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Tools change, view is the same

Tools change, view is the same

For most of humanity’s span, painting has been dominated by the use of small pigment particles bound in a sticky transparent medium of some kind. In the last century, we’ve developed new ways of making images. But sometimes, though the tools change, the images are the same.  Human experience is human experience after all.

Tahitian Women Under the Palms  , by Paul Gauguin. 1892, oil on canvas, one of the oldest ways to make an image: colourful pigments in a transparent medium.

Tahitian Women Under the Palms, by Paul Gauguin. 1892, oil on canvas, one of the oldest ways to make an image: colourful pigments in a transparent medium.

Reclaimed   © Adrian Bobb, used with permission. This beach image was created using Photoshop, in other words by painting with backlit pixels, painting with light. Make sure to visit Adrian's rewarding   science and concept art portfolio  , it's stunning.

Reclaimed © Adrian Bobb, used with permission. This beach image was created using Photoshop, in other words by painting with backlit pixels, painting with light. Make sure to visit Adrian's rewarding science and concept art portfolio, it's stunning.

Agar Plate of Fluorescent Bacteria Colonies  , Tsien Laboratory. Will this be the new medium of the future? Not pigments; not pixels, but living material?

Agar Plate of Fluorescent Bacteria Colonies, Tsien Laboratory. Will this be the new medium of the future? Not pigments; not pixels, but living material?

 The beach.  Palm trees. We could show any of these images to an ancestor from thousands of years ago, and they could understand them, even if not how they were created.

This post originally appeared on Scientific American on August 15, 2011.

Tagging SciArt

Tagging SciArt

How bad images rob science (and good ones don’t)

How bad images rob science (and good ones don’t)