2005/10/08

Science imaging: Towards the microcosm



Science gives us to see further than the first degree image that projects on our retinas and ... when it comes to seeing more, science holds a marvelous tool-chest of techniques. Science has indeed drastically demultiplied the potential of first degree images that our retinas can absorb. Basically science helps us enlarging our vision of reality in three directions:
  • towards the microscopic,
  • towards the macroscopic
  • towards the abstraction emerging out of mathematical formulas.

The visual imaging derived from scientific approaches is now transforming what has been our visual normality until very recently I mean this first degree image of reality projecting on our retina. It will gradually expands humanity's visual horizons towards the micro and macro infinites while giving us the tools that will allow us to dwell into the patterns of the real resulting from the non-ending changes that constitute the deep reality of our universe.

One thing is for sure we will more and more be inundated under visual signs and images that are not resulting directly from the direct projection of an "existing" on our retinas. I mean the proportion of images that are derived from environments not directly accessible to the human eye but made accessible through the intervention of some technological captioning device is become absolutely dominant and this will not go without dramatic consequences for the individuals and their societies.

It makes no doubt at all that such a multiplication of visual images of things that are so largely unknown today by the citizens of the world will have an incalculable impact upon the perception of reality and its understanding by future generations:
  • scientific imaging is bound to modify our perception of what reality is all about. Those images will be giving to all a visual innate understanding of aspects of reality that earlier were only accessible to highly educated and specialized people. Something as an innate basic understanding of the complexity of reality will be made possible from the systemic nature of our cosmos to the systemic nature of the microscopic.
  • scientific imaging will enlarge the scope of the visual forms and colors that are accepted by humans. Forms that were unknown earlier will gradually be "normalized" in the psyche of all on earth. This abundance and richness of forms and colors is bound to to have an immense effect on future visual representations in the arts and in design.
  • scientific imaging will enhance the sense that some "hard-wiring" must be at work deep inside the "mechanics" of change that, in the end, is resulting in the coating of reality under a surface layer made of patterns that are somehow giving us the harmony and rhythm of the lines forms colors and sounds found in our reality.

See here some examples about scientific imaging towards the microscopic. These are all images representing a snapshot of reality... albeit at a level that is inacessible to our naked eye. What is represented here is thus as much real as the face of a person represented in a portrait or a landscape brushed on a canvas.



1. From the "Microscopic Wood Anatomy of Central European species website". This site hosts a giant archive of high resolution images open to the public.

Radius section of Pinus Strobus L. White Pine

Radial section. Prunus armeniaca L. Stone Fruit: Apricot


2. From the site "Molecular expressions". The Molecular Expressions website features photo galleries that explore the fascinating world of optical microscopy offering one of the Web's largest collections of color photographs taken through an optical microscope (commonly referred to as "photo-micro-graphs").


Photomicrograph and digital image (photographs taken through an optical microscope) of the World's most famous beers: Budweiser (US).

Photomicrograph and digital image (photographs taken through an optical microscope) of the World's most famous beers: Busch (US).

Photomicrograph and digital image (photographs taken through an optical microscope) of the World's most famous beers: Becks (Germany)


Photomicrograph and digital image (photographs taken through an optical microscope) of the World's most famous beers: Fischer LaBelle Strasbourgeoise (France).



3. From "MicroAngela": a creation of Tina (Weatherby) Carvalho of the Biological Electron Microscope Facility, (BEMF), part of the Pacific Biomedical Research Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.


This is a house fly, Musca domestica. The mouthparts of the fly (the proboscis) are complex structures specially adapted for sucking up fluids. Its head is about half centimeter across. Check now a zoom on its mouth...




Cuticle Around Insect Gland
Insects often have intricately sculptured cuticles. This fly had a pretty smooth exoskeleton, except for this area around a pheromone gland. Probably the cuticle has this shape to provide for more surface area for the hormone that is secreted to flow and then evaorate. Pheremones are used to attract the other gender of the same species for mating.


Insect Eye
Many insects have large compound eyes, made up of many six-sided compartments called ommatidia. Each ommatidium has a lens, a crystalline rod, and a collection of light-sensitive cells. Each ommatidium functions as a on/off and bright/dim detector. Insects with the best eyes can probably form a pretty good image, but they are best at detecting movement, for finding prey or for avoiding predators. Dragonflies may have as many as 36,000 ommatidia in each eye. Some insects, like bees and butterflies, can see colors well.




Over time the proliferation of images out of the treasure trove of scientific imaging will have a lasting impact on our perception of reality and thus also on the shaping of the future visual arts. The acceptance of scientific imaging will transform the knowledge behind it into a hegemonic culture and its values will be taken over as the common sense values of all. Thus a consensus culture will develop in which everybody will come to identify the knowledge of the men of knowledge with his own system of belief ...and the present-time culture sucker power-art triumvirate will not make his mea-culpa but will run to follow the worldview of the time.

The cultural reassessment of the visual arts, that is engendered today under the pressure of the exponential rise in scientific imaging, is pulling humanity to awaken at the dawn of what will be seen a few centuries from now as the greatest of renaissances, as the unification of humanity under the banner of "the citizenry of the earth".


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