Exploring the Medium: The Indexical Function of Artistic Photomicrography Made by the Scanning Electron Microscope

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  • Exploring the Medium: The Indexical Function of Artistic Photomicrography Made by the Scanning Electron Microscope

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Abstract:

  • Abstract (short paper)

    Photography used as proof of scientific data often has to deal with problems arising from its overlapped indexical and iconic features. This paper is concentrated in the specific area of photography made by the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), which has expanded the boundaries of observation and representation of the micro world since it was introduced to scientific research in the mid-1960s. With the emergence of the digital era, photography‟s status as independent indexical register of reality began to be undermined by computerized imaging processes. Nevertheless, scientific photomicrographs aim to provide scientific evidence of data as accurately as possible. However, the results obtained with the SEM can be disorientating because the process of producing a picture is camera-less. The apparatus tries to recreate a reality that is not a visual phenomenon, which scientists try to analyze from its image that is captured through the SEM technology. This paper considers some of the ways in which SEM microphotographs can be used in an artistic practice, and argues that there is an urgent need to rethink the indexical function of SEM photography. The author‟s artistic practice can be seen as rejecting the traditional practice of minimizing noise in scientific representation and, instead, embracing experimentation that encourages the unexpected over the predictable.

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