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Mieke Roth <[log in to unmask]>
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SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 12 Aug 2008 15:42:02 +0200
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Hi all,

This morning I had a talk with the professor. As you can imagine we are
looking for a subject that really interests us both and we know will get us
going for the next few years. We think we are getting somewhere. 

One thing I regularly encounter is the difference between my perspective of
how something should look and how my customers see it. For example: the
Netherlands are next to the North sea, a shallow sea between the main land
of Europe and the UK. Because it is a shallow sea I tend to make the water
the colour that it is, namely a brownish grey. But... my customers do not
understand this and most of the time we end up with clear blue water. In my
eyes an abomination, but it is what people understand to be water. Another
example is the discussion I had with Gay Malin on the Ithaca conference (she
talked about it with more people, so I think some of you know what I mean).
She is complaining that within facial reconstruction the fundamentals of the
model used are in fact wrong. At this moment tissue dept is used to
reconstruct the face. The tissue dept used to model the reconstruction
depends upon racial, sex and age differences, but the base of the data used
for this is very narrow. Most of the time only 2 or 3 people within a
specific category, if you are lucky. She would like a whole different
approach to it: on skulls you are able to determine the place where the
muscles are attached to the skull. To use these and build the face up from
the muscles itself, she says, is a much better predictor of the real
representation than the tissue dept. She even goes so far that she thinks
even a dimple in one's cheek could be predicted by the shape and size of the
place the muscle attaches to the skull.   

These two examples, one from a simple perspective and the other from a
perspective that touches the base of a profession, are what we all deal with
on a daily base working with the interpretation of other peoples data. And I
think a very interesting area to do research in!

The professor and I talked about the perspective of people looking at
visualisations and the effectiveness of specific kinds of (..models used
for..) visualisations for different purposes. We also talked about the
danger of simplifying representations of reality (people might think that
those ARE reality) too much. Although we don't have a specific question yet,
the field has been narrowed a whole lot!

My professor thinks that getting this down to a good PhD question could have
international implications. I also talked about the fact that I don't want
to do this without funding and he gave me the name of the former president
of the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW in Dutch), the most
prestigious organisation in our country, comparable to the Nobel
organisation in Norway. This former president is very much interested in the
combination of art and science and might be willing to help me getting funds
and other necessary means to do this research. Another possibility is asking
a pharmaceutical company or such to sponsor me, but that would narrow my
field maybe too much.

Any case, this field would also mean that I have a subject that I easily can
write/illustrate about for the general public. And that is also what I was
aiming for!

I keep you posted ;-)!


P.S. even the heated discussion about the Nature article helped!