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Art + Science = A Change of Focus

Plenoptics at Imag(in)ing Science in the Grunwald Gallery: a technology that is changing the way images are created.

Andrew Juggling Science Commerce & Art

Visitors to the exhibition Imag(in)ing Science in the Grunwald Gallery of Art are invited to interact with photographic images shown on three monitors in the gallery by moving the dials in front of them. When a viewer turns the dial, focus shifts from the foreground to the background of the image. This is not a shuffling of pictures. It is a plenoptic image.

Ruth N. Halls Professor of Photography Jeffrey Wolin, one-half of the team behind the plenoptic display,  is also the director of the Center for Integrative Photographic Studies, a place for scholars, artists, and scientists to meet and discuss the issues they have in common. The exhibition at the Grunwald is a  tribute, Wolin asserts, to the spirit of collaboration the center fosters .

Moving In Space

The plenoptic camera used by Wolin and Computer Science Professor Andrew Lumsdaine contains an array of 5,400 micro-lenses.  Lumsdaine said the array resembles a tiny screen-door. It captures a ray of light and can create a print composed of tiny images. Each of these images varies from the ones around it. Some are more in focus from others, and they are at slightly different angles.

The small images can be processed, layered, and arranged to allow for someone to choose what is in focus after the photo is taken. In the same way that the use of sequential photography allows for movement forward and backward through time, plenoptics allows for forward and backward movement through space within a single moment.

Seeing In Stereo

The slight variation in angles between the tiny images allows for the creation of stereoscopic images.

Wolin says, “From the beginnings of photography people wanted three-dimensional images, and so, probably most photographs in the 19th century were viewed stereoscopically.”

Stereoscopic images began to disappear around the beginning of the 20th century as other forms of entertainment gained in popularity. Plenoptics may change this.

Lumsdaine says, “That is the goal, I mean, to really kind of complete the full circle on plenoptic capture.”

Plenoptics In Your Pocket

Wolin and Lumsdaine say they expect to see plenoptics in cellphones as early as two or three years from now, but you can experience a plenoptic interaction right now at Imag(in)ing Science. Whether you want to see the future of photography, or the past, both are on display.

Event Information

Imag (in) ing Science

An exhibition featuring the work of several artist/scientist teams from Indiana University.

Grunwald Gallery of Art, 1201 E. 7th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405

August 30-October 11, 2013, Tuesday-Saturday 12-4; closed Sunday and Monday


Grunwald Gallery of Art

James Gray

James Gray is a Bloomington native. After graduating from Bloomington High School South, he attended Butler University and received his degree in English Literature and Digital Media Production. While in Indianapolis, James worked at WFYI Public Media and with Know No Stranger, which is a collective of artists that create and perform community projects through live performance, video, illustration, and community event planning. He is excited to have the opportunity to continue his public media career in his hometown.

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