Juror Statement & Bio
The most engaging aspect of the works selected was their democratic variety, for I tried to respond as imaginatively and boldly as the competitions' participants had, and then to look beyond the merely illustrative to identify work that met various non-narrative criteria -- some anchored in traditional understandings of aesthetics and others in an openness to digital-only imagery. Without being unduly taxonomic, there were three broad visual styles: patterns, abstract imagery, and constructed images. Without doubt, specific images in each will help shape viewers' understandings of the content of scientific concepts and phenomenon -- as if without visualization the ideas and models cannot fully exist intellectually. Some images function to concretize a fugitive experience that has no corollary except in poetry or music. Others provide sheer visual pleasure, resonating with a sense of sharing a digitally-discovered, electronically-revealed secret.
I speculate that eventually digital devices may lead to a new way of seeing, let alone image-making, just as they have already enabled us to see humanly unviewable subjects; but for now digital imaging seems to be a new tool for artists/scientists -- seers, truly -- to show us what they already know. In this sense we continue to benefit from their ability to see for us, and from their elemental need to give that gift.
Julia Van Haaften
Julia Van Haaften is currently the Assistant Director
of the Digital Library Program at the New York Public Library (was curator
of Photography at NYPL for twenty years before taking her present position).