The sexiest calendar for 2012
Imagery is a powerful way to educate potential donors and express complex concepts in accessible ways. The imagery we choose to create and employ often has the consequence of creating static visual analogies of sometimes dynamic processes. It creates a specific representation of a particular concept and also creates its own meaning for that concept at the same time. Such imagery can objectify or allow us to identify. Understanding the power of images both in the process of their creation and in what they can convey is an important, yet sometimes overlooked aspect of outreach work.
I was inspired to begin this meditation on imagery in donor outreach and education due to the release of a calendar by Nature Reviews Immunology. Their 2012 Calendar celebrates the journal’s 10 year anniversary. Nature Publishing Group is also responsible for Bone Marrow Transplantation, and a whole other host of journals, which, while often emphasizing quite technical content, occasionally have some texts of interest to an outreach worker/researcher. At any rate, the calendar’s description states:
This Calendar illustrates a number of immunology topics, using adapted figures that have featured in the journal over the past decade. In addition, the Calendar includes a further reading list for each topic and an events list, which highlights some of the key immunology meetings that are scheduled for 2012.
For anyone interested in transplantation, immunology is a field that cannot be ignored. Typing donors, the success of grafts and the future possibilities for transplantation all incorporate immunological knowledge. Understanding how crucial immunology is in transplantation, I have sought to further understand it in my own research. One fieldwork experience involved a visit to an immunology lab where I observed the research practices of a PhD student. One of the most interesting practices I noticed was how they would sketch(in a plain old binder paper notebook) the morphology of what they observed in the microscope as one way of recording their findings.
Recalling this research observation, it made me think of the enduring relationship between the medico-scientific and illustrative faculties. From your freshman year high school biology class all the way up to a world class research facility, the usage of sketching to capture scientific findings persists. And the emphasis on immunological figures in this calendar is a perfect demonstration of how science is rendered visible.
We’ve already briefly featured an excerpt from an article about body mapping, which also is an interesting example of how the actual process of illustration of the body or personal experiences of illness and medical process have an effect on the authors themselves.
Not to mention, for those interested in new reproductive technologies, biomedical imaging has played a huge role in prenatal care.
And the images are often quite beautiful and fascinating in their own right. These kinds of depictions are providing inspiration for artists, and have received the spotlight in museums. In the calendar at hand, I must say, Mr. August, a.k.a. “Plaque Rupture in Atherosclerosis” is mesmerizing. There’s a volcano-like, explosive plume, one that brings forth an immediate relation to a nuclear mushroom cloud. It’s incredibly evocative.
While the articles are credited, I wonder who the artists are, what tools are used to create these figures, as well as the editorial process in creating these figures. If you look at the images in the calendar they also have a striking aesthetic unity, especially in the color palette. Was there research they drew upon to make these artistic/scientific decisions about how to create an effective figure? If so, what was the source for determining visual effectiveness?
There is a slew of research into medical imagery, far too extensive to cover in a single post, but its possible relevance for how we conceive, craft, and distribute visual representations of medical processes and knowledge through outreach and education begs further attention. Here at TransplantInformers, we look forward to bringing you more on this topic.