Honors | Geology of Sculptor's Materials
H205 | 24546 | Abhijit Basu


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 between 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 9-17).

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 project 5%+25%=30%