The Djerassi Fog
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The Djerassi Fog

I have always struggled with the definitions of art and science. To avoid categorization, I often take refuge in the fact that what I am doing—creating comics about science—is probably equally dismissed by both artists and scientists. Ironically defined by Art Spiegelman as "the bastard offspring of art and commerce" [1], comics are indeed a strange medium that escapes categorization (not illustration, not literature) and traditionally does not like to take itself too seriously.

However, the time I spent at Scientific Delirium Madness 2016 in the company of so many brilliant scientists and artists who all somehow defy definition made me reconsider my own medium. I became convinced that it is not despite comics' lack of definition but because of it that they can be so powerful. Using a medium that does not have many expectations attached to it enables me to reach a new audience for science.

So I decided to embrace the ambiguity of comics and accept that state of "not knowing" that Stuart Firestein describes in his book Ignorance (2012) [2] as the prerequisite for any original discovery. This is why, during my residency, I often ended up drawing the fog as a metaphor for my experience at Djerassi. The beautiful California fog that, while in our language often becomes a symbol of uncertainty and confusion, also provides the breeding ground for the most magnificent redwood trees.

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Matteo Farinella, Djerassi Fog, ink on paper and digital colors, 2016. (© Matteo Farinella)

Matteo Farinella

References and Notes

1. A. Spiegelman, "Birth of the Comics," The New Yorker, 26 December 1994, p. 106.

2. S. Firestein, Ignorance: How It Drives Science (New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2012). [End Page 238]

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