Monday, December 7, 2015

Book Recommendations

This post is a running list of recent book recommendations from ArtSciConverge participants that explore the art/sci interface in the natural world. There is also a good list of related books on the "SciArt in America" blog.

I created a list on Amazon with additional titles that may be interesting.

"In this exquisitely researched work of fiction, Sylvia Torti explores sex and science, memory and forgetting, and how, in laboratory research on living organisms, we often destroy what we love.”--Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus, finalist for The National Book Award.

More info. Available on Amazon.

The term “PARANOMIA” has multiple meanings, one of them being that which exists alongside the normative. In his inquiry into the entangled aspects of science and contemporary art, Christoph Keller outlines how knowledge is derived in the respective fields.

Available at Spector Books.

The Time of the Force Majeure: After 45 Years, Counterforce is on the Horizon

This book offers a 21st-century manifesto from the pioneers of the eco-art movement. Since the 1970s Helen and Newton Harrison have been creating art inspired by the earth. They established a worldwide network among biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners, politicians, and other artists to initiate collaborative dialogues about ideas and solutions which support biodiversity and community development. This definitive survey traces an influential joint career that has lasted nearly half a century.
More here.

Vladimir Nabokov's career in science, included "a stint as the lepidoptery curator at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology in the 1940s...his scientific work has mostly been treated as a curious fact rather than something of a significance on par with his writing. Fine Lines: Vladimir Nabokov’s Scientific Art, edited by Stephen H. Blackwell and Kurt Johnson and released earlier this year by Yale University Press, is one of the first works to thoroughly investigate his butterfly studies and scientific illustrations."
That Nabokov showed such insight despite working with such apparently limited tools at his disposal argues that he was more than just a competent taxonomist. His work in the Neotropical Polyommatus Blues stands out as a bold and brilliant scientific advance.

"Using the arts for conservation can help attract new audiences, increase understanding, introduce new perspectives, and create a dialogue among diverse people. The arts — painting, photography, literature, theatre, and music — offer an emotional connection to nature. This chapter provides examples of using the arts to inspire people to take action. Planning art activities requires reaching out to artists and the art community, audiences with whom scientists and educators may seldom interact. Conservation problems require creative solutions. It makes sense to access more ways of knowing the world in order to take care of it." -- Oxford Press

"Herman convincingly argues that closely analyzing works of art is an empowering exercise that translates to seeing the 'hidden' clues in many real-life scenarios...

Yet despite her expert clientele, Herman amply demonstrates that tapping into an inner Sherlock Holmes isn't only a skill for investigators and that heightened observation is critical to communicating effectively, empathizing with others, and making informed decisions." --

"This anthology―which includes work by some of the nation's most accomplished writers, including Sandra Alcosser, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Jane Hirshfield, Linda Hogan, Freeman House, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Kathleen Dean Moore, Robert Michael Pyle, Pattiann Rogers, and Scott Russell Sanders―grows out of the work of the Long-Term Ecological Reflections program and showcases the insights of the program's thoughtful and important encounters among writers, scientists, and place.

These vivid essays, poems, and field notes convey a landscape of moss-draped trees, patchwork clear-cuts, stream-swept gravel bars, and hillsides scoured by fire, and also bring forward the ambiguities and paradoxes of conflicting human values and their implications for the ecosystem.

Forest Under Story offers an illuminating and multifaceted way of understanding the ecology and significance of old-growth forests, and points the way toward a new kind of collaboration between the sciences and the humanities to better know and learn from special places." --

"Why do we covet beauty? Why does art, which seems to serve little practical purpose, feel fundamental to our lives?

Such questions have long fascinated philosophers and artists. Now neuroscientists are weighing in as well. The Aesthetic Brain explores the field of neuroaesthetics, the science of how our brain experiences and responds to art, music and objects of beauty. Chatterjee, a neuroscientist, argues that an instinct for beauty has helped our species endure. Art is a product of our quest for beauty and knowledge." -- Scientific American

Experiencing Art: In the Brain of the Beholder

"Shimamura has written the ideal introduction to what science can say about artworks, from prehistoric carvings to the latest video projections. It's readable, smart and informed. Better yet, it's a scientist's take that doesn't neglect the humanities: Shimamura cares about which neurons fire, but also about what Plato thought."

 -- Blake Gopnik, art critic, Newsweek and The Daily Beast

12-7-15: "An audacious collaboration between an award-winning novelist and a leading environmental philosopher, Love in the Anthropocene taps into one of the hottest topics of the day, literally and figuratively—our corrupted environment—to deliver five related stories (“Flyfishing,” “Carbon,” “Holiday,” “Shanghai,” and “Zoo”) that investigate a future bereft of natural environments, introduced with a discussion on the Anthropocene—the Age of Humanity—and concluding with an essay on love.

The “love” these writer/philosophers investigate and celebrate is as much a constant as is human despoliation of the planet; it is what defines us, and it is what may save us. Science fiction, literary fiction, philosophical meditation, manifesto? All the above. This unique work is destined to become an essential companion—a primer, really—to life in the 21st century."

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