Speaker Meeting In person at UUFE 7pm

Speaker Meeting In person at UUFE 7pm

Can Scientific Photographs Exist as Art?

 Speaker:  Professor Norm Barker MA, MS, RBP, FRPS

    Departments of Pathology and Art as Applied to Medicine

     Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.

Description: Ironically, photography was invented by a scientist and an artist.

Early on in this invention process it was the scientists’ who realized the importance of this new and novel process to document and to elucidate their scientific activities. The idea of having objects draw themselves on a plate with-out the aid of an artist hand is a concept that is foreign to us now but that’s exactly how one of the early inventors, William Henry Fox Talbot described his Calotype process. Scientific photography– especially microscopic subjects, are very rarely held with the artistic respect as other areas of “Fine Art Photography”. This is because the subject matter often seems alien to most and therefore the viewer lacks a common visual reference. For the individuals who have scientific training, these images are often appreciated with wonder and awe. If it’s the aim of the fine arts to give insight or inspiration, then the scientific image is worthy of consideration as an artistic medium. The sciences and arts share a common creative aesthetic. For example, there is a beauty in a well-designed experiment and many leading scientists are active in the creative process, whether it is an elegant solution to a scientific problem or writing, painting, sculpture or music, the so-called creative arts. The arts and sciences also share a common aesthetic of discovery through observation. Photography is not only a system for illustrating science; in many ways it’s also a method for doing science. This talk will examine how the context in which a photograph is viewed can have an effect on how the image is interpreted.

Norm Barker is a Professor of Pathology and Art as Applied to Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine. He is Director of Pathology Photography and Graphics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. A graduate of The Maryland Institute College of Art, he also holds a M.S. from Johns Hopkins University in education as well as a M.A. from The University of Baltimore in publications design. He specializes in photomicroscopy and macro photography. He is a Fellow of  The Royal Photographic Society in Great Britain and the Biocommunications Association. His work appears in textbooks, journals and museums worldwide.

His photographs are in the permanent collections of more than forty museums including The Smithsonian, The George Eastman Museum, The American Museum of Natural History, The Nelson-Atkins Museum and The Science Museum in London. He has published 9 books and numerous scientific articles and book chapters. His current traveling exhibition “Hidden Beauty: Exploring The Aesthetics of Medical Science” shows the beauty of medicine and the human body and will be going on a museum tour in 2014-2023. His latest book “Perambulations” was be published in the fall of 2022 by Man & Lion Press.


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