Interview with a Physicist

How useful do you find art images in both your work and in a teaching capacity?

Extremely useful. I think I’m probably going to be talking more about what I would call graphic design than necessarily art but that’s only to say, I guess, the only difference is functionality. Although obviously in a scientific context, images need to be very functional because they need to explain something. Thus, I really believe that a picture speaks a thousand words. I use this all the time in my teaching, for example when I am trying to explain something complicated. I always try to use images, such as diagrams, because it helps me structure my thoughts around an idea – I think that’s true of many people as well. This can be represented by my thoughts on the absence of any visual representation of teaching maths in school. It is surprising as maths, in particular, has possibly one of the longest discovered histories that dates back to the Ancient Greeks. They didn’t have any algebra, they didn’t have a consistent system of writing numbers, they just did everything with images and geometry. So, first of all, it is a very important heritage and second of all it works. So I would say images are extremely important to art and science and particularly in the communication of art and science.

Do you find that this affects your view on art generally? If so why?

Due to the training I have had, I’ve been associated with scientific images. If I see any art based on science or if it reminds me of scientific imagery, then obviously, I have a connection to it straight away because of its familiarity. It is also quite cool that you can use maths and science to produce imagery and it is nice to see what that means. In a sense the natural world is the best example of art produced by science because science is supposed to be the building blocks of everything. The foundation of all existence and the way the universe works is then manifested in everything we see around us, so I don’t know… A beautiful view of the mountains is art produced by science. So I think you can’t divorce the two, can’t separate them. They are very important to each other I think.

Do you feel like your work challenges medical art in some way?

No, because I am a physicist and so have nothing to do with medicine

Do you feel like the medical imagery out there has finished progressing/ growing?

Absolutely not because medical challenges are constantly changing. I think in terms of public health, information and education there are things that we will need to express and I think images are a very good way of doing that. To give one example, I guess you might have little leaflets explaining what someone should do in the case of x medical emergency or whatever and that’s something in which a clear picture is much more useful than a highly detailed text. I don’t think anything in design really finishes and that there’s always better, clearer, more beautiful ways to express certain concepts. Subsequently, if the concepts themselves are always evolving, which they are in medicine, then it gets even more complicated. I definitely think that there’s an eternal future ahead for it.

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