Round Table Discussion: Graphic Diaries and Scientific Knowledge
With the principal goal of Natural Science publications being the dissemination of research and its consequent findings, scientific illustration is often used in order tofacilitate the description of the animals, plants, and/or in certain cases, the techniques used. Through the correct use of technique, the illustrator can capture the characteristics of the living subject, and transport them to a pictorial work that is capable of transmitting the necessary knowledge.
The use of image in science, in the form of scientific illustration, has its origins five centuries ago, with the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Durer, amongst others. Since then, many are the scientists whose discoveries are described in the form of drawings. But the use of drawings and image by scientists is not solely limited to scientific illustration. Scientists and naturalists have always taken small notebooks with them on field trips, in which they register their observations in the form of drawings.
It is more and more common to see the use of these registers, known to scientists as field books (Graphic diaries amongst artists). Today, many carry out trips organized to include long periods of observation, solely to draw, spending hours carefully observing the chosen species, and registering all on paper.
So what are field books for any way? Are they any different from the artists’ graphic diaries?
Are they simply a form of meticulous, daily register of the observations made on that particular day, the capture of a moment that we don’t want to loose? An inconsequential act, which registers the events of the day, the relationship with others, and with the surrounding environment?
Could these drawings have a different meaning to scientists? Could drawing be a investigative tool that, when used correctly, can help the cognitive process of comprehension of scientific phenomena? Can the lines drawn by a scientist on a piece of paper, have a different interpretation of reality to those drawn by an artist? Da Vinci tried to understand the flight of a bird through drawing. Does this make him a scientist or an artist?
This question does not seem to worry the scientists who resort to artistic techniques in order to make their drawings in their field books. Both scientists and artists take advantage of the joy available to them from having a blank piece of paper and being able to register there on, everything they observe.
What is most important is not the final result, the drawing, but what is being observed and registered; the moment it is drawn. The act of drawing ceases to be important for its final product, the drawing itself, but for the knowledge gained about our surroundings. As defended by Paul Valéry “there is an enormous difference between seeing something without having a pencil in our hand, and seeing it whilst drawing it…we perceive what we were ignoring and had never before truly seen. Up until then, our eyes had only been intermediaries.” …But we can only understand this once we have drawn. (Ana Teresa Bígio)
Pedro Salgado (Lisbon, 1960) is a marine biologist (Univ. Lisbon, 1984) and a scientific illustrator (Univ. California, Santa Cruz, 1989 – Fulbright fellow). His pen-and-ink fish illustrations were awarded in 1990, 92, 94, 95, 96 and 2000 in the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators International Conferences and the World Congress of Biomedical Communications and National Geographic Magazine, USA in 2003. He was the author of the illustrations and text for the EXPO'98 wall calendars (95 and 96), the commemorative stamps for the International Year of the Oceans (1997-98). Since 1998, he illustrated and designed many other series of stamps on Nature subjects for Portugal, Angola and Guine. Since 1995 he has been illustrating fish for the Lisbon Oceanarium. During the past 20 years he taught over one hundred scientific illustration workshops, courses and talks at several universities, museums and other institutions of Portugal, Spain, Mozambique and USA. In 2000 he served as Chairman and General Coordinator of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators International Conference, Portugal. He is currently a Lecturer at the University of Fine Arts, Lisbon (Drawing Master's degree, FBAUL), and at the School of Arts, Oporto (Illustration Master’s degree, ESAP). He is also the Director of the Science Illustration program at the I.A.O., Univ. Autonoma de Lisboa. He works as a freelancer.
Born 1974, Lisbon, Portugal. Scientific Illustrator, working mostly in Cultural Heritage Area, with some practice in Biomedical and Educational Illustration. Her artwork is pristine, with great attention to detail, and scientific accuracy. Aiming to convey complex concepts through clarifying images, she produces images to the scientific community, but also to the general audience. She has produced work for archaeological reports, museum display, brochures, teacher’s resource packs, and museum merchandize. In 2001 she graduated in Fine Art at the University of Lisbon, and specialized in Scientific Illustration through workshops (in Portugal), professional internships (Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada), and by attending numerous Conferences (Guild of National Scientific Illustrators, Association of Archaeological Illustrators and Surveyors). Her first commission in Archaeological Illustration was the reconstruction of the Paleolithic Child Burial of Lagar Velho, Leiria, Portugal (regarding the polemic findings of a possible hybrid of Neanderthal and Hommo Sapiens Sapiens). This was followed by several collaborations with different Archaeological Teams, where she produced drawing artifacts, field drawing and reconstruction. She has worked mostly in Prehistoric Settlements in Portugal (Castro do Zambujal, Torres Vedras; Alapraia e S.Pedro do Estoril; Castelo Velho de Freixo de Numão; Barca do Xerez, Alqueva; Abrigo do Lagar Velho, Leiria; Vale Frade, Lourinhã) for different institutions like Portuguese Archaeological Institut, German Archaeological Institute, Portuguese Nautical Archaeological Institute, and private Archaeological Companies. In 2005 she was the first student to graduate (with distinction) in the newly created Master in Archaeological Illustration, at Swindon College of Art and Design, University of Bath, UK. While in England she gained skills to produce accurate reconstructions and scientific contents that visually communicated with the general public. Back to Portugal, she works now as self-employed in Scientific Illustration and Archaeological Reconstruction, teaching and giving small talks on her domain of work.
Graduated in Geology in 2003 at Faculdade de Ciencias da Universidade de Lisboa. In 2006 he earned a Fundacao Gulbenkian/FLAD grant to study at the United States, completing a post-graduation in Science Illustration at the University of California, Santa Cruz Extension. In 2007/2008 he became a post-graduate student at Cornell University, specializing in Ornitological Illustration at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where he produced a number of illustrations. Pedro Fernandes currently lives in Lisbon where he works as an illustrator.
Olga Pombo – researcher, lecturer
Olga Pombo holds a BA in Philosophy from the Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa (1971), a Masters in Modern Philosophy by the Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa with the thesisLeibniz and the Problem with a Universal Language, and a PhD in Philosophy of Education by the Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, with the dissertation: "Unity of Science and Disciplinary Configuration of Knowledge". She has been the scientific coordinator of the projects From Encyclopaedia to Hypertext (FCT- Sapiens, 1999-2002) and Scientific Culture, Conceptual Migrations and Social Contaminations (FCT - Sapiens, 2002-2005). Olga Pombo is the Coordinator of the Autonomous Section of History and Philosophy of Sciences at the Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa since 2007, Scientific Coordinator of the Centre of Philosophy of Sciences at the Universidade de Lisboa since 2002, member of several international and national projects, and coordinator of the FCT project A Imagem na Ciência e na Arte.
Ana Teresa Bígio
Ana Bígio gaduated in Marine Biology at the “Universidade de Lisboa – Faculdade de Ciências”, Lisbon, Portugal, 2004. She holds a Post Graduate Degree in Design and Visual Culture (Scientific Illustration) from IADE, Masters Degree with a Thesis on “Scientific Illustration” (2007). She took several courses on Scientific Illustration lectured by Professor Pedro Salgado and recently took a Course on Biological Illustration at Shoals Marine Laboratory, Cornell University, US, lectured by the Professor Bill Orber. Ana Bígio has participated in several conferences and, more recently, at the CNRS conference, at the Cognitive Foundations of Scientific Images. She is a Drawing Tutor at the “Escola Superior de Design - IADE – Instituto de Artes Visuais, Design e Marketing”, Lisbon, Portugal and affiliated as a researcher for ‘Images in Science and Art’, a project financed by FCT. She also works as a scientific illustrator freelancer.