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BCA News: Fall 2019

Celebrating Contemporary and Extraordinary Images of Science
Norm Barker & Michael Peres

Panorama of the installation of Images from Science 3 at the RIT City Space Gallery, downtown Rochester, NY.

On a Friday evening November 1, 2019 more than 300 people gathered for the opening of beautiful exhibition at a stunning gallery space in downtown Rochester NY. Images from Science 3 was on display at the RIT City Art Space, the spacious gallery sits directly behind the Liberty Pole. The gallery is located in the historic Sibley building. This opening was just part of several events that were held over two days to celebrate Images from Science 3.

Exhibition organizers: Ted Kinsman, Paul Crompton (Judge), Norm Barker and Michael Peres

The organizers, Professors Michael Peres, Norm Barker, Bob Rose, Ted Kinsman and Chris Jackson would like to thank the BioCommunications Association as one of the sponsors that made this traveling exhibit and catalogue possible.

The catalogue, Images from Science 3, (IFS 3) is the companion text to the exhibition showcasing full-color scientific images ranging from the intricate beauty of a frozen snow crystal to the interaction of T-cells fighting cancer. The images invite readers to view examples of wide-ranging techniques in science photography, videography, and illustration that reveal science in unique new ways. Several BCA and AMI members contributed to the exhibit. IFS 3 presents 71 image makers from 18 different countries, whose work was selected by an international panel of imaging experts. More than 15 of the exhibit's participants were in attendance for the opening festivities. Scientific image makers came from as far away as Stockholm, Sweden, Dublin, Ireland, Cardiff, Wales and California.

Images from Science 3 catalog cover showcasing the beautiful illustration from Gary Welch, Targeted Antibody Therapy in Breast Cancer, 2017

The catalogue is available from RIT Press. A special thanks to Chris Jackson, Associate Dean and Professor in the School of Art and Design at RIT and one of the exhibit organizers. He designed the exhibit panels and developed a wonderful companion website from the exhibit.

Curator of Technology at the George Eastman Museum, Todd Gustavson shares information about the Alethoscope from the 1860s which has lovely wood veneer. Specially prepared translucent photos were backlit usually by a kerosene lantern and when viewed one could get dramatic visual effects, like turning a day time scene into to night.

Earlier that Friday participants were in for a real treat, we had a behind the scenes private tour of The George Eastman Museum Technology Vault with Curator Todd Gustavson. This link is probably as close as most people will ever get to the vault because it's not open to the public.

While at the Eastman Museum we also had a look with Curator Ross Knapper at rare historically important science photographs from Eadweard Muybridge and Harold Edgerton just to name a few. We then had the opportunity to tour the museum at our own pace and enjoy the current exhibits and the wonderful mansion that was George Eastman's home. Then we were off to the RIT City Space Gallery for the opening that went from 6-9 that evening. After the opening, the celebration continued at the Genesee Brew House overlooking the Falls of the Genesee River and folks had a chance to relax and enjoy some good conversation and microbrews.

A view of some of the panels and video from the exhibit.

The exhibition and allied publication Images from Science 3, now in its third installment, seeks to reveal the contemporary storylines of photography in science and in new frontiers of scientific imaging. Leading experts from the fields of astronomy, medical photography and illustration, material sciences photography, and related industries serve as judges of an international online competition to gather the best and most thought-provoking images, animations, and short form moving media currently at large in science photography and imaging. As in past iterations, a primary goal of Images from Science 3 is to produce a touring exhibition with international breadth. This was certainly true of Images from Science 1 and 2, which traveled to more than 35 venues worldwide. New to Images from Science 3 is an enduring website that better relates the importance of online technologies, social media, and evolving moving media forms to furthering the reaches and import of science photography to an attentive public.

Paul Crompton discusses imaging technique with microscopist Karl Gaff one of the contributors who traveled from Dublin, Ireland.
Talking science, some of the participants enjoying the exhibit.

The role of photography in science has been a largely overlooked story in the literature of photographic history. Part of the story told well is the consequential role of nineteenth-century scientists in developing the early building blocks of the medium—optics, chemistry, camera technologies, and the theories of light and color. They, along with artists and enterprising promoters, instinctually understood the possibilities of photography for seeing the unseen, whether in the far-flung reaches of the celestial skies or in the molecular functions and structures of human and natural life. As a result, early science photographs, including the first photograph of the moon, taken by American scientist John W. Draper from his observatory in 1840, and the first X-ray image by German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895—among many other "photo science firsts"—held persuasive and pervasive power in advancing new avenues of scientific discovery and profoundly influencing the course of human knowledge. The story of photography's role in science has continued unabated from then to now, and at an ever-quickening pace and with increasing cultural importance. From picturing the invisible realm of human DNA to exploring the rings of Saturn or viewing Earth's global warming, photography and science are indispensable partners whose evolving story continues to shape the ways we know ourselves and our seen and unseen world.

Dr. Steven Galbraith shares some of the treasures from the Carey collection.

On Saturday, we started early in the morning for a tour of the RIT Image Permanence lab with Jenn Jae Gutierrez, followed by a tour of the well-equipped studios and labs. Then onto the Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Graphic Arts Collection where we had another interesting tour from Curator Dr. Steven Galbraith who picked out several historical gems to show us. One of the most gorgeous examples was The Kelmscott Chaucer, (Fig 10)  one of the most beautifully illustrated books of the Arts & Crafts movement. It was also a thrill to see that the Cary Collection also has the original working printing press on which this masterpiece was made. A bibliophiles dream to see both of these historic artifacts together in the same place!

A quick lunch and then back downtown for a gallery talk and conversations from the artists. Professor Norm Barker gave a talk on the historical significance of the scientific Image and then we had a Q&A session moderated by gallery director John Aasp. We heard from the organizers and a panel of some of the judges discussing how they made their decisions in choosing photographs, videos and illustrations for the exhibit. The image makers then contributed to the conversation by sharing the successes and failures as well as challenges in their imaging practice.

It certainly was a fantastic couple of extremely busy days that flew by. Special thanks go out to Professor Michael Peres and his organizing team at RIT for putting on this very entertaining and educational program. The touring exhibit, Images from Science 3 will be traveling down to Johns Hopkins University in February, 2020 for two months and the exhibit will be available free of charge to travel to your institution, with the host venue picking up shipping costs. For more information, please contact Professor Norm Barker to bring this fascinating educational exhibit which celebrates "Contemporary and Extraordinary Images of Science" to your institution.

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