Many vision scientists seem to have a penchant for creating art, and Dr. Paul Witkovsky is no exception. Paul is a famous vision scientist that spent most of his career at NYU New York City in the department of Ophthalmology. His research spanned the fields of retinal physiology, retinal ultrastructure and pharmacology.
His major contribution has been in trying to understand the role of dopamine in the retina and its role in light adaptation and cone vision. This work he has passed on to his academic progeny including David Krizaj here at the Moran Eye Center, Bill Brunken at SUNY and Jozsef Vigh at Colorado State University.
Paul has always been a “renaissance man” interested in travel, languages, music and art as well as science. Above, you can see one of his recent abstract paintings (acrylic).
This short video features the art of Steven Erra, a photographer who is losing his vision due to a retinal degenerative disease, yet is generating beautiful work by light painting. Steven is a member of The Seeing With Photography Collective, a group of sight impaired artists who are making waves in the art world through their imagery and inspiring the work of both sighted and non-sighted photographers alike.
Browsing through the latest issue of National Geographic, with a must read, but emotionally difficult article on The Invisible War on the Brain, I came across a phenomenal image of an eye that really grabbed my attention. The French artist, JR did an amazing large-scale photograph installation last February at the David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center. This photograph was 80 of the dancers with the New York City Ballet, posing on a massive sheet of paper arranged to resemble a human eye. This art project was done as part of the NYCB 2014 Art Series and I am just now becoming aware of it. Looks like it was an amazing installation. Sorry to have missed it.
There is an interesting Youtube on the behind the scenes. The large scale photograph was only one part of the Art Series as other images included various aspects of ballet printed on distressed wood. For more images of the project, check out this site.
The famous Prado Museum in Madrid has opened up a new exposition for the blind by making a combination of elaborate copies of six of the museum’s masterworks through 3D printing and painted reproductions. The whole idea is for the blind to be able to touch the works and open up a whole new arena of accessibility to the visually impaired.
The Prado is one of the museums that we here at Webvision have not yet made it to. One of these days, that will have to happen.
We at Webvision would like to wish you the very best this holiday season. As in past years, we like to post an image from retinal science that is somehow evocative of the Holiday Season and this year, Gabe Luna from the Steve Fisher / Geoff Lewis laboratory delivers a stunning image of astrocytes in a retinal flat mount, but with a twist… We think you’ll be seeing more of Gabe’s beautiful imagery, but for now, here is his description of how he made this image:
“I used a GFAP-GFP mouse to identify all the astrocytes in the retina and manually (at the time it was manual) annotate their coordinates, then we used a probabilistic random-walk algorithm to go to each “cell center” and perform a segmentation result of that one astrocyte. Once all the 5,000 or so cells are segmented as a greyscale image of the individual cell, then they are assigned various hues that are spectrally distinct and the montage is re-assembled into one large image. The image there is a grossly down-sized image of the original. The original was a seamless mosaic of 412 individual z-stacks of about 15 planes at 1 micron intervals, using a 40x oil immersion lens.”
The artist Sargy Mann has painted most of his life, but in his mid-30s, progressive development of cataracts followed by retinal detachments and corneal perforations brought complete blindness. However, Sargy Mann continued to paint, developing an amazing collection of work that has encompassed landscapes, still life work and his latest work, standing figures. The BBC has done a wonderful interview with Sargy linked above.
There is also a longer mini-documentary by Peter Mann that documents the process of how Sargy Mann produces a painting that is well worth your time.
This is another area where 3D printing can revolutionize people’s lives. Making 3D prints from photographs enables physical representation of imagery. The Singapore based company that is doing this social experiment is called called Pirate3D with easy to use 3D printers. The director of this film short, Marco Aslan tells a story of five people, Gabor, Mario, Meritxell, Yassine and Daniela who have lost their eyesight, yet each has a vivid memory captured in time on a photograph. These photographs were then modeled and printed in 3D allowing each person to re-experience that photograph through touch.
The Moran Eye Center is issuing a call for proposals for two different art exhibits related to vision that we are curating: a permanent collection which will be housed in the new Mid-Valley Health Center and an exhibit that will be held at Art Access Gallery from April 17 – May 8th, 2015.
The deadline for the Mid-Valley Moran Eye Center location is Nov. 28th.
The deadline for the Art Access show is January 30th.
It is now less than a month before the 2014 ARVO, this year being held in Orlando, Florida and many folks will be starting to put their posters together for the meeting. Ideally, you should have already started, and there are many ways to do it, but judging from the Webvision server logs, lots of folks are looking for hints/clues or instructions on how to make their posters. I presume that much of this traffic is from folks who are unexperienced in presenting their work in poster form, so consider this a short primer of sorts on how to design and create a poster that will effectively communicate your work.
In yet another example of art imitating life. At the last ARVO meeting, a couple of us went up to the Chihuly garden in Seattle and ran across a piece of blown glass which stunningly, reminded me of what the human retina looks like in a patient suffering from the blinding disease, retinitis pigmentosa.
The image is a 60x image using laser scanning confocal image of the murine retinal nerve fiber layer after 2 weeks after retinal detachment. The ganglion cell axons (red), astrocytes (green), and blood vessels (blue) are labeled using SMI-32, GFAP, and Collagen IV antibodies respectively.
This image of ganglion cells, Müller cells and starburst amacrine cells in the human retina is from a patient suffering from retinitis pigmentosa (RP). This disease this patient suffered from slowly causes people affected with this disease to go blind and is a constant reminder to me of why we engage in our research.
For some, this is a pretty, though abstract image created through a set of technologies called computational molecular phenotyping (CMP). The colors in this image come from antibodies labeling taurine, glutamine and glutamate, all small molecular species that reveal metabolic states in these tissues.
For us, these images reveal variation in cell types as well as abnormalities in other kinds of cells that presage retinal stress and the cellular responses that alter the retina in ways that both cause blindness and make it difficult to rescue vision loss. We also see the beginnings of changes in the circuitry of the retina that forever will alter the way that diseased retinas process information.
Image courtesy of Bryan William Jones, Ph.D. and originally appeared here.
The animated image above is a sequence of abstracted neuronal images from brain visual cortex that I originally posted here. The images are from neurons labeled with different probes, though that is not important for the discussion here. What is relevant is that I’ve been wondering why science does not more widely implement animated GIFS to explain and represent scientific image data for ease of communication. The .gif format is one of the oldest standards on the Internet for display of raster graphics, introduced by Compuserve back in 1987. In addition to their long history on the Internet, .gif files have wide support and are incredibly portable. (The history of the gif is summarized nicely here on a PBS Off Book video on Youtube). Animated gifs have made a resurgence of sorts on the Internet as a means to communicate or show motion in ways that were not originally intended, but nevertheless are innovative and useful. It would seem that for scientists and those interested in communication of scientific ideas, supplemental data are an ideal way to show animation or motion or any number of approaches useful to scientific communication. Granted, one can do all sorts of animations with video formats like MPEG or Flash (not very convenient for portable uses like phones or tablets) and new HTML5 and emerging HTML standards, but the gif is a robust standard that has been around for many years and can be utilized by those in parts of the world where bandwidth and some of the latest tools are not as available as they are in 1st world countries.
As science and science education becomes more available via open access to wider audiences around the globe, we should strive to adopt open standards with low to reasonable standards for accessibility and gifs fit nicely within those requirements.