Rob O'Neill
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Artist: Rob O'Neill
Title: "dataProjections" (part of the Morphology Project)
Year: 2006-2008
Statement: dataProjections is a print series depicting 3D structures generated procedurally from morphometric data collected in the process of research by a biological anthropologist on a series of gorilla crania. Passing are the days when a scientist would measure skeletal elements with calipers, in its place are digital tools that happen to capture not only the gestural path of the researchers process, but also the shape of the specimen in three-dimensions. This process is akin to the scientist invisibly drawing the specimen and is indicative of the seldomly represented gestural process of science. Custom software tools were developed to create these structures based on the raw data. Visual reconstructions from this data are typically simple but these images attempt to reveal the beauty inherent in the landmarks and the specimens they represent. The structures generated were then either mirrored to create a semblance of the original object or placed to create a graphic shadow representing the projection of thought and analysis based on the data. The graffiti-style result of the shadow is a representation of the scientist's hand through the eyes of the artist.

Morphometrics is the measure of shape. Most commonly it is employed to describe the shape of biological organisms. Modern morphometric analysis is carried out via anatomical landmark location and recording by the biologist using a stylus-style apparatus that notes the cartesian coordinate of a point to a computer. These three-dimensional points are stored in a spreadsheet or database and statistical operations are performed on them to analyze the shape. A suite of small scripts were written to import, analyze, and visualize this data in Autodesk Maya. Animation software such as this is not commonly used in the biological sciences but through the process of creating this series of work a tool set for geometric morphometric analysis was developed. For this piece, a procedural curve is drawn through the imported point cloud, following the path of the scientists hand in the collection process. This suite of tools is available to animators and morphometricians alike. Lighting and rendering of the images was carried out in Autodesk Maya.


Exhibition History: Rhizome ArtBase March 14, 2007

ASCI Digital'06 "Bio/Med SciART" 8th Annual International Digital Print Exhibition, September 30, 2006 - January 15, 2007, New York Hall of Science. Link to Exhibition Page

© 2001 - Rob O'Neill
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