Saturday, 9 March 2013

PhD week 53: Auckland, second journey

Rangitoto Island from St Helier's Beach
Photo courtesy of Sandy Austin via Flickr. Licence: CC: BY-NC-ND.

I was in Auckland over the past week, looking at specimens held by NZAC. I was also able to visit Guillermo Kuschel and Beverley Holloway, who are both internationally respected weevil taxonomists, who have been retired for some time. I greatly enjoy their company, and learn a lot with each visit.

This time I showed them some of my illustrations made using Inkscape. I found their reaction very interesting. They did have a few concerns about the accuracy of the drawings, particularly with regard to the representation of fine detail. However, their main concern was that the process, which I think they perceived to be largely mechanical and automatic, did not respect the organisms involved. They felt that the slight imperfections in the lines of inked drawings expressed a humanity that the vector graphics lacked, and that the simplicity of the illustration process showed a certain callousness.

While the previous paragraph makes them sound overly negative. In our conversation, Beverley and Guillermo also spoke of the sense of discovery that they experienced as they sketched structures directly from the microscope, and the feelings of excitement as they observed aspects of insect morphology that had been rarely encountered. It was very cool to see their passion that extended beyond being an occupation to having emotional regard for their study subjects.

Will I change the way that I operate? Unlikely. The benefits of using tools like Inkscape are too great. However, it will make me think further regarding the philosophical implications of my methods of choice.

   Pine-Coffin RS (translator). 1961. The confessions of Saint Augustine Middlesex: Penguin
   Hughes P (Translator). 1937. Meditations for Lent from St. Thomas Aquinas. London: Sheed and Ward
   Howe JT. 2012. Affirmations after God: Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Dawkins on Atheism. Zygon. 47(1) 140–155

Nikon Travelite V Binoculars
Canadensys—Why we should publish our data under Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

Star Trek: Enterprise Season Three

Twelve weeks of Star Trek:
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

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