Today through scientific and technological innovations, we are able to view images of ourselves that were not previously possible. How have these images come to define our culture?
Much of our global visual culture includes images that would never be visible without the aid of technology. Images commonplace to us today would have been unimaginable by humans a few centuries ago. Our natural world has been revealed to us in deeper ways through the development of technology. How have these images affected our culture now that we can see inside ourselves, what we are made of, what is going on inside our bodies, and how our lifestyles may affect our insides?
For instance, a smoker can realize the impact of their choice to smoke by viewing an x-ray of their body or photo of a smoker's lungs, viewing the destruction of their lungs. How could these images change or alter our society in terms of lifestyles and personal values? Can these images change the way we view ourselves, or do we become distanced from our interiors because we cannot physically see our insides without a special photograph? How do these images affect the way in which we view other people?
recent mapping of the human genome and discussion about genetic
engineering, images of DNA, the material that provides genetic
instruction for all organisms, have become ubiquitous. Doe these images
visually construct identity?
DNA as seen under a microscope; a DNA model from PBS.org
The iconographic "earthrise" photograph, taken by the Apollo 8 crew in 1968, brought a new visual perspective of our world. How has the ability to view the world beyond our perception changed our values as a culture?
In addition to bringing far away objects closer, technology has made our bodies visible in ways never before possible.
Film and video have offered new ways for us to visualize the world by freeing human eyes from the constraints of time.
Conversely, time-lapse photography (similar to stop-motion animation) speeds up slow natural processes to a rate at which we can perceive them.
Collected here is just a sampling of examples of the visual world of the aided human eye. Such images, now commonplace, would have been inconceivable a few centuries ago - some even a few decades ago. Technology will undoubtedly continue to shape our visual culture by making visible that which the naked eye cannot perceive.
For further Information/Exploration:
The horizon of the aided eye by Luc Courchesne (portion of Master's Thesis)
HubbleSite.org for more images from the Hubble Space Telescope
Molecular Expressions (TM) Photo Gallery for more microscopic images, organized by category
X-Ray Gallery at TeraLab.org
Collection of Super-Slow-Motion Clips by Dr. Dave