"Conundrum uses photographs, historical medical diagrams, and text to address the ways in which the body is framed by history, science, experience, and desire. Exploring the historic scientific text as a site which functions symbolically as the repository of intellectual knowledge, and the skin as sensor and instrument of desire, it questions the persistent paradigm of Cartesian mind/body division. Contrasting and intertwining representations of ‘objective’ scientific inquiry with those of physical experience, memory, and desire, the book raises questions about the nature of knowledge, what is and can be known about human experience, and how that knowledge has been framed historically.
"Historical anatomy diagrams allude to the conceptual framework of the time in which they were made and the fluidity and instability of scientific knowledge. To look at these diagrams is to examine scientific, political, and social belief; images of the classified, organized corpus become metaphors for the belief that rational analysis can explain and control the individual self. By shifting them from the role of medical history into the context of art, from the classificatory and didactic to the realm of interpretive representation, I intend that readers will consider what kind of information is found here. These diagrams might be seen not only as a tool by which scientists in the past learned about the structure of the body, but also as a symbolic visual representation of a specific paradigm which continues to frame our view of physical experience.
"Color images emphasize skin as the container of the body and the self, as the barrier which separates self from other, and as a cognitive tool for transmitting the sense of touch and perceiving the world. Within these multiple roles of containment and protection, exposure and disguise, pain and pleasure, the skin is in a state of constant renewal, recording aging, injury, and healing, the text of experience. These images give voice to the sensual and evocative body, the experience of vibrant, fluid physicality.
"The cover text is a mirror image of Descartes’ treatise on the mind and the body." — Ann Lovett
Body, mind, philosophy, science, self
4.25 x 6" closed. Opens to 72”. 16 pages.
Rag paper, ribbon.
Inkjet print on rag paper. Accordion fold binding with printed paper-wrapped covers and ribbon ties.
Lovett, Ann, "Conundrum" (1998). Rollins College Book Arts Collection. 84.