flowers, or forests come out of those images, even if they were colorized.
  • Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

    by gentlemen_loser ( 817960 ) on Saturday April 26, 2008 @10:43AM (#23207154) Homepage
    Am I the only one who noticed that one of the images looked EXACTLY like a Honda Accord advert?!? Spooky.
  • "sue came in with silks arouunddddd".

    well im not a grammer nazi, but you better correct that nana microscopic thing you got there in the header. or am i nanah myself and its actually nanamicroscopic ?
  • sigh (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Only three images with scale markers, and all the EM pictures colorized. These have to be art, because they definitely are not science. Pretty sad when all the scientists feel they have to colorize their pictures to get anyone to look at them.
  • Some of these look great. Does anyone know where to get the high resolution version of any of the pictures from the article?
  • wtf is nanamicroscopic art? very very tiny paintings of grandmothers? i think they mean "nano"?
  • LINK TO FINAL IMAGE (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Saturday April 26, 2008 @11:26AM (#23207350) Homepage
    The page for the last image is broken.
    Here is a direct link to view final image. []

  • Nanamicroscopic? (Score:1, Informative)

    by MagusSlurpy ( 592575 )
    Who the hell let this guy title the article? It's "Nanoscopic." Nano is a Greek prefix meaning "one billionth," at least when it's spelled correctly. Micro is a Greek prefix meaning "one millionth." Scope is a Greek root meaning "to view."

    Of course, I guess it could be about a grandmother who's a few microns tall. . .
  • Anyone else feel a little sad for the yellow-fatty-cell man [] committing suicide by jumping of a celery stick? Now Toribash [] that's a real nano-manly way to die!
  • Don't forget the NSF's Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge []. This contest is to encourage people to communicate science using images and media. Check out the contest winners from the past few years.
  • Dear NIH, we would like funding because our work could lead towards a breakthrough in nanotechnology. And hey, we can take really cool pictures.
  • Very nice. So where can I get the original high resolution images of these?
  • The photographs may not be art in themselves but they may be inspirational to some artists for the purpose of making art much the same as a beautiful tree would be in the creation of a landscape painting. A modern artist often uses all images natural and man-made or macro and micro to conceive his art.If the resulting image has the 'artistic quality' brought in by the mind and hand of man then it is truly art. Those who can't differentiate art from image are simply not tuning in to the deeper quality of man
  • In the mid 1970's I took a painting class that I attended for several years. Photomicrographs became one of my favorite sources of ideas for painting.

    Aviation Week had published a photomicrograph of a moon rock. Except for being in black and white, it looked like modern art, so I did a painting based on its characteristics, adding color. I later bought a book that had photomicrographs of minerals. I used some of the pictures in that book the same way.

    There are other things that can be used. I once took
  • I think that these images highlight the value of aesthetics in science, especially for the purposes of communication. The scientists rendering these photos make choices of perspective and colour schemes that dramatically effect whether it communicates the message. Science, after all, is not always merely about facts, but about a message. And it is important for scientists to be able to communicate those facts.
    While some may bemoan the lack of scale bars, it must be kept in mind that these images are made
  • Atom Art is the new Pixel Art
  • These images were not produced by the idle children of the wealthy, so it is unlikely that they will ever be considered as "art" by our society's arbiters.
  • Amazing how the world of the very small has so many similarities with the world of the large, or to us, the normal world. Looking at these images reminds me of fractal diagrams I played with during high school math classes. No matter how far down you zoom into the fractal, the image continues to retain it physical and topological properties down into infinitesimal levels. From TFA, the most striking image for me was the simplest. The titanium alloy stress test looks all the world like a lonesome path in the
  • "Nanomicroscopic" is redundant. "Nano" means "nanometer", one BILLIONTH of a meter. If it's nano it's microscopic.

    So mod TFA down!
  • No one truly has the right to dub art as, well, art. If I had the right to define art, it would probably go something like this: Art is everything that has existed, currently exists and will continue to exist. Art is both life and death, materialization and the possibility of becoming - as well as the impossibility of ever having been. I agree with those who said blobs on a canvas is not art, at least not how "they" see it.

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