SciArt Magazine - All Issues | Page 23

For the first time, I did astronomical image making in an orthodox sense—I downloaded gigabytes of raw data from the observations, processed it using astronomical software, and made my own composite image—so instead of starting with a published image and making a new painting from it, this time I started with the actual data and made a new visualization from it. In that sense, my visualizations are completely scientifically valid, although obviously, I’m motivated by different things, perhaps, in terms of my reasons for making it and what I’m trying to achieve. way of communicating information. Color has many associations and meanings, and scientists usually limit themselves to a very restricted range of choices, perhaps either because they don’t want to deal with those associations or because they are oblivious to them; but the way that we process images is in relation to an immense stored database in our heads or shared experience of making images, so a lot of my work is showing how a particular color choice for an image will change its meaning and its resonance. One of the things that I like to think about and show in my work is that the colors that we use to display scientific images are arbitrary. Scientists know and acknowledge this, but what they don’t spend a lot of time thinking about is that when you color an image, it resonates in the world of images, which is an incredibly rich, nuanced, and sophisticated JF: I think the underlying themes are consistent between the scientific work and the abstract work. I’m happy for people to respond to different series in different ways. I think that’s only natural. AT: Is it important for people to see the work through a scientific lens? Universe Baby Picture (2002). 72” x 36.” Acrylic paint on canvas. Image courtesy of the artist. Visit his website at SciArt in America December 2013 23