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Amy Tarangelo


Prior to the Scientific Revolution, many European collections and archives took the form of cabinets of curiosity. With an emphasis on the bizarre and wonderful, these cabinets were inventories of the most curious aspects of both the natural and man-made worlds. Paintings, antiquities, fossils, crafts, and preserved animal specimens were combined in a microcosm of the universe. These cabinets served to glorify the collector—often a noble or monarch—by associating him with dominance over the physical world. While these cabinets served to entertain the viewer, they were also visual tools for education.

My project explores the linking of science and art that was characteristic of the cabinet of curiosity, just as it was of scientific illustration, which is also addressed here. The thesis frames curiosity and experimentation as tools that are common to both art making and practical science. Because curiosity also connotes fear, my project looks at the work of modern artists who have addressed the duality of wonder and anxiety in modern science. For the visual segment of my project, I constructed a modern cabinet of curiosities based on the wonders and fears of science in the 21st century. I have blended artistic objects with actual scientific tools, specimens, and procedures to create a collection that is both entertaining and enlightening. Like many cabinets of the 15th and 16th centuries, the work is partly autobiographical and contains curious objects collected in my childhood. My cabinet addresses key scientific topics such as imaging techniques, genetic manipulation, mutation, evolution, classification, and identity through an artistic lens.vI invite viewers to explore and investigate the cabinet in the hope that they too will be both educated and entertained.

SECTOR C: Art Practice and Technology

ADVISERS: Julie Schneider (FNAR) | Michael Leja (ARTH) | Tatyana Svitkina (BIOL)