photo credit Dr Michael Pritchard FRPS 2011
Creativity Backgrounds were pleased to be asked to sponsor this innovative and exciting "International Images for Science 2011" exhibition staged by the Royal Photographic Society.
More so, as this is the first time for nearly 40 years that the RPS has curated such a front-line and progressive exhibition celebrating scientific and applied photography. The collection of images, I have to say, are amazingly beautiful. Indeed, some of the images are quite breath-taking, which, when you find out what some of the images capture, it challenges your established perception of beauty and appearance.
The Exhibition in my opinion successfully and thought-provokingly
explores and celebrates photography and imaging in science, it also
highlights the importance that imaging plays in scientific disciplines
which is often shielded and hidden from public view and it's quite
amazing to learn just how important imaging is in the fields of science
and research. As Dr Afzal Ansary ASIS FRPS, exhibition co-ordinator
(pictured here with the exhibition in Edinburgh), says in his blurb
about the exhibition "No number of words can express or indicate the
information that a photograph can. Therefore scientists have always
needed to communicate their discoveries by pictorial documentation in
the form of photographs".
I was impressed by the range of
techniques used to capture images, from fibre optics to telescopes,
endoscopes to stereo-microscopes, as well as the application of UV and
Infra-red photography, thermography and even time lapse. The resultant
images, to the lay eye, and I confess here to being of the arts
persuasion, hang before you in the exhibition as works of art. Your
preconception manipulates what you see, and your brain tries to find in
its memory something it reminds you of. So you are tricked into thinking
you're looking at kaleidoscopic space dust, impenetrable black holes,
distant milky ways, laser shows, fluorescent flowers, veins in black
Italian marble, fantasy planets and magical landforms. In reality you
are looking at the Hippocampus of a rat (a rodent brain scan to you and
me), ICE syndrome (an eye complaint) and chlamydia! Sounds horrendous?
Well, actually it is, but then, as I said, it just makes you reassess
your own perception of appearance, which in turn then raises questions
on just how important these images are in terms of ground breaking
medical and scientific research. Without the image, research can't be
done, you can't see improvement or indeed see failure in order to find
solutions and so advance science.
Advancing Science and Exploration
I found the exhibition concept
fascinating from that point of view. I came away thinking just how lucky
we all are as a global nation (for this exhibition is truly
international as it features contemporary photographers and image makers
from all over the world), that we have such dedicated creatives who are
first and foremost scientists, who have looked for solutions medically
as well as technically to advance our knowledge and understanding of
medicine, the human body and yes, even space. We all grew up and are so
familiar with images of stars and planets, space and the moon (whether
these were black and white in the 60s or beamed images from Mars itself)
that we take these for granted, and yet, without such images how could
space travel and advancement actually happen? Images from space are like
an intergalactic roadmap, showing us the birth of stars and the rush of
There is a most stunning image in this
exhibition of "Startrails above Everest" by Babak Tafreshi, which for me
is one of the best images as it combines my love of mountains with
stars and the awesome nature of space.
With this in mind, it's
worth noting that by no means are these all images of a medical nature,
and the almost skeletal image of the "Hyacinth growth sequence" by Hugh
Turvey is so delicate and emotive that the way it's been captured
through x-ray, whites-out and exposes the bulb of the flower, the flesh
of the stem and the network of root hair, so much so that it looks naked
and vulnerable. It's quite something.
Other images are Syred and
Power's image which is an amazing mass of purple, crimson and mauve
spherical elements. It is actually "Memory Foam" which has given me a
whole new perspective on my mattress at home!
There's also Martin
Oeggerli's "Looking at the World through Different Eyes", and what I
thought was a close up of a pineapple, was in fact the eye of a Fruit
A most gorgeous Bark Scorpion has been captured in UV
fluorescence by Charles Hedgcock and would make a stunning image for a
poster, GBEye or Pyramid Posters would go wild to have it Im sure! It
seems to luxuriate in its luminescent avocado green on a rocky
background of amethyst.
If you get a chance to view the
exhibition which has now moved to Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh
Science Festival (untl 15 April 2012) and also at the Royal Albert Hall
(public viewing 24 and 25 March), do try.
You can view the images online at http://www.rps.org/international-images-for-science if you can't get there.