The Anatomy and Physiology of Arts and Entertainment

By - Sep 1st, 2007 02:52 pm
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Living in our bodies can be a terrifying prospect. Their epic mechanics – hundreds upon hundreds of bones and muscles, tens of thousands of feet of blood vessels, 45 miles of nerves, a quadrillion chemical synapses in the brain – allow them to toil 24 hours a day at daunting projects to which we are mostly oblivious: turning food into energy, repairing wounds, building new cells and tissues, fighting viruses, rocketing oxygen through the whole system every 10 seconds. In one hour, the human heart works hard enough to lift one ton of weight one full yard off of the ground.

Human bodies are so strong, so impressively engineered, and yet so unpredictable and delicate. To live in one is to stumble the earth, assaulted by stimuli and impelled by mysterious impulses, able to process your surroundings just enough to know that your body could be destroyed – or could destroy itself – at any moment. Life would be pretty joyless if it weren’t for the wonderful things our bodies let us do, like taste food, see shapes and colors, walk around, explore and communicate with other people. When we experience something pleasurable, we feel it everywhere in our organism.

The fine arts offer perhaps the most comprehensive of these sensory satisfactions. Fusing the kinesthetic, the tactile, the visual and the auditory, art funnels all of the onslaughts and inklings of everyday life into something that even our bodies can understand. It is no wonder that we so frequently describe our impressions of art in physical terms – the taste we have for music, or the warmth of a color. Indeed there may be few other ways to describe the arts with such accuracy.

The body of work produced on local stages over the course of a season itself showcases an infinite array of physical and emotional properties. It can be dizzying to consider the vast spectrum of living art breathing through the many and varied chambers employed as venues. The vitality of performance has been known to thrive in small spaces as few look on and languish in a teeming crowd.

Here, then, is the city’s fine arts season – dance, theatre, music and visual arts – dissected and presented in an anatomical and physiological guide. Let this be an attempt to catalogue the Anatomy and Physiology of Arts and Entertainment. We know that your arts experience this year, transmitted through your body’s remarkable five senses, will be felt most keenly in your heart.

To read all of our Fine Arts season previews, check out the current issue.

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