John Gould Florisuga Atra in online IMAS exhibit

The Science and Art of Cooperation

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Opened June 26, 2020

Social behavior is a trait that has been retained in species across many different orders of life, from fish to birds and more, as observed by artists and scientists. Recent scientific work reveals that the variation, or adaptation, of cooperation begun at the origin of life at a molecular level. Recent research reveals to us that the physical linkage of the first self-replicating molecules may have been selected based on their capacity to perform cooperative catalysis (Xavier 2020). By viewing an individual as a dynamic unit of cooperative cells and molecules, we see that molecules that cooperate become a more successful whole, who is then naturally selected. Artists have shaped the way that scientists saw nature, and science has in return shaped the practice of art. By examining works such as Gould’s, we can further investigate the theories of classic naturalists such as Darwin’s and re-examine them in modern science.

“Natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, the slightest variations; rejecting those that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.” – Charles Darwin

Exhibition curated by Yelitza Garcia.

Image: John Gould. “Florisuga Atra,” ca. 1850 – 1880. 1985.02.001

The Science and Art of Cooperation

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