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The University of Southampton
Critical Practices Research GroupNews and Events

MAKING VISIBLE Monday 10 December, WSA Lecture Theatre A, 2 – 4pm

Published: 10 December 2018
making visible

This mini-symposium will bring together four speakers from across the University of Southampton who all rely on images and practices of ‘making visible’ to carry out their research. Images may be used to formulate knowledge or to illustrate theories – how do these visual practices differ from those used by artists and designers? How does the materiality of the image reflect the science it aims to convey? How is scientific ‘truth’ different to visual ‘truth’? What tools are used to produce images in other fields and how does post- production play a role in ‘making visible’? The talks will introduce key ideas surrounding issues of visualisation, objectivity and truth and how imaging technologies are being used to reveal invisible worlds the human eye cannot witness unaided. For more information contact

2pm – Dr Sadie Jones, Outreach Leader in Physics and Astronomy

2.25pm – Pearl John, Public Engagement Leader in Physics and Astronomy (Artist working with Holography)

2.50pm – Dr Paul Reilly, Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Archaeological Computing Research Group

3.15pm – Anton Page, Clinical Scientist and Director of the Biomedical Imaging Unit

3.40pm – discussion


Dr Sadie Jones

#SotonAstroArt project – we gave away the whole universe to artists

The #SotonAstroArt project engages the general public and artists with research techniques which astronomers used back in the 1980’s with clear links to how astrophysics research is done today! The project came about by accident as the University of Southampton (UoS) Astronomy department had over 4,000 POSS/SRC photographic plates that mapped the whole of the celestial night sky that were about to be destroyed. These beautiful relics of astronomy could have been lost forever. However, we managed to save them and instead ‘gave away the whole Universe to artists’.

Sadie Jones did an MPhys in Astrophysics at Cardiff University, while doing her undergraduate studies she also worked at the local science discovery centre, Techniquest as an explainer and planetarium presenter. Sadie currently works full time at the University of Southampton, which was where she did her PhD in the Radio and X-ray emission from Supermassive Black Holes. She completed her PhD in 2012 and has since been employed as the Outreach Leader in Astronomy. This job involves managing astronomy outreach and public engagement activities from the Physics and Astronomy department, Sadie is the lead on the #SotonAstroArt project which is a project to engage the public, including artists, with Dark Energy research.


Pearl John

Holographic Space

John’s talk will describe how her work imposes a structure to holographic space, illustrating a chronological narrative and creating a four-dimensional family album. An invisible holographic space will be made visible to the audience.

Pearl John graduated from the Royal College of Art in holography in 1992 and is currently completing a part-time Ph.D. using holography, at De Montfort University, Leicester. John works full-time in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Southampton as the Public Engagement Leader, promoting the study of Physics and Photonics (the science of light), to schools and colleges, and the research of the department to different audiences. John has a small holography studio in the department where she does her research and she exhibits internationally; most recently at the Aveiro City Museum, Portugal in October 2018.


Dr Paul Reilly

When Artistic and Archaeological Drawing Practice Meet Halfway: generative close encounters

‘Archaeological records’ may be layers of material, artefact collections, and documents that translate these deposits and artefacts into, nowadays, digital records. However, the excavators, their tools and the encapsulating deposits, which together create an archaeological ’contact zone’, are largely missing, anonymous and unacknowledged in the traditional ‘written accounts’. Now, a plethora of low-cost 'extended drawing' digital devices capable of recording different modes of on-site intra-actions enable alternative field records. For both field archaeologist and fine artist, the process of knowledge and learning develops through acts of doing - trowelling or drawing. Both practices intra-act through direct and repeated rhythmical contact and interconnection between practitioner, tools and deposits, and so dialogues develop. Gestures, tools, and deposit cyclically flow. Ultimately, such re-codings or translations generated through touch, mark and action intra-actively produce our findings. During these close encounters all actants leave visible, acoustic, haptic or olfactory traces or marks on one another (Drawings of a kind). Now detectable and susceptible to analysis using standard digital video recording devices and computational imaging, these traces and marks can be conceived as signatures, each anonymous actant attesting for the other’s presence and their modes of intra-action. Now, through experiential, shared and discrete dialogues involving the hands of collaborating field archaeologist and fine artist, new and expansive forms of digital recording can produce a new aesthetic of auto archived paradata and extended drawing practice, co-signed by excavator, tool and deposit, to disrupt the hegemony of the traditional written account.

Paul Reilly is currently Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Archaeological Computing Research Group at the University of Southampton, where he focuses on two main areas of research: ontological transformations of archaeology in the digital, especially due to the developing alignments between virtual and physical words; and exploring the significance of craft skills in field archaeology, which involves extensive cross-disciplinary collaboration with fine artists. Reilly was a pioneer of data visualisation and virtual heritage.


Anton Page

Biomedical Imaging Unit

Anton will introduce the different types of microscope we have available and what they can do, copiously illustrated with images which we hope you will find both striking and beautiful.

Anton Page is a lecturer, Clinical Scientist and Director of the Biomedical Imaging Unit (BIU), a joint University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS)/University of Southampton (UoS) facility for high-quality/high-resolution diagnostic and research microscopy. It is one of the leading biological imaging units in the country with extensive facilities for light, electron and X-ray microscopy in 2- 3- and 4-dimensions. Staff of the BIU undertake a range of outreach activities and

we actively encourage student and professional artists to make use of our facilities as sources of images and inspiration.

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