Thursday, August 09, 2007
Chemistry in pictures
Joachim Schummer and Tami Spector have just published in Hyle a paper based on their presentation at the 2004 meeting ‘The Public Images of Chemistry’ in Paris. This was one of the most interesting talks of the conference, looking at how the images used to portray chemists and their profession both by themselves and by others over the past several centuries have influenced and been influenced by public perceptions. They look at tropes drawn (often subconsciously) from aesthetics in the visual arts, and at how the classic ‘brochure’ photos of today often still allude to the images of flask-gazing cranks found in depictions of alchemists and derived from uroscopy. (See, for example, the logo for my ‘Lab Report’ column in Prospect.) I shamelessly plagiarize these ideas at every opportunity. Recommended reading.