Honors | Geology of Sculptors' Material
H205 | 0019 | Basu, A.


Critical evaluation of properties of rocks and minerals used in
sculptures. Origin and distribution of marble (limestone), quartzite
(sandstone), jade, alabaster, and other common earth-materials. Critical
appraisal of the choice of material by sculptors mostly in Western Europe;
geology of localities famous for sculptures and studios. Two lectures and
one laboratory per week.

Goal:  Research in an undefined field, i.e., the application of geology to
aesthetics. Students will learn to formulate a scientific research project
and complete it on time.

Theme:  The central theme of this course is the process of discovering
knowledge within the theoretical and empirical constructs of the science
of geology vis a vis objects of art that are beyond rational explanation.
We expect to introduce "a way of thinking" that connects science
(requiring reproducible results) and products of art (necessarily unique).
Yet, an object of art could be viewed as a product of industry from
geological raw materials. We address neither a controversial question nor
a relevant issue; rather, we focus on an intellectual curiosity about a
rational connection betwee4n seemingly unrelated disciplines and entities.
How would one go about finding the connection, if any, and how would one
approach the problem in a scientifically valid way, constitute the core of
the course.

Textbooks: None.Instead we will have reading assignments from several
books on reserve in the Geology Library (6th Floor) and in the Fine Arts
Library (2nd Floor). Initial assignment will be: Feynman: Surely You're
Joking, Mr. Feynman (Pages 191-198) and Press Siever: Understanding Earth
(Pages 9-18).

Course Organization: The course will be organized in three thematic
parts, not necessarily in a sequence. One part will consist of gathering
information from textbooks, e.g., properties of minerals and rocks and the
processes that formed them, and, the geological reasons for the occurrence
of these materials at certain places on the earth. The second part will be
the examination of the actual material used by sculptors in fashioning
their products. A third part, and the most challenging, will be an
analysis of the reasons why a certain material was used for a sculpture.
This third part will be carried out first in groups and then individually
as projects.

Students will visit the IU Art Museum regularly to familiarize themselves
with objects of art and consult the Fine Arts Library and the museum's
archives for information on the material used in some of the sculptures.
Attempts will be made to visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art and possibly
the Art Institute of Chicago to examine a variety of sculptures (subject
to funding for "field work").

Examinations and Grading:  Grading will be on an "A-F" scale; "P-F" will
not be permitted and an "I" will be allowed only for medical reasons and
extremely extenuating circumstances. Visiting an out-of-town museum may be
required subject to funding.

Two intra-term lecture examinations
10%+15%=25%
Two lab examinations
10%+10%=20%
Oral and written presentations of group projects           5%+20%=25%
Oral and written presentations of individual projects    5%+25%=30%
Final Examination (comprehensive)                              30%