Archive for April, 2010

Since there has been a lot of debate about the nature of science and the role of scientists, I thought that some of you might be interested in a discussion on “Visualizing Science”. This discussion is interesting not only for scientists. I think is is also relevant for historians. Participants in the discussion stress the importance of illustrating scientific knowledge through art, in order to inform the wider public on the challenges of the modern science.

Some would argue that science and art are incompatible. By their essence, science is about analyzing data and drawing conclusions, while art is about creation and improvisation. So, it is right to argue that to a certain extent, by trying to illustrate complex concepts, artists might distort their meaning. But, at the same time, in this way, they focus the attention of the wider public on these subjects. Thus, they facilitate the interaction of the public with scientific knowledge.

In addition, the fact that two scientists are trained to talk about certain things does not mean that, in their discussion, they just interchange their own brains. Certainly, they use language to express their thoughts and in this way they transform their scientific concepts from the world of ideas to sentences and words. So, one can say that they will never come to fully transmit their own ideas. In this way, images can add a new perspective on the scientific knowledge.

So far, I talked only about science, but at a closer look, the lines from above could easily apply to the realm of historical scholarship. After all, aren’t we not facing difficulties in expressing our ideas? Well, these difficulties are faced by every human being. Of course, but with us, the problem is much more visible because the language is in fact our main professional tool.

These thoughts came to my mind while I was engaged in colorizing the images for my final project. Surprisingly, I am not worried that I will get the colors wrong. Why? Well, because, as well as with words, images could not provide a full description of the past. Moreover, how can images and words provide a “true representation of the past” if they cannot do it even with the present.

Of course, this does not mean that I will use arbitrary colors for my images. All that I can do is to approximate the colors of the time to convey a glance into that historical period. In addition, I think the goal of this exercise is not only to approximate the reality, but also to engage the attention of the public to this intriguing aspect if studying history.

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Here are the images for my final project:

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design revisited

I’ve revised my design assignment. Initially, I wanted to make just a few minor changes to my header, but after some experimentation with Gradient tool and Layer Mask, I decided to increase the importance of the text and to let the background image play its role as a background. So, I increased the size of the text and filled it with red color.

In the case of the background image I used the gradient tool. It provided a smoother transition from text to image. Also, using Adjustment Layers with  “Curves”, “Hue and Saturation” and “Color Balance” helped me to adjust the transition from black and white to reddish nuances inside the image.

On the level of the whole page, I moved #mainContent and #sidebar1 closer to the header. At the same time, I changed the color of the border bottom from purple to black. Looking forward to your criticism and to the final projects.

Here is my initial design page:

Below is the revised version of the design page:

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This week I commented on Dave’s design assignment.

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I just posted my design assignment. I think that this will also be the basic layout of my final project.

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At the end of the weekend, I think it is a good time for a short but thoughtful talk by Jonathan Klein. His talk is called “Photos that changed the world.” While the title is self-explanatory, I would add that his speech is not about images or photos as such. It is much more about us and our own world.

Below, I am posting some of his thoughts which resonated with me and I hope will resonate with you:

“Images themselves don’t change the world, but we are also aware that, since the beginning of photography, images have provoked reaction in people, and those reactions have caused change to happen.”

“It is not the photographer who makes the images! it is you! We bring to each image our own values, our own belief systems and, as a result of that, the image resonates with us.”

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This week I commented on Dave’s assignment and on John’s post on interactivity.

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