Luna Córnea 21/22. Del ångström al infinito

Page 1








Olafur Eliasson. Tu máquina salar, 1997. Vista de instalació n: Marc Foxx, Santa Mónica, Cal. 1997.

Cortesía de la Galería Tanya Bonakdar




)ohn Runk. Tablas de pino y Frank Stenlund, South Stillwater (hoy Bayport), Minnesota, 1912. Rep roducci贸n en diapositiva tomada del libro Photographer's Eye de )ohn Szarkowski (MOMA, 1966). < Emilio Bucio. Frag mento de la misma diapositiva. Microscop铆a de luz polarizada, a 2800 C. de temperatura .












1I'1.f

I '~

,. ",.

~'''"'

..... r.

••• 1:1 • .,.. ••

hu

Intervenciones quirúrgicas de párpados. Litografía en color de fines del siglo XIX. Colección : Graciela Iturbide.

A- ~ 20




Mauricio Alejo . Ver. De la serie : Los cinco sentidos, 2000.

Ă -~ 23



Susan Derges . The Observer and the Observed # 70, 1991.

Ă - ~ 25






.. •."

~

~

David Akiba . De la serie: Burbujas, 1977. Págs. 30-33

David Akiba empezó a tomar fotografías en 1969, año que él señala como el inicio de su compromiso como fotógrafo. Ha realizado documentales e imágenes en diversos formatos . En estas últimas, ha explorado la posibilidad de la manipulación: re-fotografiando su propio material para después utilizar fotocopiadoras y crear distorsiones. Akiba ha trabajado, sobre todo, en impresiones de plata sobre gelatina, en blanco y negro. Sus imágenes de árboles, pasto y moléculas de agua hacen referencia a la pintura, específicamente a los lienzos abstractos de jackson Pollock y a las marcas negras y gestuales de Franz Kline. Los primeros trabajos de Akiba, que son asimismo los que aquí presentamos, pertenecen a la serie de pequeñas imágenes de burbujas en el agua (Bubbles, 1977), "que encapsulan el potencial mágico d e los cambios a escala. Algunas veces, las fotografías se asemejan a un árbol del ineado en el horizonte o a una vista aérea del paisaje, otras sugieren estudios d el cielo nocturno o formaciones planetarias" . 00

Á- ~ 30


'.

Á -~ 31


Á- ~ 32


A- ~ 33





,

J

• •

• 1°

"




[He weeps for you es una obra de 1976.) Parte de algunos descubrimientos que hice sobre las cualidades ópticas de una gota de agua. Surgió de una experiencia muy vulgar y corriente, al caminar una noche bajo la lluvia con las gafas puestas. Las gotas de agua no me dejaban ver. Me quité las gafas para limpiarlas, miré hacia abajo y me dí cuenta de que cada una de ellas contenía una pequeña imagen. El agua es un medio translúcido y tiene propiedades ópticas, defracta la luz como una pequeña lente. Así que comencé a experimentar con pequeñas gotas de agua y empecé a conseguir cada vez una mayor magnificación con las lentes de una cámara de video. Cuando te acercas a la gota puedes ver dentro de ella todo un micromundo. Así que hice una instalación para que la gente pudiera tener esencialmente la misma experiencia y descubrimiento que yo tuve. Bi" Viola. A propósito de He weeps for you, 1976.

Á- ~ 40


Sill Viola. He weeps tor you. Stills de video, 1976.

Ă - ~ 41



Marianna Dellekamp. Lógrimas. De la serie: Líquido corpóreo, 1998.

Á- ~ 43




Marianna Dellekamp . 1 de 10 Ăşlceras. De la serie: El cuerpo mediatizado. 2001 .

Ă - ~ 46


Marianna Dellekamp. J de '0 Ăşlceras. De la serie: El cuerpo mediatizado, 200 1.

Ă -_ 47






Raúl Saldaña lobato y Dr. Juli(an Sánchez Cortázar. Radiografía de una momia egipcia de 1800 a.e. Universidad de Chicago

A- ~ 52






u~

, ~~~7~/ ~;;~~ ~~ .

~

. Arteriograf(a lograda da en 1903

".",,",j,.nt' ..

--

------~

la inyecciór:t de mercurio y realizada por el Dr . Danie.1 Gar-

Ampliación que muestra el llenado de red humeral y las anotaciones del Dr. David García, Director del Hospital Militar de San Luis Potosí. El Dr, García y el Sr. Javier Espinosa llevaron a cabo las primeras inyecciones de yeso calcinado en arterias de manos de cadáveres, en 1897. Este trabajo se presentó a la Sociedad Médica potosi na el 19 de agosto de 1901 .


Venografía de la mano con medio de contraste endovenoso y rayos-x

Radiografía de mano con método tradicional de rayos x.

Arteriografía de la mano con técnica de rayos-x y sustracción digital (técnica que suprime las estructuras). Truco fotográfico, mediante programa de com putación .

Xerox radiografía de mano, obtenida con rayos-x y procesada con la técnica xerox . Toner azul.

Tomog rafía computada de mano. Corte coronal, visualizándose huesos, tendones y músculos.

Reconstrucción en tercera dimensión de resonancia magnética de la mano.

Á- ~ 58

Estudio de gammag rafía de la mano, visualizá ndose tenuemente los huesos del antebrazo, del carpo y algunos del metacarpo.







lĂĄszlĂł Maholy-Nagy. Autorretrato fumando un cigarro, 1924. Fotograma. Autorretrato BerlĂ­n, 1925 . Fotograma.

A- ~ 64


Adam Fuss. De la serie: Mi fantasma. CortesĂ­a : Fraenkel Gallery

Ă - ~ 65



Mat Mabo. De la serie:

MAMA + MAMA.

ร -- 67

Milรกn, 2000.



Mat Mabo. De la serie: MAMA + MAMA. Milรกn, 2000.

ร - ~ 69










Dr. Ricardo Vera G. Catéteres elaborados con material de silicón (silastic, Dow Corning) . Las microfotografías a), b) y c) corresponden a un catéter Tenckoff, en donde se muestran los orificios lateral (a) y distal (b y c), elaborados con desbaste por broca. Las microfotografías d) y e) corresponden a los orificios lateral y distal de un catéter que cumple con normas de ca lidad internacionales. México, febrero de 1988.

Á- ~ 78


Á - ~ 79






Anónimo. Semana Santa, 1926.

Á-- 84


Á -~ 85








El mapa. El estatuto del mapa es paradójico: se esfuerza por alcanzar la exhaustividad y, sin embargo, tiene que escoger. Un mapa es un filtro. ]\;0 toma en cuenta las estaciones, ignora los conflictos que articulan a cualquier sociedad, y tampoco toma en cuenta los mitos o la vida colectiva que une a una población con la base física de sus actividades. Y aunque trate de hacerlo por medio de la cartografía estadística, sigue expresándose por medio de otras abstracciones, porque está mal equipado para lo cualitativo. Sólo es capaz de generalizar. Representar el territorio es comprenderlo. Ahora bien, esta representación no es una copia sino una construcción. Se elabora un mapa, en primer lugar, para conocer, yen segundo, para actuar. El mapa comparte con el territorio el ser un proceso, un producto, un proyecto, y como es también forma y sentido, corremos incluso el riesgo de considerarlo como un sujeto. Convertido en modelo, posee la fascinación de un microcosmos y es una simplificación absolutamente manejable, que suele suplantar a la realidad misma que representa. El mapa es más puro que el territorio, porque obedece al príncipe. Acepta cualquier idea, concretándola por anticipado y pareciendo demostrar su buena fundamentación. Esta especie de ilusión óptica no sólo hace que se pueda visualizar el territorio real al que el mapa hace referencia, sino que incluso puede hacer que aparezca como real algo que no existe. El mapa puede representar un territorio inexistente con la misma seriedad que uno real, lo que nos indica claramente que no podemos confiar en él. El mapa corre el peligro de disimular lo que pretende exhibir: ¿cuántos gobiernos, preocupados por la eficacia, creen dirigir a un país, y no gobiernan más que el mapa? André Corbol. El territorio como palimpsesto. Trad. Blanca LUl Pulido. Diógenes. Núm. 121, primavera 1983.

El mapamundi. Contemplar el mapamundi es como mirar al fondo de uno mismo, el esquema de la historia del hombre. Es ver el esqueleto de la tierra. Lo que se advierte es inefable, sin significado para el pensamiento y la sensibilidad, hondo y lejano hasta la sangre. La comprensión intuitiva de nuestra tierra en el mapa, desliga la mente del contexto de razón que nos vincula al mundo en nuestra condición de seres de espíritu. Esa desencarnación produce el espanto de la soledad, nunca sentida en el aislamiento voluntario ni en las representaciones imaginativas. Quien no experimenta esa impresión orgánica y cósmica de la fatalidad examinando el globo terráqueo como astro, dentro de él sus masas sólidas como el soporte de una raza olímpica, y más adentro la vida como un fenómeno momentáneo en la existencia de un astro, no puede entender el verdadero sino del mundo y del hombre. Ni puede explicarse cómo actúan las fuerzas biológicas para determinar las regiones en que la vida sobresaldrá o quedará estancada para siempre. Se acentúa esa glacial impresión que penetra por el ojo, como órgano de sentir el espacio, al pasar del hemisferio boreal al austral. Viajar es algo así como estar en el mismo sitio que el cuerpo ocupa; pero tener en la mano la esfera es mirarla con los ojos de Dios. Ezequiel Martínez Estrada. Radiografía de la pampa. Edición crítica de Leo Pollmann, España, Archivos, 1991 .




















Ahí adentro, escondida, casi invisible en la generosa grandilocuencia de la imagen, por atrás de las metáforas, los mensajes, las ico nografías y los co nceptos se encuentra la protagonista de las artes gráficas: la tinta. Este trabajo se basa en la exaltación de ese elemento fundacional, expresión primaria e indispensable del grabado y otras técnicas gráficas. El rescate de la esencia del medio a través de la producción de impresiones digitales es también una reflexión sobre lo indispensable y lo accesorio, sobre el espíritu primordial de las cosas. Intento mostrar esa imagen que habla desde el interior de las imágenes: la obra que se constituye a partir de otra que si bien existe, no se ve. Propongo la experiencia de re-ver las cosas, atravesa ndo los elementos del lenguaje, más allá de la temporalidad de la primera observación . Las impresiones resultantes - huellas cautivantes en colores, transparencias, brillos y opacidadesrevelan la intimidad del proceso e invitan a mirar más profundamente. La ampliación a gran escala de fragmentos de impresos pertenecientes a la cartelería de vía pública genera imágenes imprevistas e incluso desconcertantes. El cambio de escala no sólo altera las dimensiones sino también los significados. El espacio entre el impreso del que se parte y la impresión final se "amplía" : es en ese terreno donde se encuentra el eje de este trabajo. 00

Hugo Cava. Recorte 4, Lips, El Perrito y Noche, 2000 . Imágenes digita les

Á- ~ 111


Vistas aéreas de Todos Santos, península de Baja California. Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática . Medidas de los originales impresos 22.7 x 22.7 cm., a una escala 1 :75,000. Línea 64, números 2, 3 Y 4. 3 de mayo de 1993.




Mauricio Ortiz. Vista desde una avioneta y desde la carretera de la esfera que se帽ala la latitud del Tr贸pico de C谩ncer,

cerca de la Antigua Misi贸n de Santiago, Baja California Sur. Junio de 1995.




Vistas aéreas de Cabo Pulmo, Baja California Sur. Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática. Medidas de los orig ina les impresos 22.7 x 22.7 cm. , a un a esca la 1: 75 000. Línea 72, núm eros 2, 3 Y 4. Marzo de 1993 .




Mauriclo Ortiz. Piedra de la playa de Cabo Pulmo, Baja California Sur. Medida de la original 21 mm .





Gill. Fotografía del Gran Cometa de 1882, tomada el 13 de noviembre del mismo año en el Observatorio Cape.

© Royal Astronomical Society Library.

Á- ~ 125

























I.A. Whipple. Uno de los primeros daguerrotipos de la luna, tomado el 26 de febrero de 1852, en el Harvard College Observatory, Cambridge, Massachusetts . Reproducci贸n: Robert Zinck y Stephen Sylvester. Cortes铆a del Harvard College Observatory



Luis Segura. Imagen de las ráfagas corona les durante el eclipse total de Sol. Yerbanís, Durango, 10 de septiembre de 1923. Fondo Joaquín Gallo, CESU-UNAM.


Harlow Shapley. Las diapositivas que se muestran en estas páginas fueron propiedad del astrónomo estadounidense Harlow Shapley, quien al parecer las utilizaba como material didáctico en sus cursos y conferencias. El doctor Shapley, quien fuera director del Harvard College Observatory en los años cuarenta del siglo pasado, cooperó de manera muy cercana en la construcción del Observatorio Astrofísico Nacional de Tonantzintla, Puebla, fundado por iniciativa de Luis Enrique Erro e inaugurado a principios de 1942. Distinguido invitado a la inauguración del que entonces se consideraba el más avanzado observatorio mexicano, Shapley fue también parte del grupo de destacados científicos que en ese año participaron en la Conferencia Científica Interamericana. Bajo su asesoría e influencia se realizó la construcción de la base y el tubo de la cámara Schmidt, el primer telescopio de importancia que hubo en Tonanzintla; trabajos que él mismo determinó se hicieran en los talleres

Á- ~ 152


del Harvard College Observatory, bajo la supervisión del Dr. G.Z. Dimitroff. Asimismo, sus recomendaciones y las de Bart Bok fueron consideradas por Enrique Erro y Alberto Escalante en la elaboración del programa de trabajo del nuevo observatorio. El plan de investigación incluyó tanto el estudio de variables sureñas (el propósito original de Erro) así como de la Vía Láctea, principal interés del observatorio que dirigía Shapley. Donadas por su dueño a la institución que devendría Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE), estas diapositivas con resplandores de hace más de medio siglo se encuentran etiquetadas bajo el rubro de "linterna mágica".

Á- ~ 153



UNIVERSOS Claudia Fernรกndez

De la serie: Universos. 1998-2001 .


A- ~ 156


Á- ~ 157


A- ~ 158








Imagen espectral de "Las PlĂŠyades".


Nebulosa de formaci贸n estelar en Aquila .


Nebulosa planetaria.


Nebulosa " El Cono" en Serpens.


Galaxia espiral barrada.


Nebulosa "Cabeza de Caballo" en Ori贸n .


Nebulosa trĂ­fida en Santiago.


Galaxia con banda oscura central.


Nebulosa " La Laguna" en Sagitario.


Nebulosa planetaria " Dumm-Bell " en Vulpรกcula .


Galaxia " El Remolino" en Canes Venatia.


Cometa " Ikeya Seki" .


Nebulosa de Ori贸n.


Galaxia espiral.


Galaxia espira l en Osa Mayor.




'. \.

"

"

.'

.

' .~

Horo 1-14 ' , ..

,0 .. 0:. '''w.- •

o ' , ' o.

',

. • .'.'' "

... .

•.

~J.:I.:"

~.

.

~.i..:. - ' Ptlt'o" • '"

•. :. _'o::~~ .' '{:.. ~ I ' '" ' .":. • •• •• ,..." • •~ ....... ...

. .::. ':

..

4Il"

~

'.. :.'

·:·. :·~í. ':~' '\~ .~~ ~ ~ " • • • '° 1 .~ . .... -.. '" : .. ' J .~ •" .. ~ • . . " .',' ~ ' .; ' o ', " .. ", ':'" ', .... \.-,

'.

• . ....... . ..... :.: .. . . ::;i ~ :<'/{'.:; >r;·;~ ." . ... ..c. ... ... ':o. -~•

.<. ...

J .,' , ". '. '. a.. ,' ''~''.'_.;.,.,' :

•'o • . ' " °

0 '

...

.

• •. . , ' .

... .

"

....

~

,

..

'

'

:.

r·'"•••. .•

, 0 ... - " ' " , '

,1 .. ~:.J ·I ·-" ... ··..."·1·· .,:tI ¡, .:. .. .....4\• ¡

LkHiI 345

Horo 1-16

Objetos Herbig-Haro. Instituto de Astrofísica, Óptica

y Electrónica.

Objetos Herbig-Haro. Al comienzo de los años 50, los astrónomos George Herbig y Guillermo Haro catalogaron, cada uno por su lado, un gran número de manchas enigmáticas cercanas a la nebulosa de Orión . Hoy día, estos objetos llevan su nombre y se reco nocen co n las sig las HH . Dichos objetos son manchas de gases expulsados en la formación de las estrellas. Poseen características espectrales que los diferencian de las regiones foto ionizadas. La forma de reconocer estos cuerpos es m ediante imágenes CCD y filtros de corrección ligeramente virados en azulo rojo . Si el objeto observado aparece fuertemente reconocible a través de los filtros, se trata de un Herbig Haro, de lo contrario pu ede tratarse de nubes moleculares que se producen por la actividad de las estrellas en formación . Otra técnica, introducida por el astrónomo Josef Solf, es colocar una larga hendidura sobre una estrella joven, en diversos ángulos de posición. De este modo se logra observar, aun cuando algunos pequeños HH que fluyeran no pudieran ser vistos fácilmente, debido a que el brillo de la estrella puede, en ocasiones, ser tan grande y luminoso que los inunde con su luz. A- ~ 182



La superficie roja . La noche del14 de julio de 1965, luego de siete y medio meses de viaje, y de haber cubierto un elíptico recorrido de 520 millones de kilómetros en el espacio sideral, el explorador planetario estadounidense Mariner IV pasó a una corta distancia de Marte y pudo obtener las primeras fotografías cercanas de su misteriosa superficie . Con el éxito de esta misión, escribiría poco después el periodista William E. Howard, "el hombre tuvo la primera oportunidad de examinar fotográficamente otro planeta del sistema solar" . Provista de una pequeña cámara de televisión, conectada a su vez a un telescopio óptico de 30 centímetros, así como de una grabadora magnética en la que se almacenarían sus registros, la nave Mariner IV consiguió producir 21 imágenes en un lapso de 25 minutos, mismas que luego remitió, para su decodificación e interpretación, al Laboratorio de Propulsión a Chorro que se ubicaba en Pasad en a, California . La primera imagen se tomó a una distancia de 16 800 kilómetros y la última a 10 080. Durante 12 minutos viajó, a la velocidad de la luz, la señal de mando que le ordenó al explorador poner en funcionamiento el obturador y enfocar su lente hacia Marte. Diez horas requirió cada imagen para su envío a la Tierra, distante a 240 millones de ki lómetros, mediante un transmisor de apenas 10 vatios de energía. Cada fotografía constaba de 240 000 puntos y el radio sólo tenía capacidad para transmitir 8.3 puntos por segundo. Las señales fueron recibidas en antenas de disco ubicadas en Woomera, Australia; Johannesburgo, África del Sur; en un sitio cercano a Madrid, España; y en el desierto Mojave de Estados Unidos. Al laboratorio de Pasad en a llegaron en la forma de series de números en clave: 63 combinaciones mediante las que se representaban los distintos tonos de grises. La foto 1 retrató el borde del planeta contra el negro abismo del espacio. La foto 2 se asomó a una extensión desértica de la zona llamada Amazonis. Las fotos 3, 4, 5 Y 6 mostraron algunos detalles imprecisos, formas que se asemejaban a crá teres, a causa de la mala iluminación provocada por el hecho de que el Sol estaba en el cenit. La foto 7 se tomó en una zona conocida como Mare Sirenum . La foto 8 permitió confirmar el aspecto lunar del paisaje marciano. La foto 11, difund ida como "una de las fotografías científicas más notables de la época" por el gobierno de Lyndon B. Johnson, descubrió la existencia de un cráter g igantesco de 110 kilómetros de diámetro, mas no pudo probar la de los "ca nales" que el astrónomo Giovanni Schiaparelli observó por primera vez en 1877. La foto 14, tomada en el hemisferio sur del planeta, mostró indicios de lo que parecía ser escarcha, pero que también podía ser un efecto de luz. Las fotos 16 a la 21 no sirvieron por insuficiencia lumínica . Los ojos del Mariner IV no encontraron señales de una vida que se pareciera a la nuestra en el lugar que la radio, el cine, las pulp fictions y la guerra fría habían declarado fuente principal de nuestros terrores extraterrestres. 00 Fotos 1 Y 15, de las 21 que tomó el explorador espacia l Mariner IV, el 14 de ju lio de 1965.


Cadena de Tarsis e n la superficie de Marte. Imรกgenes tomadas por las so ndas Viking, 1976.















LA LACANDONIA SCHISMATICA Ma . Elena Álvarez-Buylla

Es blanca, casi transparente, tiene forma de estrella y aunque parece un hongo es una flor. Mide menos de dos centímetros y vive escondida entre la hojarasca. Es en la espesura de la selva Lacandona, y sólo allí, donde esta planta tiene su morada.

Barbara Ambrose y Francisco Vergara. Inflorescencia de Lacandania schismatica. Microscopía e lectrónica de barrido, 2000. 15.7x. UNAM

< Francisco Vergara y David Gernandt. Lacandonia schismatica sobre un tronco muerto . Selva Lacandona, cerca de Cruce Coroza l, Chiapas, 1999. UNAM


Única entre las flores, la lacandonia schismatica fue descubierta hace más de lS años por Esteban Martínez y Clara Ramos. Con su hallazgo, estos biólogos mexicanos llamaron la atención de los botánicos de todo el mundo. Tímida por naturaleza, la lacandonia no se deja ver fácilmente; es necesario remover las hoias muertas que cubren el suelo de la selva para descubrirla. Vista al microscopio, ella revela su identidad de flor. Posee las partes que tienen las cerca de doscientos cincuenta mil especies que habitan la tierra. En la parte más exterior, están los sépalos -órganos parecidos a hojas pero modificados-, luego están los pétalos -órganos coloridos en rosas y claveles- y los estambres -órganos masculinos con forma de filamentos y sacos de polen en sus puntas. Finalmente, en el centro de las flores, están los carpelos o el gineceo femenino en donde se encuentran los óvulos. Estos son fecundados por el polen y así se forman las semillas que, dispersadas por las aves (y otros animales), por el viento y el agua, germinan para repetir el ciclo vital de las plantas con flores. Pero la 'chismática', como le dicen en la selva Lacandona, en realidad posee una serie

Barbara Ambrose y Francisco Vergara. Lacandonia schismatica. Flor madura, vista lateral. Microscopía electrónica de barrido, 2000. 19.8 x. UNAM



con pétalos en lugar de estambres y carpelos. De hecho, las rosas son mutan tes de este tipo y es por eso que tienen tantos pétalos coloridos. Las silvestres, en cambio, tienen sólo cinco. Estos mutantes se cruzan (como lo hacía el monje Gregario Mendel, a finales del siglo XIX, con sus chícharos para entender las leyes de la herencia) y es así como hoy los investigadores han comenzado a armar el rompecabezas de los genes que regulan el desarrollo de los órganos de la flor cuando ésta se abre. En estos experimentos, no se usan especies raras como la que nos ocupa, que es muy difícil de crecer y estudiar en el laboratorio, sino una pequeña planta de la familia de las mostazas, las coles y las coliflores, cuyo nombre técnico es Arabídopsís thaliana . Actualmente contamos ya con la secuencia completa de todo su genoma. En esta especie modelo se han descubierto los genes que controlan la formación de los órganos de la flor. La expresión combinatoria de estos genes parece ser igual en todas las flores a excepción de la lacandonía . En todas ellas, un par de genes -bautizados como genes de la función "A"_ se expresan en los sépalos y los pétalos. Cuando están solos dan lugar a los sépalos que son los órganos florales más externos. Pero cuando se expresan en el segundo verticilo, en los pétaBarbara Ambrose y Francisco Vergara . Flor post·antesis (después de abrir), vista superior. Microscopía electrónica de barrido, 2000. 47 x. UNAM


los, junto con otros genes conocidos como genes de la función "B", dan lugar a los pétalos. A su vez, los genes "B" se expresan en dos verticilos contíguos, en los pétalos y en los estambres. Para dar lugar a estos últimos se deben expresar al mismo tiempo que un tercer grupo de genes que son los de la función "C". Estos se expresan en los dos verticilos m ás internos de las flores . De tal manera, que los genes "C" solos, expresados en el cuarto verticilo, que es el centro de las flores, determinan la diferenciación del gineceo. Pero ¿cómo y por qué surgió esta peculiaridad en esta flor diminuta? ¿Qué alteraciones tienen los genes ABC para lograr esta extrañísima inversión de los órganos reproductivos? ¿A partir de qué otra especie evolucionó y cuál era su estructura floral? Para abordar estas preguntas utilizamos herramientas de la genética molecular y de la biología evolutiva. Probablemente esta tan particular flor de la selva Lacandona nos revele misterios inesperados acerca de la manera en que los genes florales controlan la forma de los órganos de la flor. Y tal vez también nos enseñe algo nuevo acerca de cómo evolucionan los seres vivos y de cómo se genera su extraordinaria diversidad de formas. Además de única por su forma floral, esta planta es escasa. Crece sólo en las que antes Barbara Ambrose y Francisco Vergara . Lacandonia schismatica. Flor mad ura, vista lateral. Microscopía electrónica de barrido, 2000. 23.8 x. UNAM


fueron las orillas de lagunas y ahora son zonas inundables. Los suelos de estos sitios son ricos en materia órganica y muy húmedos. Este último factor es muy importante, pues la lacandonia depende de los hongos que crecen dentro de sus tallos para conseguir los azúcares que necesita. La chismática carece de clorofila, el pigmento verde que permite a las plantas' fabricar sus propios azúcares a partir del bióxico de carbono. Antes de que sea demasiado tarde, esperamos que la luz de esta rara estrella de los suelos lacandones sea un pequeño faro que atraiga los esfuerzos por conservar la selva chiapaneca, en beneficio de sus pobladores y del mundo. María Elena Álvarez-Buylla Roces Laboratorio de Genética Molecular y Evolución, Instituto de Ecología, UNAM, México .

Ma . Elena Álvarez-Buylla Roces . Arabidopsis thafiana, Grano de polen sobre la superficie interna de un sépalo (el órgano más externo de la fl o r), en donde se aprecian células transformadas en células parecidas a las de una hoja, pues se trata de un mutante de gen apétala 1, que es importante para la diferenciación de los sépalos y pétalos, Microscopio electrónico de barrido. 1999, 300x. UNAM.


Ma. Elena Álvarez Buylla Roces. Arabídopsís tha/íana. Granos de polen adentro de dos anteras abiertas y contiguas . Se aprecian las células alargadas de las paredes de la anteras y en algunos de los granos de polen se ve claramente una hendidura característica de la especie. Microscopio electrónico de barrido, 1999. 680 x. UNAM


ÂĄohn Bowman. Aster occidentalis. Recogida en Sierra Nevada y fotografiada en Caltech, 1991 . 30 x. Arabidopsis thaliana. Fruto de una mutante triple en genes que reg ulan el desarrollo.

MicroscopĂ­a electrĂłnica de barrido, 1999. University of California, Davis. >




Diatomacea . Triceratium f1avum, Brebisson . Aumento 1500 d . Una de las dos imágenes con que el doctor Manuel A. Pasalagua ilustró sus Ensayos de la fotografía en su aplicación a los estudios microscópicos, ponencia recogida por Naturaleza, el boletín de la sociedad de los naturalistas mexicanos en el último tercio del siglo XIX (Tomo 11, correspondiente a los años de 1871 a 1873 e impreso en 1875). Para la realización de estas impresiones, consideradas por el maestro Alejandro Martínez Mena com o las primeras micrografías publicadas en M éxico, Pasa lagua procedió de la siguiente manera: "en un cuarto que tiene una gran ventana apliqué la cámara Maddox, a un microscopio sin ocular, d e Smith and Beck, dándole luz por m edio de un espejo o rdinario colocado hacia afuera del cuarto, y que refl eja los rayos solares sobre el espejo del microscopio, los que a su vez son condesados por el condesador de Dujardin o modificados por el lente parabólico de Wenhan, según conviene a la preparación . Para afocar como antes he dicho, me he servido de un ayudante (Manuel Reyga das). Una vez bien presentada la imagen en el vidrio raspado, lo sustituyo con el chassis en donde está el vidrio preparado que recibirá la impresión . Los demás d eta lles son los ordinarios de fotografía; simplemente observaré, que al baño sensibilizador de nitrato de plata le he unido alguna azúcar para evitar su rápida desecación, y que siempre he fijado con hiposulfito de sosa".

A- ~ 209



partes cubierto de estrellas y lila Luna en la cuadratura y en el corazón del León que demoraba al Ocaso, y más adelante Venus defalcada". Un aire frío y destemplado, como de invierno, se hizo presente minutos antes y hasta minutos después de que transcurriera el eclipse, apuntó Sigüenza en la carta-relación remitida a Madrid. Enfriamiento, según él, en alguna medida relacionado con el otro fenómeno que vino a ensombrecer, luego de las excesivas lluvias, el ánimo de los labradores: la plaga del chiahuiztli -el vocablo mexicano con el que eran designadas esas l/manchas prietas y pequeñísimas como las que dejan las moscas", parecidas a lo que en España llamaban pulgón- que había atacado a los maizales y se había cebado, sobre todo, de las espigas del trigo, a las que había vaciado de sus granos. ¿ Quién duda haberse originado nuestro chiahuiztli -se preguntaba el sabio novohispano- así de las muchas aguas del mes de julio, como de las nubes y neblinas casi continuas y de la calma que siempre se hallaban al eclipsarse el Sol, se siguió el que así, por razones de resfriarse la tierra por esta causa, mucho más sin comparación de lo que ya estaba, como por suceder aquél en el signo de Virgo, donde está la espiga (razón según Messahalac para que se pierdan los trigos), llegase la fatalidad del año a su complemento?" Con un distinto tipo de anteojo al que utilizó para contemplar al sol oscurecido, con la atención puesta no en lo distante sino en lo pequeño, Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora quiso saber de qué estaban hechas esas manchas que abrasaban a los trigales cual si fueran fuego. El microscopio le permitió descubrir que el chiahuiztli era l/un enjambre de animalillos de color musgo, sin más corpulencia que la de una punta de aguja y que sea sutil; tiraba su 1/

Formas de bacilos, ca . 1931. Diapositiva montada en vidrio uitilizada por el biólogo Enrique Beltrán en sus cursos y conferencias. Aumento 1: 1000. Archivo Instituto Mexicano de Recursos Naturales Renovables.



Corpúsculos rojos de sangre, coloreados ópticamente por el Micropolicromar (combinación de colores V-7 + g3). Óptica : acromático 30 a. n. 0.60 de Winkel-Zeiss y ocular complanático 1 7.5 x. Imagen tomada del folleto promocional de la compañía Zeiss-jena, ca . 1934. Archivo Instituto Mexicano de Recursos Naturales Renovables.


el instrumento que se armó, bajo la protección de Melchor de Peramás, secretario del virrey Bucareli, para cumplir con la encomienda oficial que le hicieron, a mediados de la siguiente década, de estudiar la grana o cochinilla, el insecto de los nopales del que se sacaban los tintes para las telas y era por ello muy apreciable mercancía. 3 El resultado de un lustro de investigaciones se publicó en 1777, bajo el nombre de Memoria sobre la naturaleza y cultivo de la grana, versión amplificada de un primer trabajo que había dado a conocer cuatro años antes. Gracias a aquel microscopio "de mucha amplitud [.. .] que abulta mucho los objetos", el también inventor del jabón de aceite de coco pudo conocer la intimidad de aquella especie, cuyos ejemplares hembras eran del tamaño de "un grano de trigo bien logrado" y los machos de la magnitud de una liendre. Mediante el poder de los lentes de aumento y las constantes verificaciones -dado que "entre más se observa más se descubre"- pudo distinguir los seis ojos de que estaban dotados los machos, quienes, a diferencia de otros insectos alados, se convertían de granilla en paloma sin necesidad de ser crisálida. De la hembra observó los pliegues o arrugas que la hacían parecerse a la sanguijuela y al ver su cuerpo cargado de crías, seña de las lascivas inclinaciones de la grana, recurrió a la imagen de "un talego lleno de balas"" Además de la "república insectil" de las cochinillas, el sabio Alzate prestó atención a otros minúsculos y "exquisitos" habitantes de la Nueva España. La mosquilla acuática que los nativos llamaban aguautle, la cual abundaba en las lagunas próximas a la ciudad de México

Ana Isabel Bieler Antolín. Fotomicrografía de un grano de polen. Equipo: microscopio fotónico. Sistema de iluminación: microscopía de contraste de fases. Aumento a nivel de negativo 400 x. UNAM


y de cuyos huevecillos se alimentaban los pájaros zenzontles, le sorprendió por su habilidad para subir y bajar en el agua, siempre viajando en el interior de una burbuja de aire; una técnica que supuso, con razón, podía ser imitada por el hombre. Los comejenes, devastadores de "fardería, alimentos y muebles", sobre los que escribe en sus Gacetas de Literatura de México, le maravillaron por su capacidad para moverse con la disciplina de un ejército, transminar en corto tiempo grandes espacios y levantar "fábricas estupendas" en el tronco de los árboles -galerías del diámetro de un meñique "que los hombres no podrían ejecutar, proporcionadas a su intento, sin el auxilio de muchos instrumentos y reflexiones".s Porque conoció de la belleza y el orden de lo minúsculo, y disfrutó de las lecciones que la naturaleza dicta desde el rincón de las telarañas, fue que José Antonio de Alzate se atrevió a escribir las siguientes líneas, breve elogio de la arquitectura animal: "Los hombres, por lo general encerrados en sus casas, o establecidos con pensamientos dirigidos a dar ensanches para su fortuna, desdeñan aun el mirar un pequeño insecto llegados a un lugar, lo primero o lo único a lo que se dedican es a registrar los edificios públicos, y a pensar arbitrios con que establecer o aumentar los caudales, sin considerar que en el más despreciado viviente se hallan más maravillas en su constitución orgánica, que en el conjunto de todas las obras antiguas o modernas, fabricadas por la dirección de los mortales. El templo del Vaticano, el palacio de Versalles, portentosos efectos de la arquitectura y poder, ¿podrán compararse a la fábrica del despreciado cuerpecillo de una pulga?"6 Ana Isabel Bieler Antol ín. Fotomicrografía de cristales de ácido ascórbico (vitamina C). Equipo: microscopio fotónico. Sistema de iluminación: microscopía de polarización. Aumento a nivel de negativo 40 x, UNAM.



XIX, una solución definitiva. J. J. Arriaga, entrando por fin al tema principal de su ponencia, titulada precisamente "El microscopio y la fotografía aplicados al estudio de las ciencias naturales", habló del horizonte abierto por el llamado microscopio fotográfico: un ensamble en el que se superponían la máquina de aumento y la cámara que convertía a la luz en imagen, cuyas primeras demostraciones, en 1840, se le acreditaban al óptico Vicente Chevalier. Los aparatos de esta clase, ya fuera el diseñado por Nachet o el Megascopio de Chevalier, daban a los científicos un medio más afinado y escrupuloso para el registro de sus observaciones microscópicas. Con ellos podían obtener copias más detalladas que las ofrecidas por las calcas de la cámara clara -aquel sistema de proyección que buscaron perfeccionar Wollaston, Soemmering y Amici-. Sin requerir de la habilidad para el dibujo, confiándole a las reacciones de la química el trazo de las minúsculas sombras y luces que podían evadirse a la mirada, el microscopio fotográfico les daba a los hombres de ciencia la posibilidad de imprimir, a partir de sus muestras, "bellísimas reproducciones amplificadas e indelebles". En esas láminas fotográficas, más baratas en su producción que los grabados y las litografías, se sustentaba la nueva enseñanza de las intimidades del mundo que ya dominaba publicaciones, academias y museos. "Si Swammerdan y Leeuwenhoek con microscopios débiles e imperfectos lograron descubrir un campo vastísimo para hacer en él útiles y curiosas investigaciones, hoy que esos instrumentos tocan a su perfección, que se combinan y se aplican de mil maneras, auxiliados ventajosamente por la fotografía, puede decirse con entera con-

Alejandro Martínez Mena . Tinta pa ra pluma fuente color sepia, cristalizada sobre un porta-objetos y vista con el microscopio de polarización . 40x . UNAM .


fianza, que las ciencias naturales cuentan ya con un poderoso elemento para levantar el velo con que antes ocultaba la naturaleza sus misterios", dijo J. J. Arriaga a punto de terminar su conferencia, la cual remató con un patriótico llamado para que la ciencia mexicana se incorporara al progreso que significaba la microfotografía. La convocatoria formulada por Arriaga no se quedó sin respuesta. Un par de años después el señor Manuel A. Pasalagua, también miembro de la Sociedad Mexicana de Historia Natural, informó a la revista La Naturaleza sobre las dificultades que hubo de vencer para conseguir buenos retratos de una preparación microscópica. s En su reporte se refirió a otros pioneros en el uso de esta técnica -el inglés Dancer y el francés Donné, quienes la utilizaron con el fin de popularizar los estudios histológicos- y a los trabajos que sobre ella habían realizado Dean, Maddox, Faucault y Moitessier. Con un baño de azúcar cristalizada, explicó Pasalagua, había podido retardar la desecación de los cristales preparados con colodión húmedo, los cuales se sometieron a exposiciones largas y se beneficiaron de una iluminación lateral, más opaca que intensa. A la luz producida por el lente parabólico de Wenhan, una luz semejante a la que hace el Sol "cuando se refleja sobre algunas nubes cirrosas", Manuel A. Pasalagua pudo fotografiar, ampliándola a 800 y 1500 diámetros, la sencilla anatomía de una diatomacea, la Triceratium flavum de Brebisson. Todo parece indicar que las imágenes impresas de este cuerpo triangular, estriado y ligeramente convexo fueron el primer trofeo de la microfotografía mexicana. Alejandro Martínez Me na. Corte de antera de amaranto. Al centro se observan los granos de polen. Fotografía obtenida a partir de una preparación teñida, vista con microscopio de campo oscuro, 1991 . 64x. UNAM.


4. Electrónica y microcine l/El microscopio es un instrumento óptico y mecánico que modula energía (fotónica, electrónica, acústica, etc.) para incrementar el ángulo de visión y proporcionar imágenes amplificadas de un objeto. Se usa para obtener información en diversas áreas, especialmente las ciencias biomédicas, la metalurgia, la física, la geología, la petroquímica y la restauración artística.1/9 Con este párrafo inicia la entrada Microscopía de la Enciclopedia de México, en su edición de 1996, publicación que también informa, volúmenes atrás, sobre la vida de José Joaquín Arriaga, de quien se dice fue el autor de la serie La ciencia recreativa, un conjunto de novelas mediante las cuales buscó divulgar el conocimiento científico entre los niños y las clases trabajadoras. El autor de aquella definición es el maestro Alejandro Martínez Mena, sin duda el principal especialista en la historia de la microscopía mexicana, además de protagonista de su última etapa. Tanto en esa entrada como en la introducción a la tesis profesional La microscopía óptica en el estudio de los protozoarios de vida libre, escrita junto con J. A. Arredondo Álvarez en 1978, ha intentado trazar, a grandes rasgos, la evolución de los estudios y prácticas que en nuestro país se han realizado con los aparatos amplificadores; un trayecto que, de acuerdo con otro gran estudioso de estos temas, el doctor Enrique Beltrán, tendría su más antigua referencia en la carta en que Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora describe los enjambres del chiahuiztli. Alejandro Martínez Mena. Fitoplancton obtenido de la Laguna de Términos. Fotografía tomada en microscopía de campo oscuro con filtro amarillo, 1975. 25x. UNAM.



Alejandro MartĂ­nez Mena. FotomicrografĂ­a del ĂĄpice de una fronda de helecho. En la parte central se observan los espora ngios o soros. Imagen obtenida a partir de un microscopio de polarizacion . 15x, UNAM.


geometrismo o el expresionismo abstracto, el maestro Martínez Mena ha sido testigo de la manera en que las disciplinas de la microscopía y la microfotografía transitaron de las observaciones ópticas a las visiones de la realidad virtual. En el capítulo final de un libro que todavía no escribe se sabrá qué fue de la antigua retratística de bichos en los días en que el genoma humano fue descifrado y los periódicos publicaron el rostro risueño del primer turista sideral.

Alejandro Martínez Mena. Tardigrado (phylum tardigrada) fotografía tomada con miscroscopio de campo oscuro con filtro verde. Se observan 11 estructuras de resistencia; éstas son generadas por los tardigrados como una estrategia para superar las condiciones adversas. Los tardigrados generalmente viven en las capas de agua sobre los musgos. 1975. UNAM .


Notas: 1

Ver introducción y bibliografía de La microscopía óptica en el estudio de los protozoarios de vida libre, tesis profesional de

Alejandro Martínez Mena y J. Adrián Arredondo Álvarez. Facultad de Ciencias de la UNAM, 1978. , Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, Alboroto y motín de México del 8 de junio de 7692. Edición anotada por Irving A. Leonard . Museo Nacional de Antropología, Histo ria y Etnografía, México, 1932. 1

José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez, Memorias y ensayos. Edición e introducción de Roberto Moreno de los Arcos. UNAM,

México, 1985 . • Ibid, "Memoria sobre la naturaleza, cultivo y beneficio de la grana" (1 777). Gacetas de Literatura de México, reimpresión

de Manuel Buen Abad, Puebla, 1831. , Ibid, " Hi storia natural del comején (1)". Gaceta del 24 de octubre de 1789. 6

Ibid, Introducción a "Memoria sobre la naturaleza ... "

7

José Joaquín Arriaga, " El microscopio y la fotografía aplicados al estudio de las ciencias naturales". Revista La Naturaleza,

Tomo 1, 1870. • Manuel A. Pasalagua, " Ensayos de la fotografía en su aplicación a los estudios microscópicos". La Naturaleza, Tomo 11, 1875. 9

Enciclopedia de México, Tomo IX . México, 1996.

10

Escuela Nacional de Artes Gráficas, México, 1917.

11

Ciencia N' . 2, México, 1941.

El autor de estos apuntes agradece la ayuda que para su elaboración le brindaron el maestro Alejandro Martínez Mena, el arquitecto Enrique Beltrán, director del Instituto Mexicano de Recursos Naturales Renovables, A. e, y la encargada de su archivo, Alejandra Vázquez.

Alejandro Martínez Mena. Fotografía de una posible larva de braquiopodo vista bajo el microscopio de campo oscuro, 1977. 64x. UNAM.


MICROSCOPÍA

Luis Fe lipe jiménez

Los microscopios son instrumentos que modulan energía y permiten extender la capacidad de observación de los seres humanos. El desarrollo del conocimiento de la estructura y función de la célula sin duda se debe, en buena medida, al desarrollo de los microscopios. Se puede reconocer tres tipos principales de microscopios: 1) los microscopios ópticos, fotónicos o de luz, desarrollados principalmente en el siglo XVII, 2) los microscopios electrónicos que se desarrollaron en la década de los años treinta y 3) los microscopios de barrido por sonda, inventados en los ochenta. Los microscopios ópticos abarcan a los de campo claro, de contraste de fases, de campo oscuro, de contraste diferencial de interferencias (DIC) según Nomarsky, de polarización, de epifluoroscencia y el confocal de barrido por rayo láser. Los microscopios electrónicos pueden ser de barrido (incluyendo los de bajo vacío o presión ambiental) o de transmisión (incluyendo los de pérdida de energía de electrones). Los microscopios de barrido por sonda (scanning pro be microscopes) tienen dos variantes generales: 1) microscopios de tunelamiento (STM) y microscopios de fuerza atómica (AFM). En la microscopía de luz y en la microscopía electrónica, se utilizan luz y lentes de vidrio o un haz de electrones y lentes electromagnéticas, respectivamente, para formar imágenes, de acuerdo con los principios de la óptica geométrica y de la óptica electrónica y de acuerdo con la ecuación de resolución de Abbe: Luis Fe lipe Jimé nez. Imagen por microscopía de luz. Núcleos de las células de la punta de la raíz de haba (vicia faba). En el centro se observan los cromosomas de una célula en la etapa de anafase de la división . UNAM


r=0.61 A./sena(n) en donde r es el valor de la resolución o la distancia mínima que tienen que estar separados dos objetos para ser observados como entidades separadas, A. es la longitud de onda de la radiación que se utiliza como fuente de iluminación y sena (n) es la apertura numérica. Lo anterior significa que un microscopio es más poderoso si utiliza como fuente de iluminación longitudes de onda pequeñas o si el diámetro de las lentes es más grande. En la microscopía de luz, las A. que se utilizan están comprendidas en la fracción del espectro electromagnético de la luz visible (de aproximadamente 400 a 700 nm) . La resolución en microscopía de luz puede alcanzar valores de alrededor de 0.2 pm, en comparación con la resolución del ojo humano que se estima en 0.2 mm. En la microscopía electrónica -debido a que la longitud de onda de la radiación que se utiliza como fuente de iluminación de objeto puede variar de acuerdo con la ecuación de De Broglie: A. =h/mv en donde h es la constante de Planck, m la masa de la partícula en cuestión y v la velocidad con la que se mueve- las longitudes de onda utilizadas son muy pequeñas y al ser usadas en la ecuación de Abbe, se alcanzan valores de r muy bajos, es decir, la resolución se incrementa notablemente, hasta obtenerse valores del orden de las milimicras o nanómetros . En resumen, la longitud de onda se puede hacer más Luis Felipe Jiménez. Imagen con microscopio de contraste de fases de un embrión de caracol (Physa) de Xochimilco. La concha y el pie dentro del huevo se observan con mucho detalle por el sistema de microscopía utilizado. UNAM.







A=

A=

10. 23 m

A- ~ 231

10. 22 m


A=10. 14 m, 2001

A=10. 16 m, 2001

A- ~ 232


l

• •

.' ••

••..'1• •

.,

.

• • • •

• •• .

-

•• • , , • • • • • • • • ti

#

•.

• •, • ~

Ji

Ji =

= 70. 04 m, 2007

Á- ~ 233

70. 70 m, 2007

ti

ti

, • •• •,






Gabriel Bรกtiz Lozano. Fragmentos de Prayecto, 2000.



Raúl González . M31 , 1999. La galaxia Andrómeda o M31 es la más cercana a la Vía Láctea; se localiza a dos millones quinientos mil años luz de distancia . Esta exposición duró veinte minutos. La distancia que la luz viaja en este tiempo es aproximadamente la que hay entre el Sol y Marte . La luz contenida en este espacio viajó durante 2.5 millones de años para sensibilizar la emulsión de la película . Cuando esta luz salió de la galaxia de Andrómeda, el ser humano era un Australopitecus Afarensis. 5chmidt-Cassegrain de 8 pulgadas a f/l O en un cuerpo Pentax K1000 . 20 minutos de exposición . Fujicolor 5uperia 800. Á- ~ 240


Raúl González, M42, 1999. La gran nebulosa de Orión o M42 es la sala de maternidad del cie lo. Se encuentra a una distancia de mi l quinientos años luz. Aquí, el polvo y el gas se condensan en nuevas estrellas. Schmidt-Cassegrain de 8 pulgadas a fIlO en un cuerpo Pentax K1000, 40 minutos de exposición, Fujicolor Superia 800.

A- ~ 241



Telesco pio espacial Hubbl e.

Ă -o<> 243


LA OSCURIDAD PROFUNDA (DOS IMÁGENES)

El campo profundo del Hubble es un proyecto clave del más poderoso telescopio que la NASA ha puesto en órbita . Pretende alcanzar los objetos menos brillantes jamás observados y llevar la tecnología óptica hasta sus límites. Al fotografiar desde el espacio, el Hubble evita los reflejos producidos por la atmósfera, obteniendo así imágenes más nítidas, con negros de una negrura en que se pueden ver objetos realmente tenues . La imagen que aquí se presenta fue tomada con un telescopio de buen tamaño (2.40 m . de diámetro), lo cual permite recolectar una gran cantidad de luz. La toma fue realmente larga : requirió de 10 días de exposición para integrarse. Es aproximadamante 10 000 000 000 (diez mil millones) de veces más sensible de lo que podría alcanzar a ver el ojo humano y, dado el costo de su realización, probablemente no será superada, al menos hasta que exista un nuevo telescopio espacial de mayor tamaño que nos permita a los astróno~os dar un nuevo gran paso hacia lo profundo de la oscuridad. A- ~ 244


Imágenes del COBE. Para una persona con estudios de física los tres óvalos anteriores representan el análisis de las fluctuaciones de temperatura de la radiación de fondo. Un físico podría agregar que la radiación de fondo es el remanente de la gran explosión y es, también, uno de los elementos más importantes en las teorías cosmológicas. Para obtener esta imagen, fue necesario poner un satélite en órbita y este artefacto necesitó cuatro años para juntar la información necesa ria antes de poder llegar a hacer estas representaciones. La foto permite ver la radiación más antigua que se recibe del uni ve rso, originada 300 000 años después de la gran explosión, cuando el universo se volvió transparente por primera vez. En ese momento, la materia tenía una temperatura de 3000 grados centígrados y era de color rojo . Estaba formada por electrones, protones y partículas a lfa, que posteriormente se transformaron en el universo en partículas neutras (átomos de hidrógeno y áto mos de helio) . De toda la radiación que llega a la tierra en distintas longitudes de onda, la más lejana es la que ha tardado más tiempo en llegar. De manera que la imagen de cuando el universo era más joven es precisamente aquélla que a su vez es más distante. Las imágenes del Cobe representan la primera imagen del universo primigenio. Sin embargo, tal vez sería más interesante saber que ellas conllevan un estudio de la luz; es decir, un análisis de ondas milimétricas (luz que nuestros ojos no pueden ver). Esta lu z se rá muy antigua pa ra cuando llegue a la tierra, pues se produjo cuando el universo tenía apenas 300 000 años de existencia, y ha estado viajando en el espacio durante 15 000 000 000 de años más hasta llegar a nosotros. Al mismo tiempo, no sólo es la radiación más antigua que recibimos sino también la más lejana, pues ha viajado ciento cuarenta mil trillones de kilómetros antes de llegar a nosotros. / Dr. An tonio Peim bert. Instituto de Astronomía de la UNAM A- ~ 245





La obra de Kubrick quedará, pues, como un límite. Así como James Joyce y Fernando Pessoa, con estategias bien distintas, desplazaron el punto de vista del narrador o del poeta a una multiplicidad creadora, Marcel Duchamp clausuró para siempre la idea de una pintura retiniana para ofrecernos un punto de vista siempre desde un más allá mentido a nuestros limitados cinco sentidos. No otra cosa hicieron Luciano Berio, John Cage o Jimi Hendrix en el campo de la música, donde las máquinas comenzaban a tomar la escena: el sintetizador, la grabadora, la guitarra eléctrica. Stanley Kubrick nos enseñó, de una manera magistral, a mirar al mundo desde el punto de vista de lo que no es humano. El suyo quedará en nuestra memoria, acaso para siempre, como el cine de lo invisible.

Un día en las pantallas de las computadoras comenzaron a aparecer mensajes enigmáticos cuya procedencia jamás pudo ser revelada: "Al entrar en un hoyo negro, el viajero experimenta una rara sensación: su cuerpo se hace cada vez más pequeño y rejuvenece rápidamente, hasta que la escafandra comienza a quedarle grande. Lentamente va olvidando las palabras, va perdiendo la memoria. Balbucea dentro del traje de astronauta. En el punto medio de su viaje ha regresado al punto microscópico de un huevo fecundado. Cuando se dirige a la salida comienza a crecer de nuevo, como un gusano en una crisálida. Vuelve a ser niño, adolescente, hasta que al salir del otro lado ha recuperado su antigua forma adulta. Aparecerá en un universo paralelo. El ojo humano verá algo que jamás habremos visto. El oído escuchará lo que nunca hemos escuchado. Las palabras nombrarán lo que nunca ha sido nombrado. El pensamiento entrará en lo desconocido. Y sin embargo, el hombre seguirá siendo él mismo. Las palabras, las imágenes y la música serán las mismas viejas imágenes, palabras y música. Sólo será el universo lo que habrá cambiado ... definitivamente. 11

A - ~ 249


Á- ~ 250




Susan Rankaitis. Instalaci贸n Creat 5aft Lake, 2000.


Susan Rankaitis . Pathfinder en la playa. Técnica mixta, 2000.

Á- ~ 254


Su san Rankaitis. Complejidad azul. Técnica mixta, 1998.

Á- ~ 2S5


t

" •.. . .' \

.'

...... • /' . . ._'li-,. . '..

,

..

. ~ ~."

.

'e

'"

.'

.... ,

.,

.. ~ • • \ ,.

.

.. . ~

, ; .. . .íI. l

fIl·",I}II • . .. . "

~I'>

, ~'

, _1

' ."e.".,.·_:

'a' "

.. .

~,

.,

Dr. Julio Juárez. Muestra de acero. 1200 x Ferrita amarilla. Fases oscuras / inclusiones (contaminaciones). Exhibe una grieta, UNAM .

Á- ~ 256

...•,

"

,1



Adrián Garda . De la serie: Cristalería, 1997 .

Á- ~ 258


5ebastián Rodríguez Romo. De la serie: Caminas. Carretera a Río, Sao Paulo, 1998.

Á- ~ 259






Ariel Ruiz i Altaba. 181 . De la serie: Paisajes embrionarios. Cortesía del artista .

Las imágenes que aquí presentamos formarán parte del libro Paisajes embrionarios, de próxima aparición en editorial ACTAR. Barcelona, España .

Á- ~ 264



materia prima actual para la evolución de nuestros descendientes. Las imágenes de Paisajes embrionarios capturan un destello fugaz de la formulación del desarrollo normal, y por tanto de todas las monstruosidades posibles, de forma que esta colección se convierte en un espejo, una puerta hacia una exploración introspectiva. Paisajes embrionarios incluye imágenes microscópicas fieles que muestran diversas morfo logías e histologías, como las de axones o las de células embrionarias individuales (de unos pocos micrones de diámetro) tomadas con la ayuda de refinados microscopios ópticos. Las fotografía s también incluyen objetos y formas de vida a nuestra escala, como por ejemplo un huevo de pollo intervenido o una rana adulta poniendo "ristras" de huevos. Además, Paisajes embrionarios insinúa la formación de anatomías moleculares al enseñar dónde y cuándo se activan unos gen es específicos. Puesto que los patrones de expresión génica se revelan de forma indirecta, generalmente en especímenes fijados y por tanto muertos, algunas de las Ariel Rulz i Altaba . 137. De la serie: Paisajes embrionarios. Cortesfa del artista.


imágenes de este libro muestran realidades virtuales que normalmente la ciencia examinaría y validaría. Pero más allá del uso de tecnología para la adquisición de imágenes que documenten grano a grano o píxel a píxellos datos que l/vemos", una vez descontextualizadas, las fotografías científicas pueden convertirse en abstracciones atractivas. Y además, las fotografías artísticas de sujetos científicos pueden plantear preguntas que la investigación científica no abarca. Tanto el arte como la ciencia tienen propósito e intención, y saber "cómo ver" es la base de la investigación artística y científica. Las imágenes artísticas y los datos científicos se reinterpretan y se reevalúan a menudo a través de ojos que "ven" de forma diferente. La creatividad dirige entonces esta primera aproximación de manera altamente subjetiva, con la esperanza de que conduzca a verdades universales. Es como si la ciencia y el arte se originaran a partir de la misma fuente creativa, divergieran, y más tarde convergieran en el límite del Ariel Ruiz i Altaba . 97. De la serie: Paisajes embrionarios. Cortesía del artista.


mundo conocido en expansión, en el cual la universalidad es un atributo efímero. En la investigación científica vamos del estado de admiración de una maravilla a cuestionarla, y, a veces, llegamos al entendimiento. ¿Es posible avanzar y retroceder a lo largo de este camino? ¿Puede la ciencia -que está cambiando la percepción de nuestra propia naturaleza- ser percibida como arte? ¿Nos puede informar sobre el mundo de forma imprevisible? Posiblemente, porque la búsqueda de conocimiento que implica el arte transforma nuestra comprensión científica de la realidad en una exploración filosófica que se adentra allá donde confluyen el arte y la ciencia. Metodológicamente, la ciencia y el arte divergen. Y mucho. La ciencia moderna se basa en la idea del experimento, la objetividad y la reproductividad. La ciencia construye a partir de conocimientos previos, y a menudo trabaja a partir de la inducción y la deducción, cosa que Ariel Ruiz i Altaba. 19. De la serie: Paisajes embrionarios. Cortesía del artista.


no sucede con el arte. Los científicos pueden ser artistas, mientras que es muy improbable que suceda a la inversa. El objetivo de la ciencia es encontrar respuestas a problemas factibles, mientras que el objetivo del arte puede ser aumentar nuestra conciencia al formular preguntas para las cuales no hay respuesta posible en el momento en el que se plantean. Además, en la ciencia la belleza se mide en relación a la verdad (aceptada). En el arte, la verdad y la belleza son relativas (a la aceptación). Sin embargo, nos podemos cuestionar si el arte es reproducible, si hay controles en el arte, si la ciencia es siempre objetiva, si las verdades pueden evolucionar o si hay lógica en el arte del mismo modo que la hay en la genética. Nos podemos preguntar entonces si la reproductividad puede encontrarse en las variaciones sobre un mismo tema por un solo artista, o si la creación de una serie de objetos de arte relacionados representa, en sí misma, un control. Los niños pueden dibujar trazos que imiten a Miró, pero fue Miró quien Ariel Ruiz i Altaba. 131 . De la serie: Paisajes embrionarios. Cortesía del artista.


desarrolló el lenguaje universal para leer el mundo que permea su obra. ¿En qué se diferencia esto de un lenguaje científico que se utiliza para comenzar a entender la naturaleza? La seducción es también el objetivo de Paisajes embrionarios, aquélla requerida para que el observador/lector indague en la esencia de las imágenes fotográficas y de sus interpretaciones: por qué algunas de las imágenes resultan atractivas, otras incómodas y otras incluso alienantes. El lector/observador seducido emprenderá una investigación, que podría incluir preguntas tales como: ¿de qué manera afectan a nuestros sentidos los espacios mostrados en las fotografías? ¿qué hace que un espacio sea embrionario? ¿son paisajes los espacios? ¿cuál es la diferencia, si la hay, entre un paisaje geográfico y un paisaje del cuerpo? ¿es la magnitud el único parámetro que separa los retratos de los paisajes? ¿cuán virtual sería un paisaje si se desconociera su magnitud y su contenido? ¿puede existir un paisaje sin un observador?

Ariel Ruiz i Altaba . 42 1. De la serie: Paisajes embrionarios. Cortesía del artista.


¿puede el espacio "vacío" en una fotografía convertirse en el centro del significado? ¿cómo sabemos qué es la realidad de una imagen? ¿pueden unas realidades evolucionar por consenso? ¿cuáles son las bases del poder y de la información que forman a nuestras percepciones? Las imágenes fotográficas no son los objetos que representan, y sus realidades se mantienen necesariamente sospechosas hasta que sean validadas, en parte mediante la definición de su contenido, contexto, escala e incluso de la intención del fotógrafo y del observador. Por sí sola, la fotografía no puede escaparse de un principio de incertidumbre, por lo que no es posible saber simultáneamente el tiempo y la realidad (lugar, sujeto o cosa) precisos que se muestran. De hecho, en ausencia de una información completa, las imágenes "reales" se convierten en abstracciones que pueden desafiar nuestras percepciones y conocimientos, despertando nuestra imaginación. De todas las abstracciones visuales, es posible que tan sólo cier-

Ariel Ruiz i Altaba . 419. De la serie: Paisajes embrionarios. Cortesía del artista.


tas imágenes biomórficas permanezcan de forma inesperadamente "real" en nuestros cerebros biológicos, incluso en la abstracción más profunda de un mundo virtual. Estas imágenes pueden exudar una realidad inexorable y perenne que nuestra mente reconoce como perteneciente a nuestro mundo y magnitud. Otras imágenes pueden carecer de tal realidad, pero la mente las dota de ella en la búsqueda de patrones familiares, ya que la identidad de lo que vemos está modificada por nuestros conocimientos, creencias y pensamientos. En este sentido, el revelado de las fotografías de embriones adquiere un doble significado, cuando los reactivos químicos dan una nueva vida al instante detenido en la fotografía. Quizá los múltiples significados que nuestro cerebro puede asignar a estas fotografías son un reflejo de las posibilidades que implican el desarrollo embrionario repetido y las mutaciones durante la evolución. Entonces, ¿qué sería más maravilloso y más real: nuestra imaginación o la naturaleza? Ariel Ruiz i Altaba. 359. De la serie: Paisajes embrionarios. Cortesía del artista.





Carmen Loyola . De la serie: Y tú ¿qué ves? Morpho sp. 1997. Cyonocorax yncas. UNAM.

A- ~ 276


Calixto l eó n. Cissus sicyoides (liana) secc ión tra nsversal de tallo, xi lema primario

20x. Luz polari zada. UNAM.

Á- ~ 277

y anillo esclerenquimático.


Formación de la imagen confocal mediante la aplicación de luz natural (a), luz láser de una frecuencia (S43nm) (b), luz láser de otra frecuencia (488nm) (e) y la combinación de ambas (d). Nótese que sólo se visualizan los objetos que reaccionan a la luz (por fluorescencia) generando un color diferente. Microfotografía de la hoja de Piper sanctum (Hoja Santa); las células de color rojo y las glándulas de color verde. 300 x.

La luz es la primera forma corpórea que multiplicándose hacia todas partes a partir de un sólo punto, forma una esfera y de ésta surge la materia. Toda la creación material es sólo luz condensada. Robert Grosseteste. Obispo de Lincoln, Inglaterra, autor de De Luce, 1229.

A-~ 278







Ana Isabel Bieler y losé Antonio Hernández. Fotomacrografías de semillas de diversas especies vegetales del Pedregal de San Ángel, con aumentos de 2x a 8x. Equipo: cáma ra reflex, fuelle, lente macro de 50 mm. y objetivos microanastigmáticos. Iluminación: luz de tungsteno. UNAM .

Á- ~ 284


A- ~ 285


Raúl Saldaña lobato y Dr. Julián Sánchez Cortázar. Zona en que se descubrió un cementerio de dinosaurios. Río Colorado, Coahuila .

Á- ~ 286


Raúl Saldaña Lobato y Dr. Julián Sánchez Cortázar. Huevo de dinosaurio encontrado, en 1998, en Río Colorado, Coahuila. (1 , 2 Y 4). Cortes radiográficos con equipo de tomografía computarizada. Huevo de dinosaurio descubierto en el desierto de Govi, China. (3)

Á-= 287


Á- ~ 288


CONTENTS A HALF CENTURY OF MEMORIES

THE CYBORG'S IMPERCEPTIBLE SERIAL-NESS Antonio Caronia 18

Á=10·'O m

OF A MEXICAN BIOLOGIST Enrique Beltrán 4

MICROSCOPY Luis Felipe Jiménez 52

ALlHEIMER AND MEMORY

Pamela Echeverría 53

Raúl Mena López 20

CONCERNING THE LARGE

IMAGE FROM THE HUBBLE DEEP

AND THE SMALL

OMI

Camille Flammarion 6

Esteban Schmelz 20

INCESSANT TEMPORALlTY

THE TROPIC OF CANCER

José Lezama Lima 6

Mauricio Ortiz 22

THRESHOLDS

THE FIRST ECLIPSE

FILMMAKING EXPLORING

Carlos López Beltrán 6

PHOTOGRAPHED?

THE LlMITS Mauricio Molina 55

FIELD TELESCOPE 55 PICTURES FROM THE COBE Antonio Peimbert 55

2001, A SPACE ODYSSEY:

P~ter

Hingley 24

(NATURAL) HISTORY OF THE EYE Francisco Vergara Silva 9

VOYAGE TO JAPAN 28

IN THE GENETIC LANGUAGE ERA 57

1840-1875: ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY'S FALSE STARTS THE OBJECT STARES BACK. On the Nature of Seeing.

Quentin Bajac 29

James Elkins 12

THE SKY MAP Joaquín Gallo Monterrubio 38

Antony van Leewenhoek 12

A DEFECT IN THE EMULSION DENSITY OSClLLATOR Pável Real 1 3

Marta Acevedo 40

THE MEASURE OF UNCERTAINTY Ricardo Toledo 58

THE FLARE OF FEBRUARY 9 40 ORGANIC INTIMACY Luz María Sepúlveda 1 3

EMBRYONIC LANDSCAPES THE OTHER INFINITY Itala Schmelz 40

BLACK ART Jean Clair 14

SNOW BEAUTIES

Ariel Ruiz i Altaba 59

FLORAL RONTGENGRAPHS Raúl Saldaña Lobato 61

Wilson A. Bentley 43

GOETHE'S PRISMA

IMAGING Ramón Ponte 15

THE LACANDONIA SCHISMATICA

Xavier Lozoya, Jorge A. Sosa

Elena Álvarez-Buylla 46

Melgarejo y Erika Rivera Arce 61

CHILlGHT Xavier Lozoya 1 7

THE TRAIL OF POLlSHED GLASS Alfonso Morales 47


mur~t9'tlQOS maestros, fue Chapu ~'( que el propio Herrera fuada't-éil, en 1923 con que Enriq~tt~lt dó en inscribirse, a los dieCl '~t grandes esf '. z~ que seguía en .,. . en la especialidad de Ciencia .....,. 'raq" Darte el P~rt~.Qe Roma), """~ ~*1. <;¡" .",. Naturales, en la Facultad ·~O{1. su ñOJTI""bre. . ' m6í~f1 graNacional de Altos Estudios, Herré'a~GQQ~ ,~ cias ~~I, geStlo ~ hemiaehte entomólogo W. J. ~ donde se recibió, en 1 ~..con Holland, que se consiguió la réplina tesis sobre los R,f.otozoarios 'a'g(kd~<S2.hqbf¡ti'lco . Tres afio"S..fft'á~""tarcte.a~ltrán se co tiría en el primer) p turalista o biólogo profe.>~,or.úil de Muc~f1ueron las con las g~e Enrique ~a4'istoria,,,QEhEnriq!J.~'t.~~~mi,stad~ pero sól historia de una pasión por la vida, . profund que se remonta a la curiosidad y c~ de don A . al asombro de la infancia, pero / ÁUien adem~sdde <:>l'Ylnr,<:>n,'i<:>r también al descubrimiento de un ardua . aparato de dimensiones casi má9J~ cas, capaz de penetrar en el mi § terio de las cosas: el microscop . De las "cromolitografías d a centavo [... ] que se vendían e tlapalerías y estanquillos", ' ue los niños juntaban por e. . sJ p gusto de coleccionar · ~ndo pq i un primer "micr~,C" . o de tubo ) adquirido de ~ . )., (ja mano por $5.00 en }tR1>,±ésto de 'El Volab~c:ión inició dor'" y pOr otfo menos sencillo, "un v '' Ull)-; oso aparato de en 1; 96, y trípo ' e, de manufactura brjfanrc~/año tn que re! EU' ,,~ J -¿marca Ros~?- co.n cre ;~er~,dé dict;ft . revista),. sobresalió en el . dos. cadena, tornillo mICrOl¡ etrlC()~ estl dlQt'tief of lgende la materia % número de conde~s~dor y tres ~~eti'-:1il Vi~le?~e: "En su 'cl5~ Mole~ular de exhibirse. Por lo que m acromatlcos", que sleJ1d~fapenas e~blrlOn and the orJ~t",of l/fe, pupropuse iniciar un modesto un alumno de prep~ a .a . oria bJi<fda en 1972 por S.\~(~F-o MusFo aD1E),rtq al 'JJbHc ." adquirió en una casI empeño, (f CJrteameriCanO) y K. Dose Enrique Beltrán se a . entró pronto (¡tleJnán), en el capítulo introduc~ acido en el seno de una if f ~fa ft¡iIt(l porfiriana, Enrique Beltrán· al amplio mun~o ~e las imágenes ~orro d~ carácter histórico, únic~y de los seres diminutos. rnJ,te Incluyen cuatro fotograflas J ~it.~a\zó de~de niño .c~n la rev~­ 'Juclo"h.'rnaderlsta: "qUlza [como el l e lRuienes, según ellos, [... ] son Gracias a esos azares que . ¡lsm'\ ~eCla J. / ] porque me atralan / parecen ir al encuentro de las os más destacados: CR. Darwin, la imá f es de los 'alzados' que mentes inquietas, su tío Fran~~. f asteur, A.1. Oparin y A.L. . aPiarecíari en la prensa, con somcisco, le regaló en una visita a la a~rrera." El propio Beltrán logr ~ capital desde Monterrey "catorce q'\I~, en 1975, con motivo del brero 'texano' de alas anchas y (!) tomitos en octavo, correscuentenario de la publicación pl1nas con cinta tricolor rodeando \ it a ,¡ opa, dos cananas cruzadas pondientes a Zoología, de la libro clásico de Alexander Oparin, Historia Natural de K. Zimmerse emitiera una estampilla postal $.o ~ re el pecho y el 30-30 en la mann, traducida al español", con la efigie de Herrera y se bautiEn~),o." Fue jacobino y ateo, pero sobre todo gracias al estízara al Parque Zoológico de ~g:uien que sólo aceptaba como MEDIO SIGLO DE RECUERDOS DE UN BiÓLOGO MEXICANO

,

Ca'?

..

El Dr. Enrique Beltrán en el Marine Biology Laboratory de Woods Hole, Mass.;,¡nayo de 1932. Archivo del Instituto Mexicano de Recursos Naturales Renovables


la\1tetra,,'alencia y las comelemento carbono.

;~"'¡"' ~ "1""'~1

México, Beltrán se inició en el estudio de los protozoarios planctónicos de la Presa de Don Martín, en Coahuila, y del Lago de Pátzcuaro, en Michoacán, así como de los parás algunos peces de tales dl:lil'J~n.v;). rn e, se forproyecto de un ado a estudiar las .,...::'I<:-3'r :o

fueron extraídos de unas tarjetas de investigación y estudio realizadas por el biólogo mexicano Enrique Beltrán, durante su estancia en Woods Hole, Mass., entre el 28 de abril de 1932 y el 28 de julio del mismo año. Las tarjetas, de 15cm. de ancho por 10 cm. de alto, incluyen datos muy precisos, mecanografiados en inglés, acerca de diversos protozooarios. Además de especificar en cada una de ellas la fecha exacta de las observaciones, se describe la especie retratada según su clase, orden, familia y nombre científico. Asimismo se señala la fuente de la que proceden (char-

l~~~~o$',....~~~~~~a~~1 es, pantanos, depóde agua salobre y acequias), así como el tamaño de la especie color (o su ausencia). El do-

Na'W,(;g/~~za

y Problemas biológicos. de interpretación material-

q~~r1é(:tloa,

éste último deudor señanzas de Mario Sousa, conocedor del marxis.dor de Beltrán en esta

ningu aunque tenía muchá~eqféf;:l~~a con Sp. lanceolatum. L.l1:::;)IJUI:.:PUIJ;; ·~" varios meses de cuidadosas observaciones, y exhaustiva revisión de la literatura, llegué a la conclusión de que se tratába de una esp'ecie nueva ... " En 1933, a su regreso a

nservación, protozoología, historia de las ciencias, etc. Casi una veintena de especies están a él dedicadas. nciono, al azar, la Nyctotherus beltrani, la Daturella beltrani y la

La revista Luna rr.rn",.I'I"*,,",·:Y."~,,,~ agradece al Arq. Enrique Beltrán, director de este organismo, así como a Alejandra Vázquez Andrade, todo el apoyo brindado y el habernos facilitado la consulta de diversos materiales para la elaboración de esta entrega. Patricia Gola

Beltramia crematifolia.

Información extraída de

Los dibujos en tinta china que ilustran la versión en inglés de esta entrega de Luna Córnea

Enrique Beltrán. Medio siglo de recuerdos de un biólogo mexicano.

Sociedad Mexicana de Historia Natura México, D.F. 1977.

El doctor Beltrán con su telescopio, a principios de los años cuarenta. Archivo del Instituto Mexicano de Recursos Naturales Renovables



clutched in their hands", he recalled. He was a Jacobin and an atheist for whom the only divinity was the tetra valence and the combinations of the carbon element. His teacher Alfonso Herrera, invited him to join the Masons, but soon disillusioned, he disassociated himself from the group. However, he was a member of the Revolutionary Anticlerical Group, which began publishing a twicemonthly tabloid called La Sotana (a double entendre combining "cassock" and "thrashing") in 1929. It continued coming out for a couple of years. In addition to Beltrán, some of the other collaborators

sites found in various fish in Lake Don Martín and Lake Pátzcuaro, in the states of Coahuila and

nyctotherus beltráni, daturella beltrani

Michoacán, respectively. Two years later, the center for the study of

this Luna\~ó were{tt "'\

tropical diseases was established, and

~'~a

Dr. Eliseo Ramírez was put in charge.w~~::"*~::.:.....' 81bl

J)"Jn

....

',:,,~«?.;~w

~""'7-"r

"t"5'"

/','"

' "<""",.,

helm of the one speciali~ed~ln..Pt2.t~ ;~ta"ndard~,t:íf:J!¡fX'·4dQ~~ofe cards con'o/" taif1 , de!~ired"óbserx;g tions on various zoology. His first pr~wa'S~.t:b$..~ p~ptQ,?:S'a:"'typs.g in English, with the study of blood s~es OT'\t killed for market in rvlexic0J;€i , . ~ e~tt'dat~s theywere made. The _',_ . , ," i Enrique eltrán' aür . 34 " Ind 9rder, amily and scientific ame a2~otnpany each species es d, along with the site where ~ih,was sampled (ponds, tanks, marsho/

~!:_~rackish ~aters and brooks) and

tllé' color (or Its absence) were all

were; Enrique Cortés, Francisco Herrera, Federico Melgar, Arnulfo Xiques, Marco Antonio Moreno, Chano Urueta, Miguel Arroyo de la Parra, and others. The retort to this effort was to be expected, La Sotana's correspondent for the Ixtapalapa area was summarily killed. With his country in tumult and horizons limited, it was only natural that Beltrán got the itch to travel abroad, and a Guggenheim fellowship made it possible. It was a

9 hi~ s<L, ..:d:::. ~~;:.:~~.

.

Enrique Beltrán was hired on as c.bJ~,:~~~~"",/i e,Ma~:U~el!;:",~:tween of one of the nine laboratorieS'!4t,tttelat~/Ai~Jil ,ª nd~Ja~ " ulY,,,,~f 1932: The

~duly noted. Even the brand of micro~cope,

a Zeiss, and the number of

...~ augmentations are included. These materials are part of the ' "

documentary and iconographic archives of Dr. Enrique Beltrán, .. elonging to the Instituto Mexicano ,d ~

Recursos Naturales Renovables,

A.c., which Beltrán himself founded \. :~ ~l952, where the over 10,000 vo~

e, library is housed. The institute a..lso hoIYses the collections of the '" ~ S~¡~a~iCana de Historia • ..

Natu\~ • Luna c6rngg wants to thank Mr. Enriquet Itrán, head of this instituti0!ú;an also ~ . Alejandra Vázquez

~ An grade~ fo~ eir support and help .. with the?consultation of several

mater ials fO'f«t.liis issue. Patricia ! Qla ,4

"'

ITr. H. Porter

.,~

nfdrmatloA~aken

from : Enrique Beltr~n: Medio Siglo de


CONCERNIG THE LARGE ANO THE SMALL Camille Flammarion What maintains the Earth, the Sun and all of the universe's stars in eternal space? What supports th is long iron beam resting upon two walls, and on top of which several floors are to be built? What helps all bodies keep their shape? Force. The world, things and beings, everything we see, is made up of invisible and imponderable atoms. The universe is a dynamism . Cod is the universal soul: in eo vivimus,

movemur et sumus. Just as the soui is the force that moves the body, the infinite being is the force that moves the cosmos! The purely mechanical theory of the universe is incomplete to the analyst who goes to the bottom of things. The human will is not much indeed when compared to cosmic forces . Nevertheless, by sending a train from Paris to Marseilles, or a ship from Marseilles to Suez, i willfully make an infinitesimal part of the terrestrial mass change places and modify the course of the Moon. Ve blind men of the nineteenth century, hearken to Mantua's swan: Mens agitat molem. If I anaiyze matter, I will find at the bottom of everything an invisible atom: matter disappears, turns into smoke. If my gaze had the power to penetra te reality, it would see through walls, which are made up of separate molecules, and through bodies, which are but whirlwinds of atoms. Our eyes of fiesh do not see that which is. What we must look with are those of the spirit. Let us not rely upon the mere testimony of our senses: during the day there are over our heads as many stars as at night. Within nature, astronomy, physics, chemistry, mechanics do not exist: these sciences are merely subjective methods of observation. There is nothing more than a unity.

The infinitely big is identical to the infinitely small. Space is infinite but not vasto Duration is infinite but not longer. Stars and atoms are the same. I Tr. R. Moszko Camille F/ammarion. Uranio, Libreña de la Vda

de Ch. Saure!, 1903.

INCESSANT TEMPORALlTY A series of points of light converge towards one contingency, a fact, which is the exit that discovers the light; for example, should a ray of light bump suddenly into a cloud, it immediately opens its refraction angle. From there come the Egyptians in the pyramidal times, as the soul always comes across an obstacle, material, cloud, judgment, forcing it to refracto Points of light

things did not look the same. Shapes were outlined in a hitherto unknown manner. Textures, light and tones were quite different to her previous awareness of them. She cried eried rather than laughed. She was sea red, angry, overeome by grief-stricken . She was overcome a harrowing insecurity, inseeurity, which, whieh, as she told me about it, seized me as well. How can I - she explained- ever believe my eyes again? How do I know that the way I see now is the way one truly sees? I will never know how people who do not wear glasses actually see things. It took me a few minutes to realize that who was better suited than myself, given my hawk eyes. But I didn't say anything.

concur in one fact, a phenomenological manifestation; once they arrive at this contingency, the points disperse in innumerable refractions. In dependence upon these obstacles to dependenee the light, history has an irradiation of eonstant spatial refraction . The vibraconstant tion of historie time in light time is a constant journey, an incessant verifidistanees eation. There are cosmic distances cation. for which historie time does not exist. For them we are still a geological period of emigrations; disappearanees under the sea, undecipherable ances yawns, of stellar puddles or calm ealm furies, buried, that catastrophe leads to a skipped beat or to delirium without accompanying aeeompanying deity.

José Lezama Lima. " Incessant temporality". Completed Wooo. Volume 11. Mexico: Aguilar, 1977.

THRESHOLDS Carlos López Beltrán It was a September moming. We were still children. ehildren. It was cool eool out and there was something imminent in the airo My sister was sitting on the curb eurb and crying erying disconsolately. diseonsolately. Her explanation shattered m e. She had just been given her new glasses. Putting them on, she had found that 6

She stopped crying . She turned towards me and said: The only thing that's for sure is that you're pretty damn ugly, and she ran away. mueh : our Helmholtz said as much eyes, of which Renaissance Renaissanee anatomists were so proud, would put a good engineer to shame. They are a wonder considering eonsidering the patchwork, trial-and-error process proeess that ereated them. Theologians' reasoncreated ing that their perfection speaks-eloquently of the Creator is a fraud. Darwin was able to show us how something that is such sueh an ad hoc measure, so makeshitt that is, finally seems so sublime.


To sta te as a premise that our

to trust our eyes. Up aboye as well

or we sail off onto the unfathomable

sense of sight plays tricks on us is not

as down below, we discovered

oceans of inference, guided by our

having a premise, giving up, beco m-

objects and events we could neither

sad, meager imagination.

ing conceited . It would lead to the

perceive nor fathom .

extinction of a tree-dwelling species.

And beyond the red and the vio-

Of all our sen ses, sight is the first, the most noble, the most

But sooner or later that is where we

let, out of reach, lay the wide-rang-

sweeping, and nevertheless, says

end up. There are more things

ing dance of practically everything.

Malebranche, we are not given to

between heaven and earth than the obvious.

We dwell not in Plato's cave but in visible light's tiny deceitful cell, our

know the truth "at a glance." It is not unusual for our eyes to play

optical-organic circuitry serving as a

tricks on us as far as shapes, sizes

weak torch o

and colors are concerned. And what

Natural selection allowed us to see clearly enough, to perceive depth by combining two images, to

At the end of the seventeenth

can we say after having looked

see colors by dividing the visible-

century, Nicolas Malebranche wrote

through a magnifying glass? AII our

light continuum into definite zones (Goethe knew th is - the rainbow is

about the experience of looking

stubborn certainties about what

through a microscope: " [ ... l animals

exists are destroyed.

inside us, not outside). It calibrated

much smaller than an almost-invisi-

Certainty, for arrogant indivi-

us, as well as it could, matching us

ble grain of sand [ ... ], these living atoms walk as well as other animals

duals, was to see with one's eyes

to our environment. It also enclosed

closed. To have an inner eye fixed on the formulas used by the Creator. Paracelsus repudiated scholastics by positing two parallel worlds. In the first, things are seen and moved by the physical body (eyes, hands), and in the other they are seen and moved by the soul. Imagination has the same ability to manipulate the parallel world's matter. He acquired few followers. There is nothing in our minds that did not formerly exist in our eyes, insisted the moderns. Robert Boyle did not concur: the mind is not corrected by sight, but rather advised by it. The mind corrects itself after seeki ng the eyes' advice. Discovering that what we have

us between two perceptive walls. It

[...l

fractured the electromagnetic continuum and left us, sinking, between two insurmountable

bones in their legs.. . as well as tendons, and an endless number of

tory of our species to be the only, ultimate fabric of reality is but a

boundaries. As visual owners of practically nothing, we thought we ruled over reality for millennia with our indeed feeble gaze. It is said that the Western ego

they have legs and feet, and

all considered during the entire his-

fibers in every muscle; and finally,

superfluous layer, a coast, a bound-

they have blood or very subtle and delicate animal spirits that fill and

effect. To accept that there are

move these muscles [ ... l and though reason convinces us of the soundness

our body (millions of neutrinos pass

of such an existence, our sen ses and

through us without us feeling

ary, has a dizzying psychological unfathomable events connected to

suffered a blow when Copernicans

imagination resist it and make us

them, and vice versa) is to beco me

de-centered the planet and when,

question it [ .. .l." The lesson, for Malebranche, is

ghost-like. It is like acknowledging that we hear voices without know-

clear. We are lost if we tether our

ing from where they issue. Like

knowledge to the gaze. We have but a single alternative: either we cling to

intuiting strange presences and getting used to calling this divination

after further disparagement, it ended up in a dark and dusty corner of the universe. Darwin 's and Freud's theories added to the burden . We received another no less drastic blow when we learned not

what we see as if it were the

perception. Like accepting a paral-

Ptolemaic terra firma of knowledge,

lel, inaccessible reality that never-

7


theless bears an influence, makes its presence felt on the margins, in the half-light of thresholds. It is like living on tenterhooks, expecting something from the other side of the barrier to burst through . When I was a teenager I had a friend who swore he saw more than we did . That he could tell whether a plate of food was hot or cold by looking at it. That in the starry night sky he could see light where everyone else saw nothing but darkness. That he was often dazzled by radiation suddenly bursting forth from unexpected sources, which only he perceived. Just as there are people who can hear higher-pitched sounds

black and white, and intervening mid-tones were for him the basic model of our sensitivity. Black-andwhite photography was the technological reinvention of the basic achromatic universe that the poet had prophesied. The world's coat of many colors is superimposed upon this pre-established, limited space that is defined by our organ and our psyche. Two kinds of instruments help us see. Sorne help us see better. Others help us see "more." Magnifying glasses, lenses, optical telescopes and microscopes sharpen our sight. They concentrate, align, accumulate or separate beams of visible light and

approach and translation, which are neither unique nor infallible. With our reason we face the invisible, the unknown. We meticulously tie knots on a net of antecedents and consequences that we believe will brake our fall. Blind people creating a mental map of their home, their building, block, supermarket, counting steps, associating sou nds, remembering wall textures . With our imagination we try to lend familiar shapes and colors to the ghosts we thus create. That is our precarious mixture of saliva and soil with which we attempt to keep our ignorance tied to the dance of cause and effect (what an inadequate pair!)

(that of flying bats, for instance), he said that "sorne of us" could see a little more than the usual spectrum of light. Schizophrenia was the doctors' defensive diagnosis. Continuity, contiguity, the threshold is an abyss. The gradient astounds, as it is like a borderless, boundless deserto One immerses oneself in the infinitesimality as if through a narrow-necked hourglass without knowing whether one is going forward, growing more distant or approaching. To approach is to see the boundary, entrench oneself upon the fence. Goethe understood that vision was due to gradients, the product of the differential stimulation by light of the organ of sight, which was thus differentially irritated. The extremes,

bring clarity and sharpness to shapes we would not see without their aid . They "magnify" the infinitesimal. They "bring" distant objects "closer." They allow us to fathom the unfathomable. The epistemological empiricist relies upon them, since our eyes remain our touchstone. But to see "more" we use detectors which translate the invisible, transfer it by means of codes and sophisms to the field we believe we control: that of the naked eye. Electronic microscopes. Telescopes sensitive to invisible frequencies . Radiograms. Ultrasounds. Faced with these instruments, the philosophers' self-confidence wanes. The epistemological localization becomes slipperier. We must trust inferences and techno-theoretical processes of

that evades uso "If only we could see," we sigh . And we invent extensions to dream that we see atoms with electron microscopes, electrons with cloud chambers, invisible galaxies with radio telescopes. Concerning electrons, the philosopher Hacking boasted, "if you can scatter them, they' re reaL " He traded his eyes for fingers that can manipulate. Neither seeing nor inferring nor imag ining are then to him the criteria of trlJth . But most of us are dumbfounded, and keep thinking that "seeing is believing" is the wisest approach -the proof of the pudding is in the eating, we respond instinctively. We associate sight and its scope not only with knowledge but with power as well. He or she who sees is

8


the master. The one-eyed man is king . The best chess-player sees things on the board that no one else sees. The general with the better maps can better see what will happen at the hour of truth. It has been said that instruments are reified theorems, or, more commonly, extensions of our senses. Both of these expressions are faulty. The telescope or the cloud chamber were devices first -however outlandish, practically magical- that were then associated to the theorems which made them decent, trustworthy things. It was through another process, long hours of training, that our eyes got used to pressing themselves against telescope or microscope eyepieces in an im media te, transparent, natural manner. A toilsome co-evolutionary process of the outer instrument and the organic-conceptual is responsible for the fact that the scientist and finally the layperson would end up using the verb "to see" and think nothing of it when they have a technological circuit "stuck" to their nervous system. Our transformation into cyborgs is, however, reversible. One task for deconstructors is to destabilize our trust in the tamed perceptual machi ne. Or will we beco me the pets? Something we seldom realize is that we draw instruments into our own prison rather than have them liberate usoThey inherit our limitations. Our epistemological insecurity makes us build them in such a way as to doom them to our own biological sentence. Thus, just as the best robot is not one that walks on two legs like an anthropomorph, nor should the best technologies for visual perception be limited by the visible spectrum. I'm thinking of the inventors of photography. In their photochemical trial-and-error process they perhaps had no choice but to gauge their successes according to the capacity of reproducing things as

they appeared. Would the notion of a technique that revealed the presence of invisible luminosities have crossed their minds? Did they experience the giddiness of wanting to see "more" or were they simply moved by the ambition to reproduce? The goal was for familiar objects to appear with their usual attributes of shape and light. A mirage of ordinariness guided technology, an affectation that has infected, since then, the exploration of the invisible. Photography sometimes seems to lay claim to the objectivity that the eye relinquished several centuries ago. We may be following in the footsteps of the empirical philosophers, trusting only what we may comprehend, or frame. Or we might have leamed to orient ourselves in the blurry zone where neither sight nor reason holds sway. Thresholds. We move over them like mountain climbers, securing support points, calibrating and triangulating our measurements. Upwards. Downwards. In every direction. With instruments we see the flea's eye, the lens in the flea's eye, the nerve behind the lens in the flea 's eye ... one day we might see what the flea sees. Exploration continues. We use images like a logbook. The changing seasons are astounding . But that is all they are. Places of passage. And I keep running after my sister. I rr. R. M oszka

(NATURAL) HISTORY OF THE EYE Francisco Vergara Silva Time and light In a moment of public intimacy, the photographer's eye works with the camera to create a bridge between the photons of the physical world and the unknowable processes of the unconscious. We can thus understand the reason for the existence of so many metaphors describing the eye as a camera, and vice-versa: the neurophysiologist's concept of the 9

eye as a camera, and the artist's conception of the camera as an eye. But this narrative space of conceptual brotherhood and functional equivalencies is not the exclusive domain of camera and eye alone. There is another doma in, predetermined by an element as basic as light, but whose relationship to light has yet to be unraveled: time. If we take them on their own -as if they were objects on the shelves of an imaginary and obsessive anatomist, or in a photographer's attic,- the camera and the eye emerge in their true colors. On one hand, we see that the camera is a product of recent and fortunate technical innovations in the West; the eye, on the other hand, is the result of millions of years of chance and necessity- to paraphrase Jacques Monod- operating upon substrata of genes, cells, and animal tissues. But if we look at the camera and the eye not as ahistorical objects but as products of a dialectical development, we discover another common element: around each of these "organs of sight" we can construct a narrative pertaining to its origin and evolution. It would not be sensible to recount the story of the photographic camera, its invention and development, in this essay; but in contrast we can fruitfully highlight some aspects of the story of the eye and its place in nature. The Natural History of the Eye The photographic camera presupposes man and his peculiar style of cognition. But the existence of visual structures as a "given" -their ontology, to use a term from analytical philosophy- does not presuppose Homo sapiens or any of his natural ancestors. In fact, photoreceptors and their structures are age-old in the natural sciences. For centuries, the eye was considered one of the last bastions of non-emancipated epistemology: the eye was a clear example of "the


hand of God," and it was thus seen

to achieve a variety of intermediate

as a creation that had existed for thousands of years on Earth. Even in

stages of aggregation of ce lis and photoreceptors in order to form

rationalist accounts on the organic world, vision was considered an example of structural perfection,

"eyespots" . These spots gradually formed three-dimensional structures housing all necessary components to transform a luminous stimulus into a

which supported -directly or indirectly- the theories of sensorial perception, the construction of reality, and the Cartesian model of the mind. Later, Darwin and Wallace laid the foundation for the first satisfactory naturalist account of life, and they accepted the genealogical relationships between organisms and their structures. Despite this, Darwin dismissed as "intuitively absurd" the notion that the vertebrates' eye

biochemical process, and, eventually, into a neurological event. Among the final " designs" that were naturally selected, we find the camera-like eye of the vertebrates, whose structure closely resembles that of the octopus, the squid and other cephalopods. We also find the insect's visual system consisting of multiple ommatidia, as well as the eyes of certain mollusks, containing reflective mirrors. In 1977, Salvani-Plawen and Mayr published a quantitative estimate of the number of independent evolutionary events that had contributed to the diversity of ocular

Thus, the eye of the deep-water fish would have been formed, ever so gradually, according to that species' exclusive needs and opportunities. The same goes for the respective systems of the bird, the primate and the worm. Thus, the elements common to different types of eyes are limited to a more general function - receiving the light from the external world and interpreting it in a way conducive to survival and reproduction . Finally, in similarities due to adaptation to the same "visual ecological niche" -in other words, in cases where different species of animal are required to " see the same attributes of the world"- such common elements would also be reflect-

-<apable of automatically adjusting focus at different distances, admitting differing quantities of light, and correcting chromatic and spherical errors- developed according to natural selection. The twentieth-century

structures. They came to the conclu-

ed in the anatomy, but not in genetics or embryology. After many years of certainty that the different "answers to the problem of sight" in nature were the exclusive outcome

developed the concept of the world introduced by the naturalists of the

sion that photoreceptive organs originated independently in at least

of natural selection and were independent of ocular variations, this

nineteenth century, and finally superseded -at least in scientific terms- all explanations of the natural world based upon the intervention of an immaterial " designer." We thus arrived at a coherent and natural view of the events and conditions

forty - and possibly as many as sixtyfive- distinct evolutionary lines. According to the neo-Darwinian account of the origin and evolution of the eye -which can be applied to any morphological structure- the process of natural selection of ocular variations is also a process of adaptation to "what can be seen." The neoDarwinian position further postulates that each " design" of the eye allows the animal to "see what it needs to see, and see it in the best manner possible." If all of the instances of

view was suddenly abandoned. This event was brought about by research -in a field of experimental biology known as developmental molecular

that were absolutely necessary for writing the history of the animal eye. This ontological account of the eye was derived from an epistemology that is often called neo-Darwinian beca use of the many changes in scientific theories introduced after the publication of The Origin of 5pecies. In A 5hort History of the Mind, Nicholas Humphrey recounts the neo-Darwinian story of the evolution of the eye: It all began with a primitive amoeboid or vermiform organism armed with a few photoreceptive molecules. Gradually, variations of this organism appeared which led to the different "designs" of the eye we now observe in nature. Humphrey's account stresses that to arrive at these designs, it was first necessary

adaptation to a specific visual function are in accordance with the global lifestyle of the class of animal in question, then a reasonable corollary of the neo-Darwinian story of the eye postulates the construction -also gradual and independent- of individualized embryological and genetic mechanisms. These mechanisms have produced -{ยกver millions of years, and in the context of the typical ontogeny of each evolutionary line - the corresponding kind of eye. 10

genetics- undertaken in the past decade by Walter Gehring at the Basel University Biocenter in Switzerland. In 1993, Gehring and his team were working with mutant drosophi/ia me/anogaster (the so-called fruit fly) . They discovered that a certain protein, acting as a transcriber -it regulated the activity of other genes, a function that is fundamental to the correct development of the compound eye in this dipterous specieswas extremely similar in its molecular structure to the proteins codified by the Pax-6 ("small eye") gene belonging to the mouse genome and the aniridia (" iris-Iess"), belonging to the human genome. Since -as we mentioned above- the absence or malfunctioning of this genetic locus in Drosophilia produces ocular defects that can be as serious as the complete absence of ocular structures,


the Swiss researchers called this DNA sequence "eyeless." Gehring and his colleagues then realized that scientifically accepted ideas about the evolution of the eye may have been mistaken, but they did not want to come to hasty conclusions. The following year, the Swiss team conducted experiments in which the "eyeless" gene was induced at anatomical sites on the fly where there are usually no eyes. They were able to generate perfectly formed ocular structures that presented the same biochemical and physiologica l characteristics as an eye with ordinary ommatidia. In 1995, these same researchers used the conventional techniques of genetic engineering to successfully insert Pax-6 and aniridia into the Drosophilia embryo. They found that genes introduced in this way led, in a manner indistinguishable from the original sequence, to the ontogenetic development of typical anthropoid eyes. This kind of genetic experimentation may seem scandalous to the average person -something akin to "playing God"- but not to the visual artist with an open mind, who suddenly discovers that the surreal image of a myriad all-seeing eyes can now exist in reality. Beyond what these scientific facts may suggest to the artist's imagination, the prospects opened up by the above-mentioned experimental work in the epistemology of the natural sciences -which no doubt provide a context for thinking about human nature- simultaneously complement and subvert the traditional neo-Darwinian account on the natural history of the eye, which was no longer natural or intuitive. According to this alternative perspective, the multiple and independent "designs" of the eye are now seen not as gradual processes of adaptation of each animal species to a different ocular structure, but rather as the result of " phylogenetic inertia." The fact that

the above-described genes are found in such diverse organisms suggests that their origin dates to a very ancient common ancestor, an organism that lived at least 550 mili ion years ago, during the Cambric period. AII species of animal derive their bodily make-up from this organism, and it is reasonable to postulate that all of them possess an intrinsic potential to form photoreceptive structures with varying degrees of anatomical complexity. The research

contrast, we can now assert that, aside from other neo-Darwinian natural evolutionary forces, the mechanisms of molecular evolution and the dynamic systems of genetic regulation commanded by " master regulatory genes" preceded and surpassed in importance (for generating the diversity of living beings) the visual structures of animals. This new account of the eye and its place in nature is limited by two factors. On the one hand, the

undertaken by Gehring and other scientists -which can be considered as a blueprint for a post-Darwinian school of biology- showed that eyes appeared, in over seventy-five instances, suddenly, and not gradualIy, through the process of evolution . Only after this point, as if by chance, did the eye become the object of natural selection. On a geological scale, the time it has taken for eyes to appear in the world has been shorter than a blink. Post-Darwinian appendix For centuries, the West has created narratives to describe the complexity of organisms, until it arrived at a particular mode of scientific account in which natural selection was the only force capable of determining the origin and modifying the development of aH biological attributes. In

anatomical make-up of the different classes of animal nervous systems have also been constructed, in an evolutionary aspect, through multipie interrelations among groups of genes such as the "eyeless". On the other hand, this type of genetic loei are capable of directing the development of complex anatomical structu res thanks to their abstract attributes as systems of elements with their own threshold of mutual interactions. Research on such formal properties has been informed by widely accepted theories -<haos theory and complex-system theory. Such experiments have begun to show that any type of ceH can be considered an attractor (a steady state of genetic expression), and that the ontogeny of morphological structures in practi-

11


cally every living being exhibits the typical characteristics of self-organizing, inherently coherent processes. Thus, if the organs of human cognition -the brain and all the sensesemerged from age-old processes similar to the account of the eye we have presented in this essay, then we must ask: Is there some hidden connection between the body and the psyche? What is the concrete, primeval origin of the human ability to create symbols? And finally, is cognition, in all its varieties, an epiphenomenon of the material

interaction among ONA sequences determined by abstract, mathematically definable prope~ies? Picasso said, "Nature and art are two different things, and thus cannot be the same." In this sen se, the Histories of the Eye created by Bataille and of Rivera have no direct relation with the ontology of the eye, other than in a boundless metaphorical space. Even attempts to transfer the most private impulses onto physical matter -as in the photographic print- are limited in time by the continuum of light. Would it be possible -at least as a metaphor for the future- to think of the unconscious and physical matter as one and the same? ITr. T. Gower ond R. Gaflo

THE OBJECT STARES BACK. On the Nature of Seeing. James Elkins o When I say, "Just looking," I mean I am searching, I have my "eye out" for something. Looking is hoping, desiring, never just taking in light, never jus taking in light, never mereIy collecting patterns and data. Looking is possessing or the desire to possess -we eat food, we own objects, and we "possess" bodiesand there is no looking without thoughts of using, possessing, repos-

sessing, owning, fixing, appropriating, and stealing. I cannot look at anything -any object, any personwithout the shadow of the thought of possessing that thing. Those appetites don't just accompany looking: they are looking itself. o John Pecham, a medieval scientist who thougt long and hard about seeing, came to the conclusion that in order for vis ion to work, it must hurt just a little. "The action of the visible object on the eye," he wrote, "is painful. " o The photograph is the crossroad of this pain. Every photograph is a little sting, a small hurt inflicted on its subject, but even more: every glance hurts in some way by freezing and 12

condensing what's seen into something that it is noto o Is it possible to think of something we want to see but that we cannot visualize? Can we have an idea of something and fail to form an image of it? And most interesting of all, can we have an image of something - an actual image or an imagined oneand fail to see it? o There is a provocative theory about these questions, proposed by the surrealist George Bataille. He said that there are three things that cannot be seen, even though they may

be right in front of our eyes: the sun, genitals, and death. F,agments f,om The Objed S/ares 8ock. On /he Na/ure al Seeing by James Elkins.

USA: Ha,caurt Brace, 1996

OCTOBER 9, 1676. H. Oldenburg. Secretary of the Royal Society "In the year 1675, around midSeptember (finding myself busied by the study of air which I had greatly compressed by means of water), I discovered living creatures in rainwater that had remained for a few days in a vat that had once been painted blue. This observation led me to more closely study this water, especially since these small animals


appeared, to my eyes, to be more than ten-thousand times smaller

continues; and I have seen hundreds

than the animalcule that Swam-

of animalcules, tightly clustered around just a few filaments, within

merdam has drawn and to which he

the space of a large grain of sand." /

has given the na me of Water Flea or

Tr. R. Moszka

Water Louse, and which one can

°Description of a vorticelfa, in letter

observe living and moving about in water with the naked eye. "Concerning the first kind (of

# 18 by Mr. Antony van Leeuwenhoek. This letter appears incomplete in Philosophical

green or navy blue) were mixed with the syrup so as to create a contrast with the aqueous medium. The holder of the syrup container was moved ever so slightly -sometimes only once, sometimes continuously for a period of time- in order

Tronsactions, Vol. XII, N- 133, pp. 821-831 ,

to increase the turbulence effects

1677.

and thus achieve more easily visible patterns.

animal) that I had discovered in the

Once the desired patterns were

aforementioned water, I was able to

DENSITY OSClLLATOR

note after several observations that their bodies consisted of 5, 6, 7 or 8

Pável Real

formed, they were photographed with a 50 mm Minolta macro lens.

very light-colored corpuscles, though I could not distinguish any type of

By means of a simple setup we were able to observe the flow of a column

The setup was lit with two studio lamps placed overhead at a 45·

membrane or skin which would hold

of diluted (medium density) com

angle. To enhance contrast we used

them together or enclose them. When these animalcules moved they

syrup in an aqueous medium. This

a black backdrop.

dynamic flow tends to oscillate due

Dr. Pável Real. Physics Department, Science

sometimes extended two small horns, which moved constantly like a

to the difference in hydrostatic pressure between the fluids . To be able

horse's ears. The section between

to watch the (upward as well as

these small horns was flat, and the

downward) flow we sought to estab-

animals' bodies rounded, except for

lish the proper dilution so as to cause

an extended, tapered posterior

the column of syrup to flow down-

extremity, whose pointed tip feat-

ward. We were thus able to see that,

ured a tail almost four times as long as the whole body and which seemed as thick, when viewed through a microscope, as a strand of spider web. "The tip of this tail bears a small ball, the size of a one of the body's corpuscles. I was unable to see whether this tail was used by the creature to move about in the clear water. These animals are the most pitiful creatures I have ever seen, because when they touch some par-

after a brief initial interval (approximately five minutes), the column seemed to disappear and water began flowing upward into the smaller container. We could observe this phenomenon by looking through the upper part of the higher-density medium. It is interesting to observe the patterns formed in the downwardflowing column : lines or columns alternating with fractal structures,

Faculty, UNAM. I Tr. R. Moszka

MARIANNA DELlEKAMP: ORGANIC INTIMACY Luz María Sepúlveda This is the eyeboll That now encompasses the entire bady.

Paul Virilio, The Art of the Motor. Marianna Dellekamp's series, Body Fluids (Mexico City, 1968), deals with a certain mystery of procreation; the fluids she depicts are specifically human body fluids and are identified as being vital signs: liquids flow, they condense, they filter, they spill or emerge from a living, permeable body. The photographs that make up this organic mosaic "deal with a recognition of internal space ... the

ticles or small filaments (of which

small bubbles, more complex patterns of turbulence which tend to

there are many in the water, es pecially if it has been kept for several

disperse laterally. At the point at which the downward-flowing col-

days), they get entangled in them;

umn hits the wall of the larger con-

and then they contract their body into an oval, and struggle forcibly,

tainer a parabolic vortex is formed due to the speed of the column's

stretching themselves out to free their tail; then their whole body con-

flow.

attractive to look at - both in the context of the colors and textures

The experiment was set up in the following manner: a small con-

achieved- the narrative into which we find ourselves hurled is full of

tainer filled with corn syrup diluted with water (2:1) was partially sub-

very unflattering or even sinister associations. This is true in the case

merged in an aquarium containing distilled water. In order to clearly

of depictions of encephalorachidian liquids, tracheobronchial secretion or

observe the patterns formed, a few drops of Vinci paint (fluorescent

urine, whilst the other liquids are "clean", such as saliva, semen, moth-

tracts towards the back, towards the tail's ball and their tails coil like a snake's, like a copper or iron wire, tightly wound like a cylindrical rod, and then extended, while all of its loops remain intacto This stretching and contracting motion of the tail

13

liquid-based construction of the body", explains the artist. There is something a little disconcerting beneath Marianna's work: whilst the images are incredibly


er's milk or blood. Unintentionally, a hierarchy is established in which certain liquids such as tears, purify, whereas others dirty (vomit, pus or menstrual blood). Moreover, in the last year Marianna has based her work on freely interpreting medical images, mainly those of the internal part of the human body. She works with photographs that start off in a hospital laboratory, which she then scans, plays with on the computer and turns into the product of an artistic study. Through these images, Dellekamp begins a new line of questioning on the view of the human body, after almost two

body's internal machinery. In this series of digital photographs she recreates an environment that originates in a microscopic world -the depiction of an ulcer, the details of part of the colon, the inner part of the eye. What results resemble a macrocosm : the images of the most hidden places of our organism seem like planets or moons gravitating in space. The more medical science reaches for perfection and the closer its relationship with modern day technology, the more common it is to carry out on the body what up until recently was considered unethical, i.e. endocolonization. The body can

BLACK ART lean Clair X-rays have not only assisted in the diagnosis of fractures or in the removal of foreign objects from the body. They have also helped banish from our collective imagination those ancient skeletons, skulls and bones that, from Ligier Richier to ValdĂŠs Leal and even in Robertson's surreal fantasies, had nourished an entire chapter of our aesthetic sensibility with the concept of the "macabre." It is true however that it had already beco me somewhat obsolete: Wiertz, in his Bella Rosina, brings a smile to our faces . Bocklin, nevertheless, seemed to have spurred a revival. This iconography had also given rise to a more serious issue: from DĂźrer to Otto Dix, from Philippe de Champagne to Beckmann, meditations on the calavarium have shed

decades of public attention focused on external appearance. The images from both Body Fluids, and The Tampered Body, arouse questions with regards to the concept of portraits and the traditional idea of personal identity. Since the sixties, when Rauschenberg used X-rays to make lithographs of his skeleton, many artists such as Mona Hatoum, Gary Schneider, lĂąigo Manglano-Ovalle and lustine Cooper, to mention but a few, have made use of scientific techniques that examine the inside of the body for artistic purposes. These include blood tests, an endoscope, magnetic resonances or a DNA reading. The diagnosis offered by medical science is turned into material with which artists confront concepts of the human body, external appearance and intimacy. Marianna focuses on the

be colonized by miniature synthetic organisms. Nowadays the most relevant technological innovations are not being carried out in the vast and infinite space of a planetary or cosmic world, but in the tiny space of our internal organs, our viscera, the ce lis that constitute the living tissue of our organs. In Marianna's images, the intrusion of intraorganic technology and micro-machines into the very heart of a living being is a step towards the visually poetic (red spheres floating on a black background). They are an invitation to a world of intimacy and withdrawal in which spectators are not bothered by the confrontation with something that is part of their existence. Rather they let themselves be enveloped in an organic world that provides them with a closer link to their vital makeup. / Tr. C. Hughes 14

their black light on our fears and hopes, and radiography has not yet managed to mitigate them . One of the most startling scenes in The Magic Mountain is the one in which, after having taken an X-ray, the doctor exhorts the author to look at his own hand against the screen: "And Hans Castorp saw what he should have expected, but definitely what no man has any reason to see, and he never would have thought that he might have seen it; he saw his own grave. He saw the future work of decay [ ... ] with a visionary's penetrating eyes and for the first time in his life, he understood he would die.'" This passage bears an amazing likeness to a famous Edvard Munch lithograph, dated 1895, probably made a few months after the artist had seen the first pictures taken by Rontgen in December of that year, which were hastily published in newspapers. The figure's bust is rendered in classic fashion but the right hand appears behind an X-ray screen, skeletal.


While Rontgen rays dispelled ancient lears linked to the inner body, they at once gave rise to a much more irremediable clinical vision 01 death and all the while lostered other superstitions and beliels. II X-rays, invisible to the eye, were capable of probing through the body, then were there not countless other rays,' imperceptible to our senses, whose traces would someday surely be registered by some device and wh ich would elucidate heretolore unexplained phenomena? While the ancient ars moriendi was deprived of its colorful vignettes, a hidden nebula -born out 01 the Naturphilosophie which, Irom Swedenborg to the Baron 01 Reichenbach, purported to explain the workings of the world and of humans by the influence 01 some obscure rays- saw its illusions confirm ed to a certain extent. Gradually deprived 01 its sensory substrate by the progress 01 Science while the latter explained its inclinations, Art lound the way to lill the void. X-rays, to which unlimited therapeutic powers had initially been attributed - the same had happened with electricityhad demonstrated, along with certain other scientilic techniques, lor instance multi-dimensional geometry and chronophotography that visual art no longer had a reason for being. Thus, it had to encounter its path in the invisible.! Tr. Richard Moszka Notes: 'Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, Pl aza y lan茅s, 1974. ' Besides Baron Reichenbach's Od, remember the researches and speculations about N路 rays and P路 rays, etc. Jean elair, Elogio de lo invisible. Fundamentos

imaginarios de la ciencia (Trans. from French to Spanish by M.D. Aguilera), Barcelo na: Seix Barral, 1999.

IMAGING Ram贸n Ponte This article aims to give a brief overview 01 the technology radiologists like mysell use in order to

obtain images of the human body. These images enable us to lind out about the state 01 organs and in this way determine the state 01 the patient. As doctors we should of course bear the clinical history and diagnosis in mind, but aboye all we should consider how the patient him- or hersell is leeling. Up until recently, our specialization was known as "radiology" as x-rays were the imaging tool we used, but now with the advent 01 other technologies to produce images, the term is simply called "imag ing." Fascination for the human body dates back long ago - signs 01 interest can be seen in the most ancient

01 cultures; in Egypt lor instance, or within our continent, in the Mayan and Aztec cultures. Dissections 01 the human body lead by the Belgian doctor Andreas Vesalius marked great medical advances although all these studies were carried out on corpses, or on people with terminal illnesses whose bodies were sooner or later to beco me corpses. The discovery and study 01 Xrays in 1895 by German physician Wilhelm Comad Rontgen set a landmark in the history and study 01 the human body. His discovery was no coincidence as at that time in many other parts 01 the world various researchers were also working with cathode-ray tu bes, studying their various characteristics and applications. Rontgen decided to study certain properties, namely their capacity to pass through the black boxes he used as screens. By experimenting 15

with these rays in the dark, the researcher noticed that a plate with barium cyanide platinum salts lit up and beca me Iluorescent. He decided to investigate lurther with different materials and densities. Unaware 01 their nature he decided to give them the name "x-rays." It is worth noting that although Rontgen used his own body for his research work, it was his wile Bertha's hand that acquired lame, becoming the protagonist of the first ever radiography of the human body. Another detail that reveals the mentality of the physicist is that when a newspaper reporter asked him "What were your thoughts upon discovering the X-ray

phenomenon?" Rontgen replied in a manner that in my opinion is very to the point, "1 didn't have thoughts, I just investigated!" The scientist described several properties of Xrays, and as a symbol 01 his generosity, rather than patenting his discovery, donated it to mankind by disseminating it in various scientilic publications. Rontgen received the 1901 Nobel Prize in Physics lor his discovery. From the publication 01 his work, applications 01 X-rays began. This was relatively easy as the cathode-ray tubes were to be lound in almost all research laboratories in the world and were on sale in various countries that manulactured them. In this way, as soon as the principies were made public, their use in different applications spread quickly. One 01 the first devices to arrive in Mexico, just a few months after


the discovery, was brought by Luis

tion, and in their path may bounce

Espinoza and Cuevas, originally from the city of San Luis Potosí. Espinoza

or increase or decrease in power. AII

in imaging, that of "magnetic reson-

this information is received by the

ance." As the image-generator, the

quartz crystal and is then converted into an electrical current; finally, the

patient is placed inside a machine, which consists of a large tunnel-

had acquired it in Germany for his brothers, Javier and José María, both amateur photographers, thinking that maybe it would be useful for them to have an novel apparatus that could produce a new type of

recent and revolutionary technology

information is processed with the aid

shaped magnet. The body experi-

of a computer programo The image appears on a screen in the form of

ences a magnetic field, where all the

black and white dots, perceived by

hydrogen protons that form part of the molecule of the body's water

photographic plate. There is still a

the human eye in fourteen shades of

(eighty percent of the composition

plate in the Faculty of Medicine in the University of San Luis Potosí with

gray, according to the speed and distance of the sound waves (the echo

of the human body) are directed in all directions that the magnetic field

a woman's foot in a boot from those

phenomenon). In this way, these

aligns. Upon passing a wave of radio

days that, like all serious artists, the Espinoza brothers had signed at the

series of dots represent the organs

frequency, the protons lean to one

under study, rendering a very precise image that can bear different forms

side and, upon stopping this wave

bottom. For a time, the use of x-rays in the medical world was limited to bones, lungs and heart. It was not until the first years of the twentieth century when the study of arteries, and digestive and urinary tracts

-transversal, longitudinal and oblique. Yet another new technology is "computerized topography." In this case, the x-ray generating tube

began in different parts of the world,

device features the novelty that it moves around the human body. In

by administering radio-opaque sub-

this way, the computer system

stances (contrast mediums), that

receives the signals of the intensity of the rays that cross the parts of the

another great contribution in the study of the human body was made. Despite the fact that wars are undoubtedly terrible occurrences

body under study and displays them on a screen. In comparison with that generated with the ultrasound, the

that affect the whole world, they have brought about certain benefits.

image obtained through this technology is much clearer, with the ben-

Proof of this, to mention but one

efit that the images can be postprocessed using the original specific

paradox, are the advances in technical surgery. The world saw a revolution in the field of imaging, not only in our specialty but in other fields as well. This was thanks to the adaptation of sonar technology (the device

return to the original alignment, at speeds that depend on the density of

program and the anatomical parts under study can be represented in different formats: axial, sagittal, coronal, and even three-dimensional. "Images through nuclear medi-

the tissues. In turn, these waves generate other radio frequency waves that are captured by special antennas, registered by the system and represented in images, on a scale of

used for detecting submarines), which is based on the phenomenon

cine" makes use of cellular physiology, as well as that of the tissues

black and white, whieh depending on its composition emulate different densities of the tissues in very fine

of the echo and the transmission of sound waves through human tissues.

and body organs, capturing substances marked with radioactive isotopes, which can be detected or

advantage of being able to be represented in a multi-sectional array.

From this applieation followed another form of image diagnostic,

traced with a gamma camera . With

structural detail. There is also the

It is through these new technologies that imaging technicians are

the "ultrasound," which consists in ultrasonic waves generated in a

a suitable computer program, the studied organ is represented

quartz crystal that dilate and contract when an electrical current is

through images that provide us with information referring to totality,

applied. In this way, when used on certain parts of the body, these ultrasonie waves are transmitted through

morphology and functioning . The clarity of these images is very different to that acquired through the

ation that is the human body. / Tr. C.

the tissue at a speed that varies depending on the latter's composi-

previous methods. Finally, we shall look at the most

Department, ABe Hospital.

16

able to look at the marvels of the human body, its forms, structures, and functions, and in this way enjoy knowledge of this great work of creHughes Dr. Ramón Ponte, Head of the Imaging


eHI LlGHT

The first time I heard someone talk about acupuncture was in 1970, at the IMSS National Health Center in Mexico City, where I working as a medical resident. I attended a lecture given by a delegation of Chinese doctors at the main auditorium, which was packed with doctors with varying ranks and specializations. Most of the audience wore white uniforms, and sorne of us -medical residents- even carne with our stethoscope hanging from our shirt. The audience waited for the lecture

two, the experts were about to explain acupuncture -a therapy that until then had been surrounded by speculations. As the lecture began, the audience's reactions ranged from those who considered acupuncture as a means of psychological control used by Chinese communists, to those who hailed it as the most modern treatment for cancer. Three Chinese doctors -whose names are too difficult to repeat- were introduced to us as surgeons who used acupuncture as an anesthetic during surgery. One of these doctors attempted to explain in broken and incomprehensible English the theory

shown a color film, which showed a surgical procedure being performed on a Chinese woman: as the surgeons removed the woman's gall bladder, an acupuncturist rotated several needle's inserted into the patient's foot. We were surprised when the camera focused on the woman's face and we saw that she was awake: a nurse fed her orange slices which she proceeded to swallow -she was fully conscious- while her stomach was open in a canal. These images were repeated over and over again: the camera moved from the open wound and the surgery performed according to the

to begin, and an atmosphere of heavy academicism filled the auditorium. It was impressive to find in the audience sorne of the Health Center's most famous doctors: brilliant minds of the Mexican health system, together with our supervisors and professors, all of whom greeted each other with the embrace so common in our culture: a tight hug followed by three friendly slaps on the back. This event was important for two reasons: One, this was among the first delegations of doctors to arrive in Mexico from the People's Republic of China (which had only recently been admitted to the World Health Organization, following the United Nation's official recognition of that nation with almost one billion inhabitants); and

behind acupuncture. No one seemed to understand anything. His account of Ying and Yang and the duality governing the human body, as well as his references to the circulation of "Chi energy" left us all astonished. The doctor then showed ancient drawings (sorne carne from books that were over one thousand years old) showing the human body divided by parallel lines into "points" into which the surgeon inserted large needles in order to "induce" the desired anesthetic effect. After he concluded his talk, our Chinese colleague was greeted with an unenthusiastic applause that betrayed the audience's general reaction: a complete indifference and lack of understanding. A few minutes later, the lights were dimmed and we were

technique familiar to Western doctors, to the patient's feet and legs, full of needles, and then to the woman's discrete smile. She seemed entirely unperturbed by what was happening . The tense sil en ce that had filled the auditorium was broken when sorne of the great masters of Mexican medicine began yelling "Enough with that circus!" or "What a bunch of lies." The rest of the audience followed with even more insolent exclamations that culminated with a call to leave the room. Doctors began to leave as other called for calm and still others protested in favor or against the mass exodus. The screening was cut short, and I found myself sitting in a half-empty hall, while the conference organizers gave all kinds of explana-

Xavier Lozoya

17


tions and offered apologies to the

recent advances in the field of

"ah!" And everything continues as

Chinese visitors, who proceeded to

acupuncture. I skipped several ses-

usual. / Tr. T. Gower ond R. Gallo

pack their papers and materials into briefcases that seemed as old as

sions devoted to herbal medicine -a

Chinese silk. The next few days were filled with endless comments about the " Chinese circus." leven heard some respectable doctors claim that this was merely a form of collective hypnosis developed by the fanatics of the Cultural Revolution, and that it

grave sin, since I was giving a talk on the subject- so that I could attend

Xavier Lozoya is a researcher at the Laboratory for Medicina l Plants at the Unit for Research in Neurological Disorders at the IMSS National Health Center in Mexico City.

the talks on acupuncture. I heard a paper by Dr. Lin Xian-She, a surgeon who specialized in acupuncture and

THE CYBORG'S IMPERCEPTIBLE

was younger than 1. He showed pho-

Antonio Caronia

SERIAL-NESS

tographs of hands, feet, and legs divided by luminous lines, which - 1

In heeding Hoffmanstahl's clever

discovered- corresponded to the

advice, we will not, however, offend

amounted to nothing but a pseudo-

" meridians" found in ancient draw-

the surface by considering it devoid

scientific method for keeping Communist societies under control. The

ings. His talk was greeted by enthusiastic applause, and the speaker, fol-

of any depth . Notwithstanding the fact that sensory-ness, apparently

neurologists and neurophysiologists

lowing a custom prevalent in Communist countries, was forced to

even more mysterious and buried in

who had been my professors were a bit less virulent: they believed that

clap towards the audience in order

the body's (or the being 's, to use the ontological term) deepest strata, cannot manifest itself if it does not

the secret behind acupuncture con-

to thank them for such an enthusias-

sisted in blocking certain nerves by

tic response . That afternoon I talked

means of an electric stimulus, which in turn unleashed a cascade of

with Dr. Lin, who explained in greater detail what he had shown in

pheromones, neuropeptides, or

his talk. The biophysicists in his

some other substance. After all, we

research team had combined Kirlian

were living at a time in which every week brought the discovery of a new chemical produced by the nerv-

photography -a technique which by then had fallen out of favor- with ultraviolet light to create a computer

ous system. I asked about the "meridians" -the parallel lines divid-

procedure capable of detecting an almost imperceptible beam of light

ing the human body- but my professors replied that these did not

- Chi energy- as it traveled trough

exist; they believed it was merely the Iymphatic system or even the nerv-

the collagen molecules aligned under the skin to form acupunctural "meridians." A needle is inserted into

ous system that had not been drawn

some of the "s paces" in the canal,

rise to the surface. We are co n-

accurately. And everything continued as usual.

which are called "points," and this procedure " stimulates" the flux of

demned to learning, feeling, suffering through surface contacts. It is

Twenty years la ter, in 1990, I attended a conference on Ethnic Medicine in Kumming, a city in the

Chi energy, thus allowing doctors to document its movement through the

People's Republic of China . Things had changed: I had become a highranking researcher at the IMSS (Mexican Institute for Social Security), a member of the National Association of Researchers, and the head of a research center at the IMSS. I was no longer studying neur- ophysiology, and I had now turned to medicinal plants. The conference was called "The Challenges of Scientific Research in the TwentyFirst Century", and, for the second time, I was able to learn about

human body. A photograph of my hand with the "meridian" of the small intestine was made following this procedure, and was given to me by Dr. Lin . For years I have treasured this present with deep gratitude. I framed this photograph and hung it next to a bookcase in my office at the National Health Center in

not a very painful limitation . The modern era's geometry, that of Torricelli and Cavalieri, also tells us that a solid can be thought of as a series of surfaces piled up one on top of another. Theoretically, the number of these surfaces is infinite, just as the instants contained within a brief lapse of time are infinite. In practice, however, for the purpose of understanding and acting upon the world, we draw from these infinite series a

Mexico City. Upon seeing the photo, several of my colleagues have asked me about it. I always answer by telling them the story of the

finite number of surfaces and a finite number of instants: only upon these may we base our work. The sense of

" Chinese circus," and, until now, they invariably respond with a mere

continuity (the conti nuity of bodies, the continuity of time) is no more

18


than a cognitive, pragmatic sleight-

Though he considers himself far

of-hand performed by our species,

removed from the neo-academic

a pretext. Rather, to recall its materi-

an illusion of compatibility and

genre that has rediscovered a certain vein of "painting," he is just as

ality, he resorts to the discreet, sur-

"extension" allowing us to ignore the unbearable separation, the dis-

removed from any search for inno-

For Mat Mabo, the body is never

prising insertion of that small "artificial" discard, that inanimate metal-

creet and eventually distressing abyss

cence, authenticity, or vindication of

which exists between the 1 and the

purity in arto We should not regard

lic plate, which becomes a kind of fluctuating signifier (in LĂŠvi-Strauss's

2, the 2 and the 3, and so forth.

as conceit the stubborn ha bit which

sense of the expression) nonchalantly

leads him to create lost " originals"

placed wherever it may have fallen.

self-evident in painting, since in this

(which we will never be able to see);

Then this plate increases in size and

discipline we are forced to consider

we should not interpret as minimal-

beco mes a screen of liquid crystals

the " superficial" character of our per-

ism the scrupulous care he takes in

hidden by the rest of the piece's ele-

ception without altogether forgetting

building those small intrusions of

ments, to remind us that matter is

(but rather sometimes exhibiting)

red, those fantastic brushstrokes of

never inert within the body, and that

the dense, viscous quality of its main

silver paint.

the boundary between what is natu-

But all these things are perfectly

tool's material origin: color.

In his as yet short life upon this

ral and artificial is the result of con-

Moreover, it is in film that we are

earth, Mat Mabo must have leamed

stant, complex social negotiations

seemingly shown movement when

extremely refined tactics of dis-

and not an immutable, abstract fact,

in fact we are presented with no

orientation (which might not only

unrelated to culture.

..

more than 25 heartbreakingly im-

apply to art). These pieces could cer-

mobile images per second, and all

tainly be defined as "strangely ex e-

. -- .. And then, in another sense also,

the work must be done through the

cuted" but only in the sense that

Mat Mabo does not leave spectators to their own devices - he makes

connection between the retina and

their creator was concerned with the

them accomplices, hypocritical

the brain. AII this is rather obvious in the

process that separates the result from

readers, his fellow men and women, his brothers and sisters. Mat Mabo

work of Mat Mabo (although, under-

the point of departure. Sometimes it is relatively easy to discover or guess

standably, I would not know how to

which organic form lies at the basis

exactly explain in which sen se), who

of his compositions (a skull, for

prefers to leave traces of the cre-

applies varnishes and colors to material (most definitely material) sup-

instance), while in other cases it is more difficult since he has resorted

ative process. He does this, natural-

ports and inlays the wood with el u-

to the use of those false, fascinating

The fake serial-ness within his series of images is precisely a simulation of

does not want to con front them with a work as a done deed; he

Iy, in his own ironic, angry manner.

sive metallic oddities which he then

and diabolical images of our inner

photographs, retouches, re-photo-

selves (CAT-scans, MRI) which we are

the condition of the artistic pro ces s,

graphs, to which he then again applies colors and varnishes, then re-

gradually turning into the " reality" of our bodies. Viewers are always chal-

as well as a demonstration of chance, of occurrences pure and

photographs and scans into the computer. His is an exhausting strug-

lenged to carry out their hermeneutic work diligently and thorough-

simple, of playing hide-and-seek

gle of the body with the surface, of

Iy, but they are never contemptuous-

with the will. Why should that red drop be there rather than some-

experience with representation .

Iy left to their own designs.

where else? Why should that silver

19


streak be of such intensity rather

ing of short-term memory, along

effective, as they do not slow down

than another? Mat Mabo, or the

with a reduction in spatial perception

the advance of the disease. In

cyborg's inexpressibility. Irr. R.

and topographical memory, and a disorientation in time and space. The

Mexico, statistics estimate that at

Moszka

Introductory text to the exhibition cata lag 01

second phase implies a gradual

from Alzheimer's.

impairment of all aspects of memory;

Dr. Raúl Mena López

Mar Mabo (PIara + PIara)

moreover, dysphasia (lack of ability ALZHEIMER ANO MEMORY Raúl Mena lópez

least 350 000 people presently suffer

Physiology, Biophys ics and Neuroscience Department Center for Advanced Research

to understand language) is manifest,

and Studies National Polytechnic Institute,

associated with damage to the pari-

Mexico City I Tr. R. Moszka

We do not know what causes

etal lobe, which produces dyskinesia

Alzheimer's disease. However, several factors affect its development.

(impaired coordinated motor func -

OMI

tion) and agnosia (reduced se nsory

Esteban Schmelz

Approximately 10% of cases are of

perception). The third phase is distin-

genetic origin o Every day, new muta-

guished by a major impairment of all

No, OMI is not the Spanish acronym

tions are discovered in genes within

mental functions; the patient's mus-

for the Organización Mundial de

specific chromosomes (such as num-

ele tone increases, emotions become

Indigentes or World Organization for

bers 1, 14 and 21). Rather than a

conspicuously unrestrained and a

the Needy, nor anything else of that

brain disease with a single cause, we

breakdown of the personality ensues,

ilk. It is what my daughters called

are dealing with an ailment whose

to the degree that the he or she

their grandmother, as was and con-

polygenetic nature leads us to sup-

might not even be able to recognize

tinues to be customary among child-

pose that different sub-types of the

relatives or his or her own face in the

ren, grandchildren and other off-

illness existo Other risk factors that

mirror. In the final stage, the patient

spring of those who once upon a

determine the progression of Alzheimer's in adults are the aging

falls into a completely vegetative state, the effect of severe damage to

time came to these hospitable shores from far-off and already forgotten

process itself and the environment.

the cerebral cortex. The disease

German-speaking homelands. Omi,

inevitably leads to the patient's

an affectionate version of Oma, is

Alzheimer's is the most commonly occurring cause of dementia

death, within a lapse of 6 to 12

thus, in a word, the loving granny of

among the elderly. Recent calcula-

years. The definitive diagnosis is based

any self-respecting Mexican child.

tions point out that today, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, 15% of the world's population is

on an examination of brain tissue

Sara García -the famous Mexican actress who later in her career was

obtained by autopsy. However, there

typecast as a grandmother- come

States, the ailment affects over 5% of

are currently very well-defined criteria that allow living patients to be

back to life. Omi Klara -<loña Clarita as she

people over 65, and approximately 20% of people over 80.

diagnosed. Even though there is no cure for

day acquaintances-, twice widowed,

over 65 years old. In the United

Clinically, sufferers of Alzheimer's display gradual memory loss and disablement of the cognitive functions. The first phase of the disease is ch~r­ acterized by a pronounced worsen-

was known by the rest of her every-

Alzheimer's disease, there are

brooded over her lonely life in her

presently numerous treatments that

well-appointed apartment in Mexico

aim to relieve the illness' initial symptoms . However, we cannot ignore

City's Polanco neighborhood, which seemed too big to her now that she

the fact that none of these is elearly

lived there by herself. My sister and I

20


went to visit her when we could, when we managed to take time off

centration camps, as we found out years later. Hilda, her older sister,

this unspeakable violation -which would be followed by many more-of

from work and our other occupa-

who had married a Czech doctor

international law. The documented

tions; when we could overcome the

-"and a gentile" added Omi- with

remembrance of that reception, like

depression brought on by realizing

whose son Hubert, living in Bratislava, my mother still corres-

that mother was getting gradually and inexorably worse, both physicalIy and mentally. Yes, we could've gone to see her more often, that's for sure; remorse always comes when it's too late ... Weekends were the happiest of times, as I spent them with my

ponded until a few years ago. And

hundreds of photographs similar to those taken by Omi in those days, refuted any pretense by which

the bunch of aunts and uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters, in-Iaws

Austria might have alleged itself to

and other relatives whose remem-

of course does not in any way dimin-

be the first victim of Nazism . (Which

brance, after Omrs death, was forev-

ish the merit of the courageous parti-

er consigned to oblivion.

san struggle of thousands of anti-fascist Austria ns.)

The photos kept coming and so

Hitler's armies seized the small

daughters; they were also very grati-

did the stories: Opa Emilio, still burly

fying for Omi Klara, when I took her

and healthy in the years befo re we

country, and night fell over Europe.

granddaughters overoSometimes she then went all out, and for a while we

emigrated; the Sunday trip to the nearby Alps, with their lifelong bud-

Today, when more than sixty years

could even convi nce her to delight

dies; and with these same insepara-

have passed since these events, it's impossible not to feel a chill while

us with her wonderful chocolate

ble friends -or others- the classic

pudding, though she would often

party at Grinzig, on the outskirts of

witnessing how Jorg Haider, a hypocritical emulator of the F端hrer, is

claim to have forgotten the recipe.

Vienna, to taste the new wine, the

grafting himself onto the heart of the

"Are you Amanda?" she would ask.

Heuriger, from that year; "and here's

government of a-still-democratic

" No, Omi, I'm Itala," would reply the amused little brat, exchanging know-

daddy when he was two years old, riding his ferocious stuffed lion, and

Austria. The fact is that the long road to

ing glances with her sister.

there's Aunt Gerda at four, four, straddling

exile lay before us; we crossed the

Then, finally, came the dearlyawaited moment for her to show us

her transparent bedpan" (and of

whole of Nazi Germany by train to

course the most amusing part of it:

the port of Hamburg, where we

her photographs, the time to remi-

how angry Gerda was when she

nisce: from the depths of the ancient Austrian chest-of-drawers, which had

found out that such an embarrassing

boarded the last steamship from the Hamburg-Amerika Une on the route

document had been publicly dis-

to New York before the Great War

not only survived the voyage from far-off Vienna but also, amazingly

played). Other photographs, taken

at Ellis Island (reminiscences of Chaplin's The Immigrant), we were

broke out. After a compulsory stop

enough, the many grueling moves

almost clandestinely from the apart-

within Mexico City, Omi too k out the

ment on Mariahilferstrasse, which

allowed to continue on our journey:

heavy old photo albums to show the amazed little girls extensive episodes

showed Vienna bedecked with hundreds, or rather thousands of red-and-

by train through the United States to Laredo, and right on the other side,

of our family history. Thus appeared

white flags displaying the ominous

in Nuevo Laredo, Uncle Benito, my

yellowed photographs of ladies with impressive hairdos, corsets and full

black swastika, beca me the invaluable evidence of Austrian history's

father's younger brother who had come to Mexico as a young adult,

most ignoble period oA few months

over ten years earlier, awaited uso

taches, irnpassively tolerating the

earlier, to the eternal shame of the beautiful city -the cradle of sorne of

This was July 1938. Omi Klara obviously enjoyed her

comments and irreverent scrutiny of

the early twentieth century's most

their great-great-great- (or is it greatgreat-great-great) granddaughters.

illustrious musicians, artists and thinkers-, teeming hordes of

granddaughters' interest in her life. The first years in Mexico were also

Then came pictures of Omi 's loved ones; her father Heinrich, a

Viennese had given a tremendous welcome to the F端hrer, who had

diligent civil servant of the Royal and

come to take possession of his new territory, expediently re-christened

bosoms, and of stern gentlemen with asevere gaze and fierce mous-

Imperial Austro-Hungarian Railways, and also the cousin of philosopher Edmund Husserl, the father of phenomenology. Flora, her mother, who

Ostmark. The annexation, the dreaded Anschluss, had come to pass. Only Mexico had raised its voice in protest

had died at the Theresienstadt con-

before the League of Nations against 21

thoroughly documented in photographs: the bustling streets of a city that still had a human scale, the first trips to Cuernavaca or Amecameca, with the exotic, fascinating landscapes of agaves and volcanoes; the first Mexican friends, the relatives who arrived after we did, just barely escaping the holocaust; "your father,


girls, when he turned three, " Omi

or perhaps thousands, of pictures

dixit, and yes, I do remember that

that no longer meant anything to

The Tropic of Cancer is an imaginary line, which does not really start or

this was at the old country mansion

her, that spoke of nothing, since the

finish anywhere. As wide as the eye

in Tepeji del Río, where Uncle Memo

people portrayed in them had

can see or as thin as a laser beam, it

still lorded over "his" fiefdom, the La

become perfect strangers, unable to

surrounds the Earth at a latitude of

josefina textile factory, for a short

trigger even the faintest spark of

23° 27' North. Its geometric center is

while . But that's another story.

recognition in her faded memory.

the planet's rotating axis, and due to

Photos come and photos go.

Thus, years before the dreadful

the Earth's precession -its spinning

Omi was getting visibly older, her

Afghan Taliban, Omi began her fierce

movement, like that of a top about

confusion increasing; she still recog-

labor or destruction, erasing any and all traces of what had never existed ...

to fall- in reality it has no fixed loca-

nized us, yes, but without knowing for certain whether we were her children, her siblings or her parents.

One by one she tore up the photographs of her long-ago child-

And she nervously, desperately held

hood in Vienna, of the hard years of

on to her photos - which had by

the First World War which were

tion, and every 26 000 years it moves hundreds of kilometers North or South. An imaginary line means it exists merely in the imagination. It can

then become a safety rail, alife raft-

those of her adolescence, of the

nevertheless be visited should one so

in a fruitless attempt to stop her

years of study at the music school;

desire, be drawn on maps, measured

memories, out of reach, from drain-

she also tore up those silent witnes-

within centimeters with a global

ing away, like water flowing out of a

ses of her marriage to my father, the

positioning system, and outlined

bathtub. Every time we went to see

brilliant, cheerful Viennese lawyer,

with chalk as if it were part of a foot-

her, we'd find the small table in the

the memories of her children, of

ball field . It can be excavated, con-

hall littered with photos, a medley of

Vienna's heinous Nazification, and of

structed upon and navigated around .

all the years, all the characters . And

ernigration. Photos and more pho-

It is the northernmost point the Sun

all of them were dutifully labeled

tos: the first years in Mexico, my

reaches on its seasonal journey- the

with dates, names, notes notes identifying

father's death, her second marriage

hyperborean extent of the star's star's path

-sornetimes mistakenly- the people

to Uncle Benito, her children getting

as it climbs towards its zenith once a

or events represented: doubtlessly a

older, her grandchildren, Benito's

year, at summer solstice. A few steps

superhuman, desperate effort at re-

death ... none of it was true; the pho-

further north and midday shadows

collection, though she knew her

tos had to be destroyed. What loneli-

never disappear.

memory was irremediably failing her. With each new visit, the collection of

ness, Omi, what grief and sadness!

photographs on the table had

Moszka

The bathtub had drained . / Tr. R.

The Tropic of Cancer crosses seven sta tes of Mexico from East to West: Southern Baja California,

changed: new pictures had emerged

Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, San

from the cloudy past, but Omi was

Luis Potosí, Nuevo León and

losing, or had already lost, the fight

THE TROPIC OF CANCER

Tamaulipas. It leaves the American

against forgetfulness ...

Mauricio Ortiz

continent at the beach of Tepe-

your youth, of your promising career

The Tropic of Cancer is not something you

grazes Havana, touching ground on

as a pianist, of your beloved Vienna,

can see. There is no visible line declaring,

Long Island and Gran Exuma, close

so deeply cherished and yet so

" The Tropic of Cancer", like on the cover

to Watling, in the Bahamas, and

huajes, crosses the Golf of Mexico,

Oh Omi, Omi, what became of

hated, to which you had never want-

of Miller's book. No one advises you of its

ancient Guanahaní, San Salvador de

ed to return, not even for a single

whereabouts, and so it lies a few kilomet-

Colón . It crosses the Atlantic and

day! Wien, Wien, nur Du al/ein. ..

ers south of Sombrerete and another few

ends up in Africa; it struggles across

When Omi died, we found her photo albums almost totally empty,

kilometers north of Mazatlón, right in the

the Sahara, dives into the Red Sea

middle of the village of Todos Santos,

and flies over Arabia; it splits India in

pillaged . The nurse who looked after

Baja California, in the jagged branches of

two, journeys through Bangladesh,

her confessed to us that on more than one occasion she had caught

the huizache trees of the town of

Myanmar and South China, then

Guadalupe, San Luis Potosí, or in

into the Pacific, where it brushes by

Omi obstinately, bitterly tearing up

Santiaguillo, in a clearing in the Sierra of

Iwo jima and the other japanese vol-

photographs. We were then able to

Tamaulipas, which the beautiful neigh-

reconstruct how, feeling defeated by

boring town of jaumabe overlooks.

canic islands, stitching together the large islands of the Hawaiian archi-

her own failing memory, it made no

Mauricio Magdaleno, La aventura del

pelago whereby it returns to Mexico

sense to her at all to keep hundreds,

Norte, Mexican Cultural Seminar, 1963.

after a perfect circumnavigation .

22


As an invisible intemal border of

the indigenous Pericú tribe wan-

beginning of time. " Moreover, there

our country, the Tropic is outlined by a collection of souvenirs, albeit pre-

dered naked in the world. They were idolatrous and worse yet, polygam-

cariously: a lump of concrete, a white monument, an unread sign at

ous. Together with the Guaycura tri be, they were the original inhabi-

were palms, a freshwater spring, fields of oregano -it was a wonderful oasis in the middle of the deserto

the side of the road, a rusty buoy

tants of that area of the peninsula,

Facing the Pacific, Todos Santos features a rocky outcrop known as

life is richer anchored near the coast. Life down below; North starts aboye the

and the Tropic of Cancer was precisely the border between the two

Punta Lobos lobos and a long beach alongside it; a few sea leagues away

Tropic of Cancer, with the "immensity of the steppes," to quote Magdaleno.

indigenous territories. " It is extremely difficult," declares the founding m issionary, "to convince them to give

the Manila Galleon sailed by on its way to Acapulco. Not too far inland La begin the foothills of the Sierra de la

The dotted line on the world map touches Mexico in the small vil-

up the many wives they have, beca use (the tri be) has many more

lage of Todos Santos, in the southem part of the Baja Califomia Peninsula. Todos Santos started out as a travel-

women than men oSuffice to say that the most ordinary men have at least two or three." In accordance with a report from

Laguna, laguna, on top of which there was once a small lake surrounded by evergreens. The plants that grow in

ers' stopover in 1723, dependent on the Jesuit mission of Nuestra Seiiora del Pilar de la Paz. Ten years later and thanks to a generous contri bulady Rosa de la Peiia, tion from Lady cousin to the influential Marquis of

the priest José Salcedo, in 1 778 the Mission of Todos Santos had a total of 221 souls (i.e. Christians), surrounded by an unknown number of pagans. There were 36 straw huts,

Villapuente, the township acquired the category of mission and a church was built. The Italian Jesuit, Segis-

seven lots of cultivated land, two lots which could not be cultivated due to a lack of water, 40 grape vines, 30

mundo Taraval, was the founder of what came to be known as the mission of the Santa Rosa de Todos Santos, in homage of the altruistic lady. The patron of the town today is

leagues of grassland, 470 rows of sugarcane, 400 fruit trees, 1 071 cows, 338 horses, 64 mules, 71 donkeys, 35 sheep and 28 pairs of oxen. "A branch or a plant known as damiana is recommended as an aphro-

the Virgen del Pilar because monks of higher standing in the church hierarchy settled there when the La Paz was closed. Mission at la At the same time, members of

disiac and fertility-drug and is drunk as an infusion. Octogenarians who used it have bom children: it has been known and used since the

23

the sierra reveal that the tip of the peninsula has a different geological origin than its upper reaches. On the other side, on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Gulf of Califomia, there are old settlements that outline the Tropic: The Mission of Santiago and the town of Miraflores. In 1950 the reporter Femando Jordán wrote: "The ethnicity of these areas most definitely has changed. Instead of the fierce and polygamous Pericúes the region is now inhabited by white people, with practically no indigenous blood." Redheaded men and blond women with green and blue eyes and AngloSaxon names dwelled in this oasis at the end of the Earth. And then a legend appeared unexpectedly -a pirate story, a tale of full-blown romance.


The story goes that a British

into the Gulf," explains Steinbeck in

the first concerted photographic adventure involving a number of participants. The first photograph of

pirate ship raided a galleon from the

the tale of his well-known journey

Philippines, and following the attack

aboard the Western Flyer through

went up around the cape to take refuge in the waters of what is also

the waters of Baja California, "we

an eclipse, taken in Milan, was a

began to see on land the mirage we

daguerreotype made by J. A. Majocchi on July 8, 1842. In 1851,

known as the Sea of Bermejo. With

had heard about [ .. .) When you pass

the booty came a beautiful blond woman, with a smile brighter than

a cape, it splits into two, becoming a island, and thus it seems as if the

the Sun at dawn. After a few days

water reaches inside it, pressing it

daguerreotype of the total eclipse on July 28. By 1854, William and

the entire crew had fallen madly in love with her, and the fighting

into a mushroom shape, and finally

Frederick Langenheim had secured

began. The captain decided to put a quick stop to this by throwing the

pending it in the air over the sea. Even at close distance from the coast

captive overboard. The crew protest-

one cannot say what the land is

ed and the Englishman, with sword and blunderbuss in hand, offered a

like."

challenge: whoever wanted the

lifting it from the ground and sus-

From Todos Santos to Tepehua jes and back, the line along the 23°

woman should try his luck and fight

27' latitud e North is a bygone world,

him. A young man stepped forward,

a Mexico of the past, a Mexico that

also fair-haired and blue-eyed. He

might seem useless, absurd, topsyturvy. AII the same it is a minute portion Mexico, which is nothing com-

was the pirate's son. The father, feeling cornered, was unable to retract his challenge. Finally, he took a dagger from his belt and gave it to his

pared to the whole, a microscopic sa mple, a world of fantasy. The val-

son who, taking the fair-haired maid-

leys and mountains, the stones, the

en in his arms, jumped into the sea. They managed to swim ashore and

villages; the Sun 's journey, the plants

they began their new life as cast-

and animals; the stories people tell and the shelves in the El Trópico con-

aways on a desert island, giving birth

venience store; two old left shoes,

to a race of people under the date trees that the Jesuits had planted

the blue El Chinito bottles, beer cans,

years before in the oasis nearby Miraflores. The story, concludes Jordán, "is too beautiful to be true, and one must also remember that from Mulegé to the South, men 's

Dr. A. L. Busch mad e another

animal and human feces, plastic

several daguerreotype plates of the

bags; the foreboding of Trypanosoma cruzi, cause of Chagas disease, which

year in the U.S. It seems a somewhat

only affects people South of the

partial phases of the ecli pse that quaint idea today that the Moon, rather than the Sun, could be the

imaginations usually work harder

Tropic of Cancer. These are not the realities of the world, or of the country, or of the lives of men and

than their hands." In my opinion,

women . They are merely the realities

described as "rose-colored protuber-

this is fabulous world indeed. The western side of the peninsu-

of an imaginary line. / Tr. C. Hughes

ances" or as "red flames "- which were first observed by Francis Baily

la features another rocky outcrop

THE FIRST ECLIPSE PHOTOGRAPHED?

at Pavia in 1842. Warren De La Rue (1852- 1889)

another long adjoining beach. Wooden huts, cacti, scarcely populated. Like a fan opening out from the

Warren De La Rue and the British

was a Guernsey man by birth and

expedition that traveled to Spain to observe the solar eclipse of July 18,

the son of the founder of a wellknown printing firm, which still

beach, over five kilometers in length,

1860 broke new ground in many senses. Though it is not strictly true

exists. Among many other distinctions, he was twice president of the

and landmark, Cabo Pulmo, and

stretches the American Pacific coast's second largest coral reef after that of Panama. Ecological tourists and divers, mainly American, go there every year; it was declared a National Park some time ago. "The further out we ventured

origin of the spectacular prominences -then picturesquely

that this trip was the first to attempt

Chemical Society and was also the

to the photograph astronomical

president of the Royal Astronomical Society from 1864 to 1866. He

phenomenon of eclipses -some enthusiasts had already tried to do so in 1842- what is certain is that

histo.ry of astrophotography, taking

the HMS Himalaya expedition was

credible pictures of objects such as

24

occupies an important place in the


the Moon from 1852 he invented

dion process (gun-cotton dissolved

so it generated a lot of interest.

the photoheliograph, and many

in ether) announced by Frederick

When the number of participants

other scientific apparatus, and he

Scott Archer in 1851 had the poten-

involved became known, there were

contributed to the development of

tial for much improved images of

some difficulties as most naval vesseis had limited accommodation: the

chemistry. De La Rue sometimes

the corona compared with the

brings to mind Lewis Carroll 's White

daguerreotype, although he also

ratings slept in hammocks among

Knight, with his parade of useful

harbored grave doubts about the

their guns, and the only cabins avail-

gadgets of his own invention. In his

reliability of the process due to fre-

able were those of the officers.

account of the expedition he

quent imperfections in the collodi-

Reasonably civilized accommodation

described the use of a partially sil-

on-based emulsion . In a subsequent

for extra male guests, let alone

vered eyepiece that in different posi-

conversation with the Astronomer

ladies, would be very limited.

tions gave greater or lesser protec-

Royal, George Biddell Airy, in late

Eventually it was decided to allocate

tion for solar photographs. He also contrived a primitive shutter to give

1859, Airy mentioned the possibility

the troopship HMS Himalaya to the

that a naval ship might be made

expedition, because of her generous accommodation .

a short enough exposure for solar photographs. In his own account of his 1860

available for transport to Spain. Airy was a meticulous bureaucrat, known for his usually lengthy and detailed preparations for such

There was widespread interest in this important eclipse and it was not merely astronomers who availed

eclipse operations, De La Rue describes how his interest in this

events. In this case it appears that

themselves of ships to observe it;

event initiated . He made a visit to

Airy himself made the first active

HMS Hero was transporting the

Russia in 1858 and during this trip

suggestion of an expedition to the eclipse during an interview with the

VII, to Canada and was placed on

he visited Dr. Luther de K6nigsberg who showed him what is probably

Duke of Somerset, First Lord of the

the second photographic image of

Admiralty, on 15 November 1859.

an eclipse ever made. This was a daguerreotype of the total eclipse of

Their Lordships were obviously well

1851, taken with a 6.25-inch

disposed towards this suggestion and, after all, a voyage to Spain

K6nigsberg heliometer by Dr. A. L. Busch. De La Rue expressed admira-

hardly involved going to the ends of the Earth. The eclipse was a reason-

tion for Busch's efforts, but as an active protagonist of astrophoto-

ably favorable one, with a maximum

graphy he realized that the

and the land part of its track lay in an area of mostly favorable climate,

improved sensitivity of the wet collo-

duration of 3 minutes 39 seconds

25

Prince of Wales, later King Edward the central line of totality to give HRH a view. The original intention was for the observers to join the Himalaya at Portsmouth, but a change of plan resulted in a hurried circular instructing them to join her at Plymouth and the ship sailed on July 7, anchoring at Bilbao two days later. The ship landed 31 people (including four women) at Bilbao and 1 7 at


Santander, the list of those including

ment totaled 30 packages weighing

British government, which used it as

such British and foreign astronomi-

up to 1.75 tons. Moreover, De La

a troop ship 40 years . Later, in 1894,

cal notables as Captain Jacob,

Rue contrived a storage space in his

it served as a coal hulk, before finally

William Lassell, Reverend S. J.

small cabin to keep his materials as

being destroyed in 1940 by German

Perowne, Reverend Charles Prichard,

cool as possible, and even managed

dive-bombers. / Edition: JesĂşs Coss

Otto Struve, Temple Chevallier,

to set up a makeshift darkroom in

Excerpted from Peter Hingley, "The first

Professor Robert Grant and Herr

the other half of his quarters.

Ph otographic Eclipse?", Astronomy &.

Winnecke. The total of about 60

From the Kew Observatory he

Geophysics. The loum al of the Royal

mentioned by Airy would have been

borrowed a photoheliograph, the

Astronomical Society, vol. 42, issue 1,

quite a crowd in a normal warship's

first of its kind, which had designed

February 2001 .

wardroom .

and had made at the expense of the

From Bilbao, the railways -

Royal Society, to carry out Sir John

which were still under construction

Herschel's suggestion of a program

in Spain - were used to transport

of daily solar photography. The

parties of observers to various sec-

photoheliograph had a 3.5 inch

TO STOP A BOMBSHELL Among the various techniques in the armoury of the scientific photo-

tions of the path of the eclipse, Airy

aperture and a 50 inch focal length .

grapher, few have evolved to a level

papers names 27 "railway

As the Kew mounting was an

of such sophistication as high-speed

observers". Many other observers -

immovable monolith of cast iron, a

who were neither photographers

special temporary cast iron stand

photography. Yet nearly all the early high-speed attempts must now be

nor scientists - documented the

was made which is said to have

phenomenon in sketches and paint-

been left in situ in Spain as a sort of

ings.

memorial to the expedition.

Warren De La Rue deployed his

The fate of the HMS Himalaya is

personal wealth and all his ingenuity, social contacts and technical

altogether a different one. It became uneconomic to operate commercial-

presumed lost and with one exception the archives begin with galloping horses of Muybridge and the shock waves of Mach and Boys. The exception is an "instantaneous" photograph by Thomas Skaife,

skills in this operation, with histori-

Iy due to a rise in the price of coal.

best remembered for the pistol cam-

cally outstanding results . His equip-

This led to its sale, at cost, to the

era which he introduced in June

26


1856 and improved over the next

Skaife's camera in some detail:

few years. So-called instantaneous photographs at first embraced virtu-

"Within camera, and immediately behind the back combination of a

ally any photography of movement, as in crowded street scenes or ships

portrait lens, a square opening, somewhat larger than the diameter

afloat, but Skaife's photograph

of the lens, is closed by means of a

of themselves close again in a very small fraction of a second of time." Finger action was found to be too slow, and trigger key connected to rubber bands was soon substituted.

be long s to a different order. Its

pair of shutters fitting tightly and

COMETARY STIMULUS FOR CELES-

immediate scientific significance was

slightly overlapping one another by

TIAL CARTOGRAPHERS

nugatory, but along with Talbot's

means of a small

spark photograph in 1851 of a page from theTimes on a rotating drum it

in the corres- ponding edges of the shutters. The material of which they

This remarkable photograph of the Great Comet of 1882 wrought a

presaged great advances in the pho-

are constructed is that known as 'Vulcanite', a combination of

considerable influence on the evolu-

tography of high-speed movement.

rabbet or groove

tion of astronomical photography, but not for the obvious reason. By

The rare surviving photograph by Skaife shows one of a series he

caoutchouc with some other ingredient, in extensive use for the manu-

1881 it was possible to obtain excel-

obtained with his "Patent Pistolgraph" of bombshells fired from

facture of combs, etc., under a patent of Mr. Goodyeare's ... Each lit-

lent photograph both of comets and of their spectra. What really attracted

mortars on Woolwich Common and

tle shutter is hinged so as to cover

neighbouring Plumstead Marshes.

attention in this photograph, a posteriori, was the rich stellar background.

Accounts from his own pen were

one half of the aperture, and the pair can be opened and shut precisely

published in the Times of 28 May, 14

like a pair of folding doors. The

Comet 1882 11) was first sighted by

July and 5 August 1858; the subject

hinges consist of wires attached to

W.H. Finlay at the Royal Observatory

of the latter, recently rediscovered, is reproduced here. It takes the form of

one edge of each shutter, and these wires are prolonged upward so as to

in South Africa. Over the next few weeks it evolved into so arresting an

project through the top of the cam-

object even to the naked eye that Sir

a carte de visite which was evidently sold for many years - first from Vanbrugh House in Blackheath, later from the " Pistolgraph Dep贸t" in Regent's Park. In his letters to the Times Skaife waxes eloquent about the significanee of his pictures of mortar shells and attendant phantoms (" Likeness of a Human Head" ). " Epochs of time, inappreciable to our natural unaided organ of vision, [can] be made evident to our senses by a photographic camera as decidedly as the presence of anima/cu/ae in blood or water is by a microscope." He goes on to deride a gentlemen who, shciwn the photograph opposite, ingeniously enquired. " But what stopped the ball?" Skaife infers the exposure time from the known projectile velocity (said to be 500 feet per second) and the lenght of the trial produced by application of what he likes to call an "optical brake":

era. Each wire is armed at its upper extremity with a very small reel or bobbin, with little projecting pins or 'studs'. Now, by turning the bobbin one quarter of a revolution, that is, by bringing any one of the 'studs' to a position at right angles to that in which it was previously, the shutter attached to its wire is completely opened, and being of such trifling weight, this operation is accomplished by a minimum expenditure of force .. . "It is only necesary, then, to rota te one of the bobbins a quarter of a turn in order to cause both shutters to be comp/ete/y opened, as any movement of one bobbin is immediately conveyed, but in an opposite direction, to its companion, by means of the silken thread or the elastic band, the latter always coming into play when extraneous force

The Great Comet of 1882 (formally

David Gill, His Majesty's Astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope, resolved to photograph it. An " ill-defined mass of golden glory", according to Gill's description, it possessed a "brilliant white head" and a tail like "entangled bright cords, or scattered locks of wool". Indeed, its luminous intensity was so great that on the evening of 1 7 September 1882 it could be traced to the very edge of the solar disc across which it transited to become visible in the dawm sky the following day. Comet 1882 11 was subsequently shown to belong to the Kreutz group of Sun-grazers with a perihelion distance of only 1 .2 million kilometres and a period of 760 years. Gill had had some previous experience of lunar photography on wet collodion plates, but the dry plates he wanted to use were new to

one fiftieth of a second is claimed. Two months later the editor of

is withdrawn; consequently, if a thread be attached to and partly wound round the bobbin, by a very

professional photographer, E.H. Allis, from the neighbouring village of

the Liverpool and Manchester Photographic Journal described

slight jerk of the thread the shutters may be completely opened, and will

Mowbray. With a doublet lens by Ross in an ordinary portrait camera

27

him . He sought the advice of a


clamped to the Cape's equatorially mounted Grubb telescope, Gill too k his first exposure on 19 October. In thirty minutes he recorded a bright

logue of stellar positions entirely

only at the last minute that President

based on photographic measurements, the Cape Photographic

Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada authorized the astronomers ' expedition that was

Durchmusterung. Initiated in 1885, it

being made for the sake of Mexico's

coma around the nucleus and a 15-

was completed in 1891 with the

contribution to the advancement of science in the late 19th century. It

degree tail.

help of the indefatigable Dutch

That first attempt had a oertain curiosity value, but it was left to Gill's

astronomer j.c. Kapteyn . Yet more was in store: in 1886 Gill wrote to

subsequent exposures to make astronomical history. As the comet reced-

Rear-Admiral Ernest Mouchez, Director of the Paris Observatory,

ed from perihelion, it began to

proposing an international confer-

change dramatically, its tail lengthening to over 20 and its nucleus splitting into several distinct condensa-

ence to organize " a programme which has for its immediate object

tions like " very small beads on a

the formation of a complete photographic library of the heavens on a

had nothing to do with metaphysics, but rather was conceived as an undertaking that would spell real progress by understanding "nature's wondrous code." The team leader for the Mexicans was Francisco Díaz Covarrubias, engineer and writer, a liberal who was equally attracted by

thread of worsted" . Quite unexpected ly it also developed an anti-tail, a

scale that approaches the limits of

the muses of poetry and hard rea-

our powers, both as to the magni-

faint projection ahead of the cometary nucleus which we now believe to result from the viewing

tude of the stars photographed and the precision with which the relative

soning of high calculus. He was joined by: Francisco jiménez, second

geometry. Perhaps to capture this anomalous sunward tail. Gill took

places are defined upon the plates." The famous Astrographic

astronomer; Manuel Fenández, topographical engineer and calculator; Agustín 8arroso, calculator engineer

Congress took place in Paris in 1887 and duly launched the mammoth

and photographer; and Francisco Bulnes, also a calculator, who was

exposure than the first.

Carte du Ciel project in which eight-

also charged with writing the log-

In the top (positive) photograph on the facing page, the multiple

een observatories world-wide would wou ld collaborate on photographing and

book for the expedition . They set off at high noon on the 18th of

head is lost in th,e resplendent coma, but in compensation both the bright

cataloguing the sky. This cartographic effort carried on for sorne eighty

September. The zigzagging trip of the Mexican astronomers too k

straight gaseous tail and the fainter ditened dust tail are clearly visible.

years and although over taken by

almost two months. By train they went to Orizaba, then Veracruz,

Fortunately the original negatives still

faster sky surveys with better emulsions it remains a tribute to the

exist; after photographic amplification they yield a striking view of the

historical initiative of Gill and Mouchez. jon Darius. Beyond Vision,

anti-tail (bottom, as negative). From Gill's point of view the comet was

Oxford I New York, Oxford University Press, 1984.

upstaged by the wealth of background stars, visible down to the

A jOURNEY TO ¡APAN

day, only to then cross the entirety of the American continent, finally ending up in San Francisco. In the

magnitud 8.5. The idea of charting the heavens photographically germi-

With the transit of Venus across the

California port city they loaded up on supplies: a " relatively lightweight

nated almost at once, and a week later he ordered a special lens from

fa ce of the sun expected for December 8, 1874, a handful of

camera", chemical and photographic gear, and boarded the "Vasco da

the London maker john H. Dallmeyer for the purpose. "The point which

Mexican scientists set out for the land of the shogun and samurai. The

has struck me is this," wrote Gill, "that if we can get over the distortion in a reasonable degree (stars at

trip was full of trials and tribulations, but, according to astronomical consensus, japan was the best site to

Gama", in which they crossed the Pacific, landing, finally, in the AngloFrench japanese port of Yokohama. One of the major pay offs of the observations were the photographic

five further photograhs, all of longer

where they shipped to Havana, Cuba, and from there to PhiladeIphia. From there they went on to New York City, where they spent a

the edge of the field appear elongat-

observe the phenomenon. They

plates that Agustín Barroso obtained,

ed), so as to get sharp or nearly equally sharp pictures of stars over a

hoped the experience would increase their knowledge about the parallax of the sun, thus providing them with the basic measure that is required to

aided by clear skies, from the Nogueno-yama observatory. This was one of the two that had been set up in the Yokohama area by the team. The other had been constructed on a

field or say 100 square, here is a very easy way of making star maps for working purposes." Thus originated the first cata-

establish the distances between the planets in our solar system. It was 28

ridge called the " Bluff." Barroso was


able to capture seventeen images with the camera, to which he had adapted a telescope he had borrowed from the National Military Academy. Three of the photos had to be discarded as unusable. The fourteen that were published along with his report covered a time frame of a little over three and a half hours, from 23:11 :28 to 03:44:25, local time. For political reasons, the images were first published in Paris, France, in August of 1875, years before the French, English and Russian astronomers were able to do so. Covarrubias was worried that

(1986), relates the anticlimactic outcome of the Díaz Covarrubias enterprise, which did not produce earthshaking results but did demonstrate that Mexican science could compete with that practiced in other, more developed, countries. The enemies of science and the wags thought it a waste that so much money had been poured into the overseas venture. It became the butt of popular joking. A pulque bar's sign made leering relerence to just what kind of first contact with Venus had actually taken place in lapan. Could the bad aftertaste 01 these humorous relerences have inspired the pulque bar, "Un Viaje a

and public expectation grew rapidly. The day of the opening it was Maurice Loewy, director of the Paris Observatory and author of an Atlas Photographique de la Lune, who was granted the honor of being the first to peer through the eyepiece. However, from day one, the general mood was of utter disappointment. The telescope was unwieldy and lunctioned imperfectly. The public, who in fact expected to see the Moon at a meter's distance discovered it.. . around sixty kilometers away. The venture, which purported to close the books on a century fascinated with astronomy, turned out to

President Lerdo de Tejada 's political enemies would claim that the photos were copies of those taken by rival observation teams. Hence, he lurther zigzagged the journey to Paris so that the documentation could be published as soon as possible. Many are the memories of that around the world trek: the vomiting and fever that brought on a quarantine, Captain Rice's champagne Irappe, the poetry that the beautiful geisha, Ki Ve recited before she committed hara kiri. It is all there in the logbook kept by Bulnes, "Eleven Thousand Leagues Across the Northern Hemisphere; Impressions on Cuba and the United Sta tes, lapan, China, Indochina, Egypt and Europe". Díaz Covarribias set down his impressions in "The Mexican Team's lourney to lapan, 1876". Marco A. Moreno Corral's, "The History of Mexican Astronomy",

lapón" to have oriental style decorations that traveling photographer, C.B. Waite shot in the early 20" century? Alfonso Morales / Tr. H. Porter

be a commercial and scientific fiasco. In many regards, photography was, in its initial years, much like the Palais de I'Optique telescope: with the advent of its first applications, it was seen as a potentially revolutionary tool for astronomers, but the benefits it was expected to yield came slowly, later than hoped and often in hall measures. In 1891, lules lanssen, a member 01 the Institute, director 01 the Meudon Observatory and president of the French Photography Society, a living symbol of the alliance between this science and this technique, opined that "when photography was found to have important applications in astronomy, it began to be considered a useful, respectable art which could be practiced by men of science [.. .]. When people beca me aware of the wondrous scope of its astronomical applications and saw that scientists were

1840-1875: ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY'S FALSE STARTS Quentin Bajac In 1892, anticipating the 1900 World 's Fair, delegate Eugene Deloncle launched the project of an "Optics Pavilion" whose main attraction would be a relractor telescope of unequaled power, sixty meters long, allowing visitors to observe heavenly bodies and especially the Moon as they had never seen them before. The project, christened "The Moon at a Meter", was supported, however reluctantly, by Camille Flammarion and met with immediate success: the venture's title was featured in headlines, made into song,

29


no longer scared to use it as a tool for their everyday studies, public opinion changed [ ...]. Thus, photography should never forget that Astronomy was its first emancipator and resto red its dignity and importance." Exemplified by Nadar's drawing- an immortalization of the Beaux-Arts claiming a small space for Photography within the Salon- it is

astronomy, "queen of the sciences," which at the end of the nineteenth century established photography's reputation in the field of science. But what is this moment celebrated by Janssen? When should we say that astrophotography began? 1838, the year Daguerre made the first print of the Moon on a copper plate? 1860, when the first photo-

graphic proofs were obtained of an eclipse on July 18 of that year? The 1880s, with the advent of new, more sensitive photographic techniques, which made stars visible that even the period's most powerful telescopes could not detect? In Janssen's spirit, it seems evident that we must refer to this latter date, i.e. forty years after the first astronomical pictures were taken. Many of these were considered exemplary achievements at the time and were often technical tours de force in and of themselves, but they had little scientific value, punctuating this story like so many false starts. Though this phenomenon is not restricted to astronomy, it is in this scientific field -"the science of sciences" according to Janssen- that it

is expressed most acutely, during the second half of a century marked by far-reaching changes. Reading the reports of the Science Academy -whose meetings were attended and made public by the press as of 1833, upon Arago's request- it is clear that astronomy, out of all the sciences, was the field in which treatises concerning the use of photography were by far the most numerous, during those years between 1840 and 1880 - and especially towards 1865- in which the many works aimed at popularizing the scientific applications of photography - from Louis Figuier to Rodolphe Radau- gave astrophotography more than its due credit. Thus, in its beginnings, astrophotography was confronted

with a veritable plethora of problems as far as its scientific applications were concerned, until the 1880s. 1838. The Whlte imprint It was in Paris at the end of 1838 that German physicist Alexander von Humboldt, a specialist of Earth sciences and a colleague of Arago's, saw the first photographic plates made by Daguerre, most of them vistas of Paris or still lifes which were marvelous miniatures, precise and fragile . Among them there was a photograph of the Moon, which the scientist found "blurred and lacking detail" but which nonetheless fascinated him. Shortly afterwards, he wrote to his friend, scientist Carl Gustav Ca rus: "The mysterious chemical coating in which light makes a drawing - with invisible 30

strokes- is so sensitive that the day of my departure Daguerre brought us, after we left the Observatory, a picture of the lunar disc, a portrait of Luna [sic] herself." Daguerre had probably made this plaque at the behest of the Science Academy, by projecting " the image of the Moon, focused in a mediocre lens, on a screen, on which it left a visible white imprint." He thus became the first person to " produce a sensitive chemical modification by means of our satellite's light rays, " as Arago announced during the first presentation of the new process befo re the Science Academy. Arago, a reputable astronomer, the Science Academy's secretary and the Paris Observatory's future direc-

tor, was, among all the members of the scientific community, the one who without a doubt most quickly and astutely foresaw the far-reaching possibilities which the photographic image -in this case, the one obtained thanks to the process developed by Niepce and Daguerre, the daguerreotype -offered scientists and specifically astronomers. This is evinced in his various presentations of the process, first befo re the Science Academy on January 9, 1839, and then on July 3 of that same year before the Chamber of Deputies. Astronomy was in fact the only field of scientific application he mentioned explicitly. From the outset, photography was seen as an instrument of the future for both of astronomy's two main branches


--<>bservation and mathematical calculation; not only could astronomers "expect to make photographic maps of our satellite" and thus be able to carry out "in a few seconds [.. .] one of astronomy's longest, most painstaking and delicate tasks," but the fact that photography could be a precious tool in the analysis of light was also stressed. "From now on, physicists will be able to base themselves on absolute magnitudes, comparing (sources of) light by their effects. If they find it useful, the same plate will give them an imprint of the Sun's light, the Moon's light, which is three hundred thousand times dimmer, and the light of the stars." In 1838 and 1839, Arago's as well as Humboldt's support of Daguerre's work reveals these two men's progressive concerns as well as the scientific community's -and especially astronomers'- interest in photography, right from the outset. Astronomy, a science in which observation, reduced to the mere sense of sight, plays a primordial role, is in fact the first science to avail itself of photography. Faced as they were with the problems tied to the analysis of light on a daily basis, obsessed with optics, often opticians or telescope designers themselves, it was only natural for astronomers to be manifestly interested in the technique. The term photography itself was coined in the first months of 1839 in two places in Europe practically at the same time by two astronomers: on the one hand, Johan Heinrich Madler, a Berliner who had drawn a map of the Moon in the 1830s and who, on February 25, 1839, used the term in the pages of the Vorsiche Zeitung; on the other, John Herschel -the son of William Herschel, the early nineteenth century's greatest astronomer- who had developed a paper-based photographic process in February and March of 1839, and

who employed the term several times in his notebooks at the time. The medical community was the only one to express a comparable enthusiasm in the early 1840s: the microscope and the telescope, new visual prosthetics, are complemented by darkrooms during the same period. Research in both fields is often undertaken by the same men: following Daguerre -whose first trials, in addition to a picture of the Moon, inelude a small daguerreotype of a spider seen through a microscopeLĂŠon Foucault, Auguste Bertsch and Camille d'Arnaud in France, Herschel, Talbot and Nasmyth in England, John William Draper and the Langenheim Brothers in the United States and Adolphe Nyet in Belgium undertake their research in tandem in the 1840s and 50s, one eye glued to the microscope, the other to the telescope, posing the question of photography in terms of a challenge to be faced, so as to allow for a systematic inventory of the infinitely large as well as the infinitely small. Spots and Pinheads An informed scientist, Arago was nonetheless cautious. Not only was he leaving the door open to the unknown and chance -"when observers apply a new instrument to the study of nature, what they have expected of it is always of little consequence compared to the series of discoveries to which the instrument leads"-, but he also seemed fully aware of the work that still had to be accomplished befo re the new technique's scientific applications could be mastered: "Speaking of the scientific usefulness of our colleague's invention, we may only be able to proceed by means of conjectures. The facts, moreover, are elear, tangible, and we have little reason to fear that the future will prove us wrong." Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that for ten years (until 1850) it was the only support on which one could 31

obtain pictures of the Moon and Sun, we must admit that the daguerreotype never was of any real use to astronomy. Daguerre's experiments, promising and yet inconelusive, were not however overlooked: the "white imprint" which Arago mentioned was followed by a "blurry image" of the Moon obtained with an exposure time of twenty minutes the subsequent year --<>n March 23, 1840- by astronomer John William Draper in his private observatory in New York. A few weeks later, April 1 3, it was another daguerreotype, "a very strong impression of the Moon" 2.5 centimeters in diameter, obtained from a thirty-minute exposure, that Draper exhibited at the school of natural history. A third plate would then have captured "a spot almost 3cm in diameter displaying the Moon's general appearance." Imprint, spot, impression: while the original plates no longer exist today, words elearly betray the difficulties of the periodo The daguerreotype's very low degree of sensitivity, compounded by the very dim light emitted by the object being photographed, necessarily led to very long exposures, which created the main obstaele: only a telescope equipped with a elockwork mechanism correcting the Earth's movement by reverse east-to-west tracking allowed one to avoid any untimely movement. Without such a mechanism, the operator had to compensate manually, with all the approximations such a procedure entailed. Moreover, the long exposures implied taking into account another problem: that of atmospheric turbulence, which could seriously reduce a picture's precision. This is why photographing the Sun -whose great brightness considerably reduced exposure times- seemed more accessible at the time. Arago's research at the ParĂ­s Observatory took this direction, as he employed successively Lerebours, the Paris


Observatory optician in 1842, his students Hippolyte Fizeau and Léon

the Crystal Palace's World's Fair had

use either Talbot's paper-based

been made two months earlier, at

Foucault in 1844-1845, and Gustave le Gray, a neophyte photographer, in

the Harvard Observatory once again, by a Bostonian photographer named

process or Daguerre's plates. In France, the first experiments were undertaken somewhat outside official

1847. However, even under the direction of Arago, the use of pho-

John Adams Whipple with the help of the observatory director's son,

tography at the Paris Observatory seems to have been partial, selective

William Cranch Bond, after four years of fruitless efforts. They were of an

and limited. In the tronomíe

Le~ons d 'as-

a destínatíon des éleves de

I'Observatoíre de París, which he pub-

lished in 1849, Arago does not mention the daguerreotype among the tools of astronomy, for either obser-

entirely different scope. The two men sent reproductions of them to various European scientists, reviving hopes - which were thwarted only too soon afterwards-- about the new technique's possible applications and

vatio n or mathematical calculation. But it is the studies undertaken

encouraging many others to take up lunar photography. In Paris, Science

in the United States, at the Harvard

Academy members finally marveled at the quality of these images com-

University Observatory in Cambridge in the early 1850s that once again aroused the interest and hopes of the scientific community and the public at large concerning the application of photography to astronomical research. In 1848, German

pared to the plates of the Moon they had seen until then, "which only show a mass of whitish spots the approximate size of a pinhead ." The hubbub created by these images fueled interest in the photo-

astronomer Hermann Krone had

graphic observation of the eclipse of

obtained a daguerreotype of two shooting stars, but met with generalized indifference. Two years later,

July 28 1851, which was visible in Europe. Regarding the event, the French photography magazine La Lumíere bemoaned: "In 1842 pho-

Eugene Delacroix wrote in his ]oumal on August 1 3, 1850: "1 have read in the paper that in Cambridge there have been experiments to capture images of the Sun, Moon and even certain stars. They have obtained a print of the Alpha star, in Lyra, the size of the head of a pin oThe article mentioning this result states some-

tography was still in its infancy and of practically no use for the observation of eclipses. It is no longer the case since this marvelous art form has made enormous progress; thus scientists from all over the world expect many photographers to be present this coming July 28. Why is it that, less magnanimous than all its

thing as curious as it is accurate: that since the light of the daguerreotyped star takes twenty years to cross the

rival nations, France has not been able to lend our Martens, our

space that separates it from the Earth, it turns out that the ray captu red on the plate had left its heav-

Bayards, etc., a twelve- to fourteeninch telescope equipped with a tracking device comparable to that

enly body long befo re Daguerre had discovered the process by means of which we have taken possession of

of the Cambridge Observatory which allowed Mr. Bond to obtain such precise and delicate images of the

it." The image was an unquestionable feat, even if the representation obtained, an imprint the size of the

Moon, which are highly admired in Paris and London?" In Great Britain, the British Society for the Advancement of Science, directed by

head of a pin, seemed rather unspectacular. Daguerreotypes of the Moon presented in London in May 1851 at

John Herschel and astronomer George Biddell Airy, instructed photographers, recommending that they

32

channels, by an astronomer and optician from Piedmont, Ignazio Porro, helped by two daguerreotypists, E. Vaillat and Warren Thompson. In fact, the great majority of photographers still utilized this plate process on this occasion, resulting in much more precise images. The years 1850-1851 and the World's Fair at London 's Crystal Palace undeniably constitute the apogee of the daguerreotype technique: five years later, it was hardly used at all in the field of astronomical observation even though, during the 1856 fclipse, Father Angelo Secchi, the director of the Roman College Observatory, still regretted, due to the poor results of his paper images, having shelved the process which had brought him success during the 1851 eclipse. In spite of the undeniable public stir sorne of these images had created -as minor technical miracles-- and the scientific community's often enthusiastic acceptance of them, we must face the fact that, contrary to their makers' opinion, they were less informative than visual observations by telescope subsequently rendered in drawings. By the end of the decade, this was very clearly the opinion of Hervé Faye (1814-1902), a disciple of Arago's, Paris Observatory astronomer, astronomy teacher at the Polytechnic, future member of the Science Academy, and the most determined advocate of photography applied to astronomy in France between 1850 and 1875. Considering the trials undertaken in the field since the technique's invention, he asked himself: " Is it not remarkable that astronomy has fallen so far behind that terrestrial physics have long since made use of devices to record thermal, electrical, magnetic and other phenomena in which


photography plays the main role,

able, in 1844, to determine the exis-

into a slot. This instrument allowed

whereas no applications of this kind

tence of a new planet -Neptune-simply by means of numbers, which

them to obtain, day by day, ten centimeter-wide photographs of the

yet exist for celestial phenomena? Images of the Sun, Moon and planets are, in spite of the considerable importance I myself grant to them, no more than simple portraits."

visual observations had then con-

Sun, revealing the placement and

firmed, assuring the triumph of "celestial mechanics"?

size of spots, a first step in the "solar history" which John Herschel had so

It is certain that the Crystal

Portraits of stars: this is, practically

Palace fair, the 1851 eclipse and the

eagerly desired. Over two thousand pictures were taken of the Sun dur-

word for word, th e expression

advent of the glass collodion nega-

ing the 1860s. It is with this same

Humboldt used twenty years earlier

tive whose greater sensitivity allowed for a reduction of exposure times

to describe Daguerre's plate. An Observation Tool

principie and also using a photoheli-

truly marked the beginning of exper-

ograph that Warren De La Rue, the designated photographer for an

Beginning in 1849, HervĂŠ Faye

iments in the field of astrophoto-

expedition of the Royal Astronomical

opposed to these " portraits of stars" as a scientific approach, in which

graphy in Great Britain, limited until then by the exclusive use of the

Society in Spain, obtained images of solar fiares during the July 18, 1860

photography would no longer be a

daguerreotype technique. In John

eclipse, thus proving the existence

simple reproduction tool but rather a

Herschel's footsteps, Hartnupp, Herschel's William Parsons in Ireland, but es-

and nature of this phenomenon . The

true registration device, notably usefui for meridian line observation and

pecially amateur astronomer and

photographs taken in Spain on this occasion are undoubtedly astropho-

measuring time. On May 28, 1860,

print-shop manager Warren De La

tography's first real success story,

he reported on the state of astropho-

Rue used photography to observe

concluding a chapter that began in

tography in France to the Paris Science Academy, in the fashion of his English colleague Warren de la Rue, an amateur astronomer and member of the Royal Astronomical Society who had published the year before a Report on the Present State of Celestial Photography in England.16 Faye writes: " In France, the goal of our work is to seek within photography new methods of measurement, whereas the English have cleverly discovered it to be an unexpected resource for descriptive astro no-

the Moon, the Sun, and even stars (in De La Rue's case) and comets.

my." The two reports betray highly

But it is essentially in the field of solar

divergent situations and concepts regarding astronomical research on either si de of the English Channel:

photography that results seemed most encouraging in the 186'Os, even

on the one hand, Great Britain had focused its efforts, since the end of the preceding century and in line

though the star's excessive brightness made it difficult to photograph. After fruitless trials with less sensitive

1842 with Alessandro Majocchi in Milan, and closing the books on a decade punctuated by fruitless attempts in the field in 1851 , 1854 and 1858. The event would consecrate the effective and total discarding of the daguerreotype technique and the exclusive, universal adoption

with William Herschel, on what was known as observational astronomy,

processes than the (albumen) collodion, and after having unsuccessfully used yellow screens to reduce the

of the glass collodion, tested during the 1856 eclipse. But it also carne to

upon the initiative of great astronomers often working at private

strength of the Sun's Sun's actinic rays, in 1859 English astronomers, upon

observatories; on the other hand, the French school was led by Urbain le Verrier, the director of the Paris

Warren De La Rue's initiative, installed at the royal astronomical

graphy and its astronomical applications on the part of governments, a movement which continued

Observatory and a great advocate of a mathematical conception of astronomy, focused exclusively on calculation. Had the latter not been

Society's Observatory in Kew an instrument, the photoheliograph, a 1.25 m focal-Iength telescope, equipped with a spring shutter and a grooved metallic plate which si id

33

manifest a real interest in photo-

throughout the decade, notably for the 1868 eclipse and culminated with the passage of Venus and the international competition it fostered in the mid-1870s. mid-1870s. Did the French photographic


their distance from the poles while the telescope itself is invariably fixed on the meridian plane. Thus we obtain the two coordinates establishing the exact positions of stars in the sky, which is the fundamental basis of mathematical astronomy." An arduous task which demanded great precision since " in the regular observation of the passage of stars over the meridian one must mentally count the seconds according to the ticking of the clock and estimate the fraction of the second at the instant one sees the star cross the hour line. This delicate operation, which depends on one's senses of sight and hearing, is not done the same way by every observer. And here is where expeditions' failure during the 1860

ments." Ten years later, Le Verrier, in

eclipse hint at the reticence of this

a report about the imperial observa-

into play." In 1843, Arago had intro-

country's scientific community

tory in Paris, stressed the fact that a

duced the use of a punch-chronometer. Hervé Faye on his part, starting

what we call individual error comes

towards the new technique? In spite

darkroom was being built and that

of Hervé Faye's urgings who, as early

until then Parisian observers had had

in 1849 and throughout the 1850s

as 1849, called for having "recourse

to "make do with projecting the

and 60s, championed the application

to new processes" which allowed to

Sun's image on graph paper and

of two new techniques -photo-

"do away with the observer's inaccu-

drawing the spots by hand, on a

rate eye" in solar observation, the

screen that the telescope's move-

graphy and telegraphy: "Meridian observations themselves could be

study of the Sun, however easy it

ment made very unstable."

carried out by the combination of

would have been to undertake at the

A Measuring Device

photography and electromagnetism,

time - and already begun in a limit-

Beyond solar observation, Faye con-

without the direct intervention of the observer's senses." Finally, on May

ed, embryonic manner by Arago at

cluded in 1849 that " photography's

the Paris Observatory- was largely

most important use in observatories

28, 1860, in his report titled " Sur I'é-

disregarded, as it was in Great

should allow to resolve the problem

tat de la photographie astronomique en France," he recalled for the first

Britain. Indeed, Léon Foucault had

of determining absolute time." In

been appointed in 1855 to the new

1860, he once again wrote : " We

time that he had proposed "many

post of physicist at the initiative of

have not lagged behind with regard

years ago, to replace the human reti-

the minister of Public Education, for

to the novel methods that this new

na for the photographic plate in

the specific purpose of " exacting

art, in conjunction with electricity,

meridian observations, and thus

from photography the useful

offers precise, measurement-based

eliminate the observer and in one fell

resources which it can henceforth

astronomy, methods which sooner or

swoop our senses' inevitable mis-

lend astronomy," especially in the

later will lead to a revolution in

takes ." His words foretoken by twen-

field of the "photographic observa-

observatories as radical as the discov-

ty years Janssen's famous definition

tion of the solar disc which would

ery of telescopes ." What Faye advo-

of photography as " the scientist's genuine retina ."

certainly supply valuable data about

cated was the use of photography to

the physical composition of the

measure time in meridian observa-

Sun ." Thus, in 1858, Faye unsuccess-

tions, which was still the daily task of

Until the mid-1870s, Faye - performing the role of an intermediary

fully renewed his call to create "a

the observation service at the Paris

between Arago and Janssen- held

day-by-day photographic history of

Observatory at that time. The ser-

onto his staunch commitment and

the Sun with the help of a large

vice's goal was to " record the precise

convictions concerning the useful-

instrument, and to carefully store the

moment when stars pass the meridi-

ness and infallibility of photography

pictures so that future generations

an line within the reticule of the tele-

may have access to its essential ele-

scope's micrometer and to measure

applied to astronomy. He maintained this uncomfortable stance with

34


admirable steadfastness, in a country

its conclusion with the dream of a

ing Venus' exact moment of contact

where public powers were still very

man-machine, which he expressed in

with the Sun) explain the extent of

reluctant to use photography in this

concrete terms by touching on the

the means brought into play: over

field. In his many interventions at the

possibility of "replacing the observ-

sixty expeditions sent by five nations

Academy, Faye never stopped pursu-

er's eye and brain with a sensitive

to the four corners of the world,

ing his dream of photographic instal-

plate hooked up to an electric tele-

most of them equipped with photo-

lations solving the problem of the

graph."Faye's remarks contradict the

graphic devices betokening, it seems, their unshakable faith in the tech-

"human machine's" physiological

limited scope of the epoch's factual

and psychological errors, which

achievements - unlike Janssen, Faye

nique's powers. For France, three

according to him were frequent in

never lent his name to any photo-

years after the defeat, the event was

astronomy, caused by eye-fatigue,

graphic work- and are an extreme

an occasion to assert its return

the mind 's sometimes faulty analyti-

example that is however sympto-

among the industrialized nations and

cal process or manual clumsiness.

matic of a sometimes naive faith in

its faith in the need for a voluntarist

Looking forward to the July 1860

the new medium's capacities; they

science policy. Long expected, the

eclipse, he planned to employ an

were faced at once with their full

event received vast press coverage,

"automaton to record in (his) stead

realization and their limits in the

was put to music, and was the subject

and observe better than (him),"

episode of the passage of Venus .

of drawings, poems. Even the reporter

designing a device capable of photo-

1874: Astronomy's Terrible Vear

of the 1873 Vienna World's Fair inter-

graphing the phenomenon 's various

If we could speak of a "chronopho-

national jury attributed the conspicu-

phases which combined photo-

tographic utopia" to designate the

ous dearth of astronomical photo-

graphy with telegraphy and thus fo-

experiment undertaken by Janssen

graphs in the show to the fact that

reran Janssen's research and photo-

with the help of his photographic

"astronomers are too busy with the

graphic rifle: "Suppose that one

rifle during the transit of Venus

passage of Venus (in which) photography must playa primordial role."

minute before total occultation a

befo re the Sun, on December 8,

photographic box were directed at

1874, can we not envisage the

the Sun and that, instead of a sensi-

whole enterprise of the use of pho-

this episode also lay at the origin of a genuine questioning in the interna-

However, beyond appearances,

tive plate, a strip of printable paper

tography on this occasion as utopi-

were unwound at the rate of 2 cm

an? The episode is uniquely revealing

tional scientific community, a reflec-

per second. As long as the Sun emits

of the persistent discrepancy

tion of their uncertainty about the

light a print will be produced on the

between expectations and achieve-

validity of the technical means to be

paper [ ... ], the concept is still incom-

ments: in the eyes of the govern -

employed to achieve their expected

plete. We have to equip the device

ments involved, of most of the scien-

goals: daguerreotype or collodion?

with a clock in order to measure the

tific community's members and of

Voices rose up to question the then-

time elapsed ." He carried on with

the larger public, the event was

triumphant latter process to the ben-

the idea of a passive observer in

expected to co nsecrate photography

efit of its former rival, which had fall-

1864: this time, however, it is no

as an instrument of astronomical

en into disuse fifteen years earlier,

longer a machine but an "im-

measurement as well as supply proof

but whose precision and reliability,

provised" astronomer, a child "who

of its superiority over visual observa-

seen as superior to that of the collo-

was simply in charge of pulling a

tion . It was to be the accomplish-

dion, were extolled on this occasion.

small lever and releasing a trigger, a

ment of the system which Faye had

In the United Sta tes it is physicist and

job a machine could have carried

advocated for the past twenty-five

spectroscopic research specialist

out." A few years later, in 1870, Faye

years: indeed, in presenting the 1872

Henry Draper who, in a letter to

advanced that the "only failsafe

event, the latter spoke of an "enor-

Simon Newcomb -who was in

method is photographic observation,

mous operation of astronomical sur-

cha rge of the American expeditions-,

which I have tried to introduce to

veying based on the Earth" which

vai nly championed the process, stat-

astronomical measurement for a

purported to help " determine the

ing no less than fifteen reasons why

long time. This sort of observation

exact distance between the Earth

he preferred the daguerreotype over

eliminates the observer and along

and Sun " and thus "establish the

the collodion: it was permanent,

with him or her, anxiety, fatigue,

metric scale of the world ." The phe-

resistant to climactic variations and

bedazzlement, hastiness, our senses'

nomenon's infrequency as well as the

its processing required only small

mistakes, in short, our nervous sys-

importance of what was at stake

amounts of unpurified water; the

tem's always dubious intervention."

(precisely calcu lating the distance

plates could be prepared long ahead

Finally in 1872, his approach reached

between Sun and Earth by determin-

of time and were less fragile and

35


more precise than those of the collo-

were able to take several thousand

dion; the results of an exposure

photographs of the Sun bearing the

masters of lunar photography from

could be known after waiting only

small disk of Venus captured instan-

1855 to 1875, Warren De La Rue

among them, the two undisputed

four minutes, and the processing did

taneously at every moment of its tra-

and Rutherfurd- were clearly con-

not call for nitrate baths; finally, its

jectory." That same year however

cerned with disseminating their production beyond the scientific com-

relatively weak sensitivity lessened

German chemist Herman Vogel

the risk of overexposure. In France,

asked Henry Draper if he had " news

munity's restricted circle, in the form

at the pressing orders of Hippolyte

of the results of the Transit of Venus.

of plates as well as prints which they

Fizeau, president of the Science

The French are not happy with their

sold to atlases, and especially after

Academy commission, French expe-

results. And you?" However, in 1882,

the late 1860s, to popular science

ditions were equipped with copper

on the occasion Venus' second pas-

books and magazines.

plates which presented "great advan-

sage before the Sun, scientific jour-

tages, for the ease and reliability of

nalist Wilfried de Fonvielle noted that

following Daguerre's first proof, it is unquestionably these two photogra-

During these first three decades,

their preparation . When the plate is

the " intervention of photography

exposed long enough, the images'

does not seem to have put an end to

phers of the Moon who, in the scien-

outlines are extremely sharp and

uncertainties. The research undertak-

tific community, came to embody

retain their definition under even the

en to put these proofs to good use

most extreme magnification . This

has achieved so little that a few

degree of sensitivity allows for ex po-

astronomers have stated that we

sures of a fraction of a second under

should give up trying to use new

a clear sky." Nevertheless, none of the pic-

processes and limit ourselves to former (methods of) observation. "

tures taken during the transit - no

Later, in 1887, thirteen years after

matter which process was employed,

the fact, Rayet reviewed the

whether daguerreotypes or collodion

episode in detail in his work about

plates, and regardless of the weather

astrophotography and mentioned

conditions or the operators' skillful-

laconically that the " German and

ness- provided real answers to the

American expeditions have not yet

initial question nor allowed to pre-

published their results ."

cisely determine the moment of con-

Portraits of the Moon

tact. It seems that despite years of

"We have seen the portrait of the

calculations the results did not meas-

changing star reflected on

ure up to expectations, once again

Daguerre's mirror" marveled jules

we might be wont to sayo Neverthe-

janin in the columns of L'Artiste in

less, two years after the transit, the

1839. From 1850 to 1875, from

the debate over the supposed or

French Photography Association

Daguerre to Whipple, from Warren

actual usefulness of photography in the field of astronomy. Already in

showed in its eleventh exhibition

De La Rue to Rutherfurd, it was espe-

-{jedicated in part to the govem-

cially representations of the Moon,

1838, Arago touched on the possibil-

ment-sponsored use of photography

much more so than images of the

ity, in time, of making a map of the

and to the service it could provide in

Sun - astrophotography's other great

Moon with the help of the

the scientific, military and industrial

doma in of study at the time- that

daguerreotype; this was an implicit

fields- plates of the passage taken by

captured the public's attention, to

premise for Whipple when, thirteen

various French missions. Public opin-

the point of epitomizing astropho-

years later, he described his pictures

ion and the scientific community, it

tography as a whole . The sections

as a "better representation than any

seems, were somewhat reluctant to

dedicated to the " scientific applica-

etching." Beginning in the late

admit defeat; calculations were long

tions of photography" in World's

1860s with the increasingly wide-

in coming: in 1877, Flammarion

Fairs gave the discipline pride of

spread dissemination of large-format

could still write about the transit of

place: Whipple's and Bond's achieve-

prints, comparable in terms of their

Venus that " it is to it (photography)

ments in 1851, Dr. j. B. Reade's in

fine detail to etchings, a debate

that we owe in great part the preci-

1855, Rutherfurd's and De La Rue's

reappeared about the validity of

sion of the results . During the four

in 1867, Neyt's in 1873, all of these

using these pictures to make a lunar

hours that the transit lasted,

were prominently displayed . Certain

map. The photographic gaze seized

astronomers-cum-photographers

photographers -first and foremost

upon this concept when, thanks to

36


Jules Verne's writings, the dream of conquering the Earth's satellite was

Here, photography shows elevation in the area of shadow as well as lin-

by photography at the time by photographing .. . plaster relief-maps of

reborn.

ear dimensions along the horizontal

the lunar surface, made by Nasmyth based on his observational drawings:

Until this time, the main drawback of drawn maps of the Moon, as of the sky, was that they depended

axis. These beautiful photographs naturally do not allow us to do with-

"I n order for these illustrations to be

out well-made maps, like the one we

as true to life as can be, it occurred

on a single draughtsman's skill at

owe to Messieurs Beer and Madler, or

observation and drawing, making

the direct study of the Moon itself

to us that by transforming the drawings into maquettes which, properly

any division of labor impossible in addition to slowing down the

through more or less powerful telescopes. The collodion's surface can

effects of lunar shadow and light,

lit, would accurately reproduce the

process of manufacture. Photo-

only show us a clear image of our

graphy, on the contrary, had the

satellite's craters ." Though it is true

and by then photographing the maquettes, we would obtain particu-

advantage of quickly supplying normative, comparable prints. On the

that general views were quite sharp, resorting to magnification to exam-

larly faithful representations of our objects."

other hand, in terms of exactness,

ine an area led to a considerable loss

their quality was often not up to par,

of precision. During the 1870s, to offset these difficulties, the Viennese

them to obtain images with incomparably fine detail -far superior to

astronomer Dr. Weineck went so far

what could be obtained at the time

as to make enlargements by hand, retouching the prints with water-

by means of direct photographybut also to vary the point of view

colors to mitigate defects. But " in

and alternate classic scientific vertical

spite of all of these observers' conscientiousness and skillfulness, their

projections with genuine lunar landscapes which bore a likeness to the

drawings will always be suspected of

engraved illustrations of that same

being no more than an interpretation of the details which telescopes

period's popular science books. period's books. Nasmyth's own perspective was that

reveal; they will never be considered unbiased witnesses." One of the most original responses to these difficulties remains the publishing, in 1874, of James Nasmyth and James Carpenter's book The Moon Considered as a Wor/d, a P/onet ond a as their main detractor Johan

Sote/lite. A 'remarkable draughtsman

Heinrich, the astronomer from Berlin and creator of the most widely-used

and a recognized authority in the field of the study of the Moon and

drawn map of the Moon from the

Sun, James Nasmyth had already exhibited a large-scale drawn map of

beginning of the century, accurately pointed out: "photographs of celestial objects do not bear nearly as much detail as that which a trained observer with good eyesight can grasp." Concluding, he stated: " photography will not teach us anything about the stars that we cannot easily study by means of our large telescopes." In November 1872, HervĂŠ Faye refuted Heinrich while presenting photographs of Rutherfurd's before the Science Academy, flaunting their "striking accuracy which no topographic map could match [ .. .].

This subterfuge not only allowed

the Moon in 1851 at the Crystal Palace in London . The work dedicated to the Moon, which he published twenty-three years later, was illustrated, something exceptional for the time, with twenty-four lithographs and photographs reproduced as heliotypes. The only general view of the heavenly body is a Warren De La Rue photograph, like those often found at the time in popular science books. However, as for detailed views of the lunar surface, the authors sidestepped the difficulties encountered 37

of a uncompromising scientist but also that of an artist as he recaptured his past as a landscape painter's son: "While I conscientiously drew the details of the Moon's surface, I became interested in the effects these marvelous elevations and depressions could have as far as the landscape was concerned. My artistic abilities started coming into play. I set out to illustrate the spectacle offered by the lunar landscape the sa me way that we can render the earthly landscape." The reaction of one of the period's great English astronomers, William Lassell, is symptomatic (1 799-1880): "1 am persuaded that no book has ever been published which gives such an accurate, precise and comprehensible representation of the surface of the Moon ." Nasmyth, for his part, stated " these images were considered by people who are authorities in the field of astronomical research as the best renderings ever produced to this day of the lunar surface." Much


more detailed and precise than those of his English and American col-

due to their incredible distance, but detectable after a few years if

The Map proper will comprise a zone corresponding to Mexico

leagues, Nasmyth's pictures -photographic illusions that lie somewhere between science and fiction -tell us

measurements are made precisely enough to note displacement. Thus was born the idea of bequeathing to

-1280, 32 X 32 cm pages displaying stars of up to the 14'" magnitude. The aim of these pages is to be able

just as much about the photographic image's powers as about the technique's limitations at this time. In 1877, Flammarion published one of its great popular science books on astronomy, Les Terres du

our successors a document that would show the position of stars in relation to each other, their angular distance, their brightness in a given

to compare a celestial region to its photographic representation and reckon whether there are any new stars, or variations in the brightness of existing ones, as well as determine

Ciel, in which we may read that the

"Iens of a telescope is like a new retina with which we could replace that of our eye." The following year, it is photography, itself an extension of the telescope, which beca me in jules janssen's words the "scientist's genuine retina." A few years later, in january 1883, Andrew Ainslee Common experienced the real thing: one january night in his garden at Ealing, in suburban London, he obtained the first images of fifteenth-magnitude stars -those - those so dim they could not be observed even with the help of the epoch's most powerful telescopes. Photography was then truly established as an instrument of discovery. The advent of more sensitive plates and techniques, in the late 1870s, undeniably allowed astrophotography to enter a new era in which results more closely matched expectations. Reaching beyond the solar system to which it had been confined so far, photography could finalIy conquer the universe. It finally seemed like Flammarion's dream might come true: "If the reach of our instruments were infinite, the sky would be covered with so many points of light that it would be as bright as the Sun, since not a single spot would be devoid of stars." /Tr. R. Moszka

THE SKY MAP Joaquín Gallo [ ... ] Nothing in nature is at rest; stars have movements of their own, imperceptible in a human lifetime

period of time; this work has indeed come to fruition, as the Photographic Catalog and Map of the Sky, which the Henry brothers conceived. Imagine that the sky is divided into 10°-wide zones and that various Astronomical Observatories are given the task of photographing an entire

if any heavenly body, such as an asteroid for instance, has appeared within the telescope's field . But this photographic venture has already born invaluable fruit: the discovery of a wide array of nebulae, which have been classified and their distances appraised. The luminous nebulae that form

region, in such a way that the edges of the regions depicted on adjacent sets of photographic plates overlap. Then, through mathematical operations, the linear coordinates of each

part of our sidereal world - which astronomers call the gala xy- fall under two general categories: amor-

stellar image are transformed into spherical coordina tes -i.e. into angu-

phous nebulae, which do not bear a determined geometric shape, and

lar magnitudes- and a magnitude is assigned to each star according to its brightness. The results can be verified since images of a single region

planetary nebulae. The first are a kind of gaseous cloud that emits light. Among them we may cite as an example the Orion Nebula, visible to the naked eye as the central star of Orion's belt.

appear on at least two plates. These celestial coordinates are ordered and thus catalogs are formed by zone. To be brief, I should say that in the 1897 Sky Map conference for the cata log, our Astronomical Observatory was assigned the zone between the 9° and 1 r of declination south, including stars only of up to the 11 th magnitude. To cover this zone we had to ex pose 1280 plates, each 4°-square; fortunately, these plates have already been exposed and examined, and found to contain a little over 250 000 stars. Soon we will begin another series of exposures to compare results and deduce stars' intrinsic movements. Thus we will contribute a modicum of information to the present knowledge of the distribution of stars and their movements, each plate being an extremeIy valuable document of the position and brightness of the stars photographed at a given time. 38

This an enormous nebula at an approximate distance of 700 light years, that is to say that the light it emits takes seven centuries to reach us at the incredible speed of 300 000 km/sec. This nebula was photographed for the first time on September 30, 1880, by Draper in Boston . Spectroscopic analysis shows that its diffuse atmosphere consists mainly of gaseous hydrogen and helium, which also form part of the Earth's atmosphere, along with another gas that has not been found to exist on Earth, and has been named nebulim . These nebulae's most interesting aspect is their low density. The Orion nebula's mass can be calculated given its size; supposing a density equal to one thousandth that of our planet's atmosphere, its mass would be the equivalent of 100 trillion times that of the Sun, in which case


its gravitational force upon the Earth would be one-fourth that of the Sun's, a measurable and far from negligible force of attraction; for this reason its density is thought to be even lower. The Tacubaya Astronomical Observatory photographed the Orion nebula in March 1889. Since then, we have successfully photographed it periodically every year. Comparing the original picture with our latter photographs has revealed the existence of variable stars, but no alteration whatsoever in the shape or position of the nebula's features. In forty years it has remained perfectly

as they ha ve revealed the existence of inert masses -thought to be composed of dust- which do not shine, but may sometimes reflect starlight. These black masses that the Ancients called "coal sacks" and which they thought were expanses bereft of stars, are perfectly opaque shrouds that do not allow us to see what lies beyond them. This fact I present here clearly explains their presence, as it is impossible to conceive that there might be a sudden dearth of stars in precisely circumscribed areas, within a straight line.

instance, its cycle of rotation lasts approximately 3 500 years. Now, if we leave behind the nebulae which exist inside our galaxy and turn to spiral nebulae, i.e. the. other galaxies which forrn part of our universe, we shall understand once and for all that without the aid of photography we would not be aware of their structure -an awareness which has allowed us to identify our own sidereal system as one of many galaxies. Nor would we ha ve discovered the two million nebulae we know of today.

unchanged. Thanks to photographs, nebulae have been discovered which had not previously been known to exist, beca use their light is so faint that it is invisible to the naked eye. Within this category we should mention the "Lace-work Nebula" in Cygnus, which looks like cirrus clouds -a very beautiful nebula that demonstrates that cosmic matter widely scattered through space can shine with an intrinsic light, as in this case we have no re.ason to suppose that it refiero or that its particles are charged by the light of a nearby star. In this same region we may observe the famous "America Nebula" whose shape resembles that of the NorthAmerican continent. This cluster and nebulous matter is located in one of the Milky Way's densest star fields and surrounding dark nebulae lend it its curious outline. It is also invisible without the aid of a telescope and its discovery further evinces how photography can be su eh a valuable tool in the field of astronomy. Even stranger is the photograph of the "Mount Wilson" nebula. In this picture, ladies and gentlemen, you may behold, with hardly any effort, the extremely bizarre shape of yet another nebula invisible to the naked eye. Photographs of dark nebulae have indeed proved to be invaluable,

Planetary nebulae, another category of bright nebulae, are then hardly worth mentioning, as you must all be well aware of their existence. These nebulae take the form of an accumulation of gases that a star has expelled due to its extremely high temperature. They are few in number, the brightest being that of the Lyra constellation. If in the case of amorphous nebulae their matter is thought of as so tenuous that particles do not attract each other, in planetary nebulae the density is such that they may reach a certain state of condensation which lends the mass a spinning movement; in the case of Lyra, for 39

Our eyes' low sensitivity does not permit us to see the amount of detail that photographs reveal, and the reason is obvious: the longer we look at something the more tired our eyes beco me, while the longer a photographic plate is exposed the more detail it captures. And since astronomers have scanned the heavens, and found that spiral nebulae exist at such harrowing distances as 160 million light years, and that they are other galaxies, of the same structure as ours, some of which we observe through their equatorial plane, and others which we see projected onto this same plane, and others yet which form part of clus-


ters, we cannot but wonder: how far does this universe stretch that we cannot conceive of the infinite? ITr. R. Moszka

Excerpted from "la astronomía y la lotografía," a conlerence hosted by the Association .01 Engineers and Architects on August 23, 1939. Document pertaining to the CESU, UNAM . A DEFECT IN THE EMULSION

Marta Acevedo A light year is the distance light traveis in twelve months./Ten thousand billion kilometers./1 It only takes me a lew minutes to get to the th ird basement 1 after looking at my sleeping children -the illusory/contact with a daily flow- that is where the plates are,/a tiny part 01 the dry galaxy's bowels, the picture of light/emitted many years ago./1 Opening the refrigerator, making breakfast. Hands on /the sweet reality of fried eggs and lukewarm milk;1 tying up shoelaces and having promised the kids a sweater./1 Starlight reabsorbed by the gaseous atoms l of the nebula, the misleading calculation of its mass./Are we those countless eternal particles which lightl reveals, or those whose existence we inler based on movement?/!I must let go of them, consolable masses growing daily,/the miraculous closeness of one's own flesh, to blink/dark images in the nocturnal void ofl Mount Palomar./I Vast clouds become stars, bodies without memory:/five million stars.1 1, by purest chance, far enough from the center/to be what 1 am and observe them from here,/ every millimeter of their potential reality./! The activities of flesh, the meticulous timing of the habit/that is sometimes tiring, the precise smell of roast beef, I the clothes possessed by the wind on the clothesline:/elements of the love one does not question./!I alternately look at one and then the other plate.

Same declination,/ same ascendant, one would say the same hodgepodge of 1 stars one-thousand-fivehundred light years away. Different blacknesses/ but the same spots on both plates./! Those that gently share the material they eject/go unnoticed; planetary nebula./But there are the hot -blooded ones, unstable and explosive:1 the supernovas./1 I clear the plates off the table, fold the boredom andl iron the diapers. I wash my hair to receive/the silent tithe of the maternal hearth. 1 will awake/with a new terror that will fade with morning ./ No, it is not a delect in the emulsion, nor the ever-present Imisleading

series 01 alienations in a light-second./! Tr. R. Moszka THE FLARE OF FEBRUARY 9, 1958

On February 9, 1958, a class-2 fiare was observed that displayed a series of interesting phenomena, among which we can mention the sudden disappearance of the filament associated with the spot group in whose vicinity the fiare appeared, the displacement of the flare's B-section which, as a result, covered the umbra of the neighboring spot, and the appearance of flare-like faculae, parallel to the filament which suddenly disappeared. Moreover, this fiare produced a powerful solar rad io burst, a strong geomagnetic storm and an aurora borealis visible from Mexico City. 1 Tr. R. Moszka THE OTHER INFINITY

Itala Schmelz The microscope 01 lantasy discovers other creatures than those discovered by science ... Octavio Paz, El mono gramático.

speck. I compare the plates twenty times over./Light that is captured slowly, a more intense blackness in one than in the other./ A different spot. Zwicky notices, mercurial old man that he is,/sensitive and excessive, it escaped him in the tension ofl the night: a supernova./ A pupil that acknowledges and smiles: S. N. 193 . A small gray spot trappedl on the plate, suspended, as bright as ten thousand suns,/ the loot and miracle of photography. The unattainable reality registered in a catalog./! Your mind mulls over this newly christened, unimaginably remote place./Nearby, the definitive chores of child raising. Who keepsl me closer company? A fragile and discontinuous callingl that of love, a 40

Finesse and Geometry We usually grant science a great deal of authority regarding the measurement of the infinite. In comparison, the aesthetic drive to grasp the infinite in works of art is judged as excessive. In the presence of lenses and other devices which enhance vision and allow us to observe that which lies beyond the bounds of the visible, in the presence of the visual documents reproduced in this issue 01 Luna Córnea, what reactions ca n we expect from philosophical and creative thought? How do we define the infinite of lunatics, poets, lovers, romantics, eternal teenagers? If we appeal to the stereotype, science offers empirical knowledge while art is an imaginative dalliance, formal or expressive wit. In this order of ideas, Pascal said that two types of


excess exist: not yielding to reason

ter process " apprehension ,"

formless miasma or the dissolution

and only yielding to reason . On this basis, the French thinker generalized two types of spirit, the first of which he called the " spirit of geometry," which holds principies and method

The German philosopher points out that, as far as the mathematical imagination is concerned, it is insufficient to merely have a notion of magnitude, and that it is fundamental to define on which units of measure the attempts at comprehen-

of the other into the same; not a unit of consciousness but the apposite -a kind of fusion or transgression of limits, experience devoid of

as fundamental, and the second which he defined as the "spirit of finesse," referring to the emotional character of a person who lives by intuition, according to what he or she feels, rather than what he or she observes; for this kind of spirit, " it is essential to see things all of a sudden, in a single glance, and not by consecution or reasoning" (PensĂŠes, 1669). The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-ExupĂŠry's beloved character, is the solitary dweller of an asteroid to which, given its insignificant size, Earth's scientists have simply assigned a number: B '612. This singular extraterrestrial, bereft of a spaceship, visits our planet and like a mirage or a welcome oasis, meets and befriends a pilot whose plane has broken down, leaving him stranded in the desertoWe could say that the Little Prince is a good representation of the "spirit of finesse" posited by Pascal. During this encounter, the Little Prince (1943) teaches the pilot how to see the sky in a new light, not like astronomers or geographers see it, but with his heart. To own, rule, count or map all the stars is impossible, "but if I become sad for some reason it is as if all the stars had gone out," exclaims the young boy on one occasion. Emmanuel Kant, on his part, mentions two tendencies of imagination by means of which one may come to an appraisal of magnitudes: the mathematical imagination, which functions by "comprehension," i.e. according to the order of logic, adding units sequentially; and the aesthetic imagination, a part of the ideal of totality, which functions by intui-tively exploring terrain inaccessible to our senses. Kant ca lis this lat-

sion are based; he further insists that these units (minutes, meters, grams) are always arbitrary and human, subjective comparisons which do not hold true in nature: A tree we measure by means of a man's height gives us, of course, a measure for a mountain, and the latter can serve as a unit for the number which expresses the Earth's diameter, then the latter can be used for our planetary system, and this last measure for the Milky Way; in addition, the immense multitude of similar systems, which are called nebulae and in turn form a similar system of their own, does not allow us, in this case, to expect any possible limit. (Critique af Judgment, 1790) Then, why do we need to establish a unit of measurement for nature, if the latter anly offers us her inexhaustible diversity? It is the self which perceives itself as a unit and separates itself from everything; the ego differentiates itself and appraises its environment in terms of this differentiation . The entire universe can be measured in relation to the size of the human body; in the Middle

cognitive sedimentoThat is why Kant insists that the unit of measurement of everything is purely emotional and aesthetic, since numbers, though they reach infinity, cannot reach a maximum. With comprehension, the subject experiences itself as a unit and conceptualizes the infinite by first measuring itself. With apprehension, the subject carries out a different process, which Kant calls "the supra-sensible intuition of totality," an experience that is not confirmed but rather expresses itself sensibly in the judgment of the sublime. The sublime is that strange bond we have with nature thraugh our ideas rather than our senses. Faced with the impossibility of understanding totality, our ideas become troubled and the aesthetic emotion or judgment of the sublime arises: "The imagination reaches its maximum and, in the attempt to broaden it, falls upon itself, and through this process is overcome with emotional satisfaction" (Critique af judgment) , To face the scope of our consciousness with the evidence of what we call eternal and infinite

If the ego is not the unit of measurement, then everything is, given the fact that everything is the only magnitude equal to itself, without comparison. For this reason, at either extreme, we may only speak of two units of measurement: those created by the ego -the unit of con-

produces a feeling of physiological catharsis. The impossibility of knowing these unlimited magnitudes which cross through us in time and space overcomes us and knocks us ayer like an huge wave in which we tumble, unable to tell the difference between earth and sky. The sublime emotion is a feeling which lends our effort dignity; the pleasure we draw fram our ideas does not add to any knowledge we might have of

sciousness -or by everything- the permanence of change. Unlike the infinite -which is conceived as a succession of unitstotality implies notions such as

nature, but it allows us to be part of everything for an instant. In his famous story "El Aleph" (1949), Jorge Luis Borges situates us befo re the eye of mystery. A briefly-

Ages, the king 's footsteps defined distances.

41


opened window through which we

tion in the aesthetic or sublime

glimpse the entire universe: it contains all times and all places, like

emotion . Thereupon Kant described the

Iymph cell in the body of an imperceptible animal or insect, born in a world whose size we cannot even

Merlin's crystal ball. What this narra-

problem with his lucid ability for syn-

conceive ... Nor is it absurd to sup-

ti ve puts into play is the idea that

thesis:

pose that centuries and centuries of

everything is in everything and in all of its parts -the intuition of totality

It is easy to see that nothing can come about in nature, as large as we might consider it to be, which can-

reflection and intelligence live and

can be sparked by the tiniest and lowliest of fragments: The faithful who converge

not, considered in another light, be reduced to the infinitely small, and

die in our presence within a minute and an atom (Le Jardin d'Épicure, 1912). And, to contextualize again this

upon the Amar mosque in Cairo know very well that the Universe is

vice versa- nothing is so small that it cannot, when compared to even

infinite flight, let us quote Pascal, the philosopher elated by the Iimits of his

inside one of the stone columns surrounding the central patio ... It is

smaller measures, increase in size in our imagination to the size of a

obvious no one can see it, but those who put their ear to the surface of a column say they can soon perceive its momentous rumbling ...

world. The telescope has given us a wealth of material to allow for the first observation, as the microscope has in the latter case (Critique of

consciousness: "Any term which we might think to seize upon to steady ourselves shifts and deserts us; if we follow it, it foils our attempts to approach it, slips away and flees in an eternal flight". (PensĂŠes) .

The Two Infinltes: Vertigo History tells us of a surprising jour-

Judgment). Voltaire, dealing with these mat-

In short, the starlit universe unfurled, dimensions devouring each

ney undertaken by Western con-

ters in the ironic tone of the rational-

other Iike onion skins around a hol-

sciousness : from a centrifugal con-

ist, adds his own literary image. In

low nucleus, two mirrors wearily

ception of the universe, with the Earth in its center and mankind at

his story "Micromegas," he narrates a fantastic journey in which aman

reflecting each other and also the night, a fathomless depth where

its heart, to the secular modern advent of a unbridled dispersion of cosmic and microscopic magni-

from Sirius and aman from Saturn visit the Earth . To these giants our planet is nothing more than a tiny wasteland and our forests a mono-

one's hesitant steps sin k invisibly -these are all metaphors of the infinite, a road to the unknown where

tonous pasture as they wade merely knee-deep through our oceans. They

The subject - finiteness itself- tries to understand the infinite, to size itself

think the Earth uninhabited until one

up against everything and faces, like the prince faces the dragon that bites

tudes. For Western thought, this event is an adventure that is echoed by the words of men su eh as Voltaire (1694-1778), Anatole France (1884-1924), Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) and Emmanuel Kant (1 724-1804), who experienced during their lifetimes this categorical transformation of the paradigms of knowledge. Due to the scientific vis ion, the celestial vault, populated until then by gods and angels, was transformed into masses of energy, complex patterns of endless forms, interweaving at one end and unraveling at the other. In turn, bereft of the heavens, man also saw the ground slipping under his feet while microscopic magnitudes revealed their endless morphology. People educated through science puzzled over their place between these two infinites and, instead of finding an answer to their doubts, they fell prey to vertigo which replaced religious revela-

of them drops a diamond and, picking it up from the ground, looks through it as if through a magnifying glass and discovers life on the planet. With his nail, the man from Saturn picks up a ship and places it on the palm of his hand. After establishing contact with its crew, the enlight-

emotion and fear go hand in hand.

its own tail, such a lack of proportion that it cannot but be astonished, overcome by amazement and cast away, shipwrecked on a foamy beach on the edge of uncertainty which,

ened extra-terrestrials are surprised to find out that su eh minuscule

nevertheless, does not stop promising it, in the reflections of its prismatic surface, the revelation of a mystery. From this small intergalactic ship,

beings would possess the power of language and reason.

we wonder about other beings, parallel, intelligent and communicative

For his part, France makes us participate in this experience in passages that do not hide the catharsis that his own words arouse in him, swirling around the same notion of vertigo: It is also possible that those millions of suns, added to millions of millions more which we do not see, only form as a whole a blood or 42

life. From this lonely, tireless anthill, this stellar grain of sand or -depending on one's perspective- this vast planetary abode of ours, we contemplate the horizon. We expect the Iight of a star which travels over incalculable distances to reach our gaze and announce the death of its point of origin, a portent of our own fleetingness:


One day, the last of our descendants will breathe, void of hate as of love, the last human breath in the hostile sky. The Earth will keep turning and through silent space will carry on its frozen surface human ashes, Horner's poems and the august remnants of Greek marbles; but from this globe, where the human soul dared to do so much, no human idea will ever again take flight towards the infinite; beca use who dares say whether there might not then be another idea conscious of itself, and whether the Earth, grave of the human race, might not be the crib of a new soul? (Le jardín d'Épicure). AII the statements we have quoted here do not denote -they move. The exercise do es not transcend the limit of our consciousness nor does our imagination grasp anything empirically, but what the eyes do not see the heart does, what numbers do not explain the soul perceives. Creative express ion has the last word -a fleeting, intermittent word, like starlight. If science is capable of indicating the empirical conditions of the cosmos, writing brings its ear closer to a more intimate rumbling, to the inexhaustible source of words. language is a mirror of the infinite, its double:

arrangements and rearrangements, some more effective than others, manage to recreate the gaze blinded by invisible worlds. However, these notions -the infinite, eternity, totality, the absolute- are negative, they do not contain any real value, they rest upon our emotionality, they lend our ideas wings and foster the ego's need for total apprehension. They are, in the end, reiterated metaphors of our fascination in the presence of the abyss. "The eternill silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me," writes Pascal, while RenĂŠ Char answer him humorously: "The infinite attacks, but a cloud saves." / Tr. Richard Moszka

SNOW BEAUTIES Wilson A. Bentley What magic is there in the rule of six that compels the snowflake to conform so rigidly to its laws? Here is a gem bestrewn realm of nature possessing the charm of mystery, of the unknown, sure richly to reward the investigator. For something over a quarter of a century I have been studying it and the work has proved to be wonderfully fascinating, for each favorable snowfall, during all these years has brought things that were new and beautiful to my hand. 43

I have never yet found a time when I could entertain an idea of relinquishing it. During the time that I have carried on the work, I have secured sixteen hundred photo-micrographs of snow crystals alone, and no two are alike. Is there room for enthusiasm here? Doubtless these pictures serve to represent with some fairness almost every type and variety of snow that occurs in nature, but they show scarcely an infinitesimal fraction of the individual variation of form and interior design among the countless myriads of crystals comprising each type. The clouds, and the tiny liquid particles - water dust- of which they consist, play no part in true snow crystal formation . They coalesce only to form the amorphous -granularvarieties of the snow, or to coat true, mature crystals with granular material. The true crystals, forming the bulk of the snowfall, are formed directly from the almost infinitely small and invisible molecules of Water in solution within the air, and floating between the vastly larger cloud particles. Most of the cry~tals are, of course, imperfect, made so especially during thick and heavy snowfalls, largely as a result of crowding and bunching during development, or to fracturing due to violent winds. In


general, the western quadrants of

into six is necessarily discussed and

wide spread storms furnish the majority of the rnore perfect tabular

best explained in somewhat technical sounding terms. We rnay assume

shapes. As a rule low clouds, if relatively warm, tend to produce the

each water particle or molecule possesses two opposite prirnary poles,

more rapidly growing open branching forms, and the inter rnediate and

positive and negative, corresponding in direction with the main tabular

a general hexagonal plan of growth,

upper clouds, if relatively much colder, the more solid, close columnar

axis of the crystals, and in addition three of six equidistant secondary

but in addition gives them two specific secondary ha bits of growth

and tabular forms. Sometimes, however, crystals differing but slightly or

poles arranged around what may be called the equatorial diameter of the

under the same plan . We may best distinguish these as

not at all from those falling from storm clouds, drop out of apparently cloud-free skies.

molecules. Water, being a dia magnetic substance, and susceptible to

the outward or ray habit, and the concentric or layer ha bits of growth

polar repulsion, presumably has a

respectively. The ray habit causes growth to occur always outward and

of the six parts may, for all practical purposes, be considered as being a separate crystal by itself, and the whole as being an aggregate of growing crystals. And the law under which they form not only gives them

away from the nucleus. This tends to produce open branching forms. Crystals that grow rapidly, or within relatively warm low clouds, usually build upon this plan. In the case of the concentric or layer habit, growth tends to arrange itself in massive form, around the nucleus. This tends to produce the close, solid flakes. Slowly growing crystals, as the columnar, form solid tabular hexagons, and all such as crystallize in a very cold atmosphere, or at great altitudes, usually grow according to

Much wonder has been excited, because the snow crystals exhibit such a bewildering diversity and beauty. They form with in a very thin gaseous solvent, the air, and this allows the molecules of water an unexampled freedom of motion and adjustment while arranging themselves in crystal form oThe fact doubtless largely explains why the crystals of snow far exceed other crystals in complexity and symmetry. Snow crystals, like all crystals of water, develop under the hexagonal system and invariably divide into six. Nothing absolutely certain is known as to why they grow thus, except as it is assumed that the number and arrangement of the attractive and repellent poles possessed by the molecules of water, impose this habit of growth upon them . This dividing

tendency to arrange itself thus, in a position between and at right angles to the primary electro-magnetic

this latter habito Snow producing clouds, if single, are perhaps as a rule of sorne depth, or if double, or multiple, vary one with another in temperature. The growth, habits and conditions under which the crystals

poles. This alignment of the lines of growth, opposite to the lines of greater magnetic force, would com-

form therefore are commonly unstable, with a multiplicity of diverse

pel the crystals of snow to grow mainly outward in the directions 6f their equatorial diameters and sec-

conditions, tending to hasten or to retard their rates of development, and momentarily, at least, to change

ondary poles. This theory would perhaps best explain why the crystals grow upon thin tabular or in the hol-

or modify their forms. This state of things may cause them to grow after solid plans at one moment and alti-

low columnar form, and increase so little in the direction of their main axes, that is, in the direction in which, it is assumed their main positive and negative poles lie.

tude, after branching plans at another, after composite plans at yet others, and tends to cause them to beco me increasingly complex in outline and structure as growth pro-

Each of the six parts or segments of the crystals, while in process of growth, increases simultaneously outward, yet each one usually grows independently and by itself. So each

gresses. In those special cases where the crystals form and grow wholly within a single relatively thin and uniform cloud, as within low detached

44


clouds, for instance, they are likely to follow from start to finish after one single, uniform plan, and all be very much like each other. The frail branching snow crystals, falling during snow flurries, are oftentimes of this character. In some cases, the crystals will form composite fashion, after but two specific plans. A sol id, mosaic centerpiece portion will form within a cold upper air stratum and, falling earthward, acquire branching additions at some lower, warmer level. Composite crystals of this character perhaps exceed all others in beauty of design, combining into one, as they do, the two most beautiful types of snow. It is all most marvelous and mysterious, these changing habits of growth, and this momentary shifting about of the points of maximum development. Growth ofttimes occurs in alternate order, first at the corners of the hexagon, and then at the sides. In some cases, this pendulum-like swing of outgrowth may continue from beginning to end. But perhaps the most wonderful fact of all is the marvelously symmetrical way in which all this is accomplished. If a set of spangles or branches, or tiny hexagons or other adornments, form and grow at certain points upon any one of the six, or alternate, rays, or segments, similar or identical ones are almost sure to form at the same places and moments on all of the others, so that the balance of form is always kept unimpaired. It appears as if the magic that does this might be, in part at least, of an electric nature, and due to the presence of tiny electric charges around their peripheries. Would not the presence at certain points, and the absence at others, of tiny electric charges, shifting momentarily about, as fresh charges collected, and causing momentary realignments in the locations of the several charges, stimulate growth at certain points and

retard it at others? It seems worth while tentatively to advance this theory, as a possible explanation of these perplexing mysteries. But it is a fascinating mystery this, that the crystals assume such a marvelous diversity of form, though forced by the crystallographic law under which they come into being to assume always the hexagonal formo Six rays or parts, there always are, yet what an amazing variety these parts exhibit among themselves. Individual crystals of the open, branching variety, differ one from another, in the shape, size or thickness of their primary rays and these rays in tum, in the number, size or shape, of the secondary branches that they possess. Those of so lid tabular form differ as to their layers, or segments, and in the number and arrangement of the air tubes and shadings within them . Similarly those of a quasi-open formation vary in individual cases. In their spangles, the tiny hexagons composing them, as well as in the way in which these are combined with each other, or with rays, and arranged around the central nucleus. Vet in innumerable cases the crystals assume, at some one or more stages of growth, identical forms and outlines. It often happens that their nuclei, or ultimate outlines are alike, yet it seems to be rarely the case that any tWo pass through a long series of such changes of form o Hence the astonishing variety. Snow crystals are noted among crysta ls, beca use they bridge over and include within themselves so much of the solvent, air, wherein they form oThis remarkable habit, in connection with the multitudinous changes of form, gives great richness and complexity to their interior designs, and lends endless interest to their study. The air tubes and shadings have a biographical value, for they outline more or less perfectly, transitionary forms. The air tubes are largely formed while the crystals or 45

parts of such, are in process of solidificatior), as at the moment when branch unites to branch, layer to layer, or segment to segment, and so growth may be traced through its successive stages. The snow crystals being, in the truest sense, exquisite works of art in themselves, cha rmingly adapt themselves to a great variety of uses in the industrial arts, and in various other ways. These uses are steadily broadening, though they and their artistic possibilities have been as yet hardly discovered or realized by artisans in general. Metal workers and wall paper manufacturers are, however, beginning to realize their value, and there should be a great field of usefulness for them in these lines. They also seem well adapted for use in designing patterns for porcelain, china, glassware and many other things . Silk manufacturers are beginning to see their adaptability as patterns. Their value as models in the realm of pure art is also being demonstrated. Their uses as models in schools of art, and craft shops are steadily increasing. Only recently Dr. Denman W. Ross, lecturer at Harvard on the theory of pure design, has adopted a large number for classroom use . Prof. James Ward Stimsom used them to illustrate the 'beauty of nature's art: in his book, The Gate 8eautiful.

Perhaps their greatest field of usefulness, however, is along other lines as objects for nature study, and for illustrating the forms of water. They should be invaluable to the crystallographer, for they show the forms and habits of growth of crystals in a most charming way. Certain it is that normal and high schools, universities and museums both here and abroad, are finding them most useful in an educational way. One university alone - Wisconsin- has over one thousand lantern slides of snowflakes. Indeed it seems likely that these


wonderful bits of pure beauty from tbe skies will soon come into their own, and receive the full appreciation and study to which their exquisite loveliness and great scientific interest entitle them. This artiele appea red in the Hislory of jerkho, Vol. 1 (1763 . 1916). 1I had previously appeared in Technlcal World, 1910.

THE LACANDONIA SCHISMATlCA

Elena Ă lvarez-Buylla

ures a series of irregularities, which make it unique, totally exceptional.

to grow and study in the laboratory, but rather a small plant from the

Its 9ynoecium is not located in the center, like all other flowers, but is divided into many carpels that sur-

mustard, cabbage and cauliflower family whose Latin name is Arabidopsis tha/iana. Today, the entire

round three central stamens. On this strange flower's outermost part we

sequence of its genome has been mapped out. The genes controlling

find six almost triangular structures, which form a star. These are a com-

the formation of the organs of this species' flowers have been pinpoint-

bination of sepal and petal we call tepal. Severa I other kinds of flowers feature tepals instead of clearly differ-

ed. The combined expression of these genes seems to be the same in all f10wers with the exception of the

It is white, almost transparent, starshaped and though it might loo k like a mushroom it is a flower. It is less

entiated petals and sepals; but what makes the Lacandonia schismatica so

Lacandania. In all of them, a pair of genes -christened "A" -function

unique is the fact that its gynoecium surrounds the central stamens.

than 2 centimeters tall and grows hidden amidst the mulch. The dark,

This inverted arrangement, this change of position between the

genes- is expressed in the sepals and petals. Expressed alone, they lead to the formation of sepals, the flower's

dense Lacandon Rainforest is this plant's one and only lair. Unique

andraecium and 9ynoecium, this natural homeosis, far from being merely a

among flowering plants, the Lacandonia schismatica was discov-

curious, unimportant abnormality, is precisely what makes this flower extremely interesting in scientific

they give rise to petals. In turn, the " B" genes are expressed in two adja-

terms.

cent whorls, in the petals and sta-

American as well as European researchers -who have discovered

mens. To give rise to these latter organs they must be expressed along

which genes regulate the development of a flower's different organshave tried to achieve this arrangement by using artificial mutagens,

with a third group of genes, the "C"function genes. These are expressed in the flower's two innermost whorls. Thus, it is the "C" genes, expressed alone in the fourth whorl that is the

ered over 15 years ago by Esteban MartĂ­nez and Clara Ramos. These two Mexican biologists' discovery drew the attention of botanists from all over the world. Shy by nature, the Lacandonia does not let itself be seen very easily; to discover it, one must first remove the fallen leaves that cover the forest ground . Seen under a microscope it finally reveals its identity as a flower. It has the same parts as the nearly

250 thousand species of flowers that

but their experiments have always failed . They have only managed to create flowers whose organs fea tu re artificial aberrations or inversions, for

outermost organ. However, when they are expressed in the second whorl, in the petals, along with other genes known as "B"-function genes,

flower's center, which determine the differentiation of the gynoecium. But how and why did this pe-

exist throughout the world. On the flower's outermost section are the

instance with petals instead of stamens and carpels. In fact, roses are mutants of this kind and this is why

culiarity arise in this minute flower? What alteration do the ABC genes display to give rise to this strangest

sepals -<>rgans similar to leaves but modified-, followed by the petals -the colored organs of such flowers as roses and carnations- and then

they bear so many colorful petals. Wild roses, on the other hand, have only five. These artificial mutants are crossbred with each other (in the

the stamens - male organs in the shape of filaments with pollen sacks at their tips. Finally, in the center of the flower is the female organ, the

same way that the monk Gregor Johan Mendel crossbred garden peas at the end of the nineteenth century, to understand the laws of heredity) and this is how researchers today

of inversions of the reproductive organs? What other species did it evolve from and what was its floral structure? To tackle these questions, we must use the tools of molecular

carpels or 9ynoecium, which holds the ovules. These are fertilized by the pollen to later form seeds, which once dispersed by birds (and other animals), wind and rain, eventually germinate and repeat the life cycle of flowering plants. But the schismatica in fact feat-

have begun to decipher the genetic puzzle which regulates the development of a flower's organs as it blooms. These experiments do not employ rare species such as the Lacandonia, which are very difficult 46

genetics and evolutionary biology. This very particular Lacand6n Rainforest plant will probably reveal unexpected mysteries about the way genes control the formation of a flower's organs. And it might also teach us something new about how living beings evolved and what causes their extraordinary diversity of forms. In addition to being unique for


the shape of its flower, this plant is

were all aware of the effects of mag-

of sight has beco me the dominant

very rare oIt only grows in regions

nification by using curved crystals

way that we inquire into nature and

that used to be lakeshores and are

and water media.'

codify its revelations.

now flood zones. The soil of these areas is rich in organic matter and

The instruments that made possible Hooke's discovery of the cell

From protozoology to astrophysics, from the still camera to the

very moist. This latter factor is very

and the illustration of his micro-

projection of moving images, the

important, as the Lacandonia

graphs and Leeuwenhoek's detection

coordinates of modern Western

depends on the fungi that grow

of red blood cells, protozoa and bac-

Civilization cannot be accounted for

inside its stems to obtain the sugars

teria, owe as much to the technolog-

without the patient voyeurism of the

it needs. The schismatica lacks

ical advances of the times when

men and women of the lens.

chlorophyll, the green pigment that

Western Civilization was poised

Through all the discoveries made by

allows plants to manufacture their

between the Renaissance and the

these augmented eyes, both transit-

own sugars from carbon dioxide.

Age of Enlightenmenta! as to a cer-

ory and lasting, their speculations,

tain epistemological awareness out

classifications and calculations, our

Before it is too late, let us hope that the light emitted by this rare

of which questions were formulated

perception encounters an ever

star of the Lacandón undergrowth

and whose answers were found by

expanding horizon, a borderline that

will serve as a small beacon to attract conservation efforts of the Chiapan rainforest, to the benefit of its people and the earth . María Elena Álvarez-Buylla Roces

Molecular Genetics and Evolution Laboratory, Ecology Institute, UNAM, Mexico City.

THE TRAIL OF POLlSHED GLASS

Alfonso Morales For Morina Robles and Cuauhtémoc León

"To use a magnifying glass is to pay attention. But, then, if one pays attention, one is magnifying things. Attention, in itself, is a magnification". Gaston Bachelard. The Poetics of Space. It is generally agreed that, in the year 1590, Zachariah jensen, a Middleburg, Holland eyeglass maker,

virtue of the approach and magnifi-

excites the utopian imagination

invented the apparatus that brings

cation afforded by these tools.

where prophecies, dreams and phan-

the infinitesimally small into the

Indeed, microscopes and their

tasmagoria are of the coin . The her-

range of human sight. Truth to tell,

counterparts, telescopes, along with

itage handed down by these

however, that particular magnifying instrument and others like it were

the photographic camera, are at

observers has founded for us a co m-

once cause and effect of the aspiring

mon home out there in infinite

only the culmination of the age old

to objectivity which is the very foun-

space, places with names like the

knowledge of how to polish glass to

dation of modern culture . Through

make it magnify objects. The ancient

these and other similar devices

Milky Way and Planet Earth, third stone from the sun . Nevertheless,

civilizations of China, Egypt, and

rational vision was extended and

they are aware that determining our

Assyria, all knew about the trans-

affirmed, making it possible for

exact position in this game of scale

forming effects of looking through

inquiring spirits to pursue their

that flees upward then downward,

translucent materials. Greek and

quests for knowledge about the cos-

forward and backward, into meas-

Roman physicians possessed the

mic order, the variety of species and the life force pulsing under their own

vertiginous as a light year, is a never-

technique of observing tissues

ures as small as an angstrom and as

through glass balls containing water,

skin. Lenses have contributed indi-

as well as the Arab inventor, Alhazan

spensably to the fact that observa-

ending task. The images and representations with which our different

ben Alhazan, of an optical devise

tion, validation by seeing, certainty

worlds are reflected, described, dis-

47


sected, reconstructed, perhaps are

1. The Rebelion of the Chiahuiztll

no more than modest refuges sheltering us from vertigo and from yielding to finding ourselves astray.

Big heavy downpours and soaking showers, the heavens invisible Irom so many rain loaded clouds; that year, 1691, there were great expec-

AII those accumulated signs, maps, diagrams, photos, aerial photographs, micrographs, virtual simulations of the yet unknown vastness 01 the cosmos and nature are but a blind man's probing with his stick on unfamiliar ground. , Within the long stretch of scientific inquiry, the microscope has been in existence for a little over four hu n-

tations lor abundant harvests in the fields of New Spain. Everything so wet, but, in spite of it all, the farming folks began to worry. Cosmologist Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora subsequently inlormed Adm iral Andrés de Paz about these events.' After the rains, which began to slack off toward the end of July, the

armed with quadrant and long distance lenses to observe the darkening which had commenced at 8:45 that morning and was to last for a lull quarter of an hour, thanking God for the opportunity to witness such a marve!. His telescope, a si mple one of only four glasses (he had bought it Irom Marco Antonio Capus lor 80

pesos, and bequeathed it to the Jesuit lathers at his death), provided him with a view of the sta rs covering the entirety of the heavens and " the moon in its quadrant and inside the Lion which was devouring the dark, and beyond, Venus purloined ". An unseasonably cold, wintry wind came up minutes before and until m inutes after the eclipse, Sigüenza reported to Madrid in his letter. It was a chilling that, in some measure, he associated with another dark phenomenon after the excessive rains, the spirit 01 the workers; the plague of the chiahuiztli - a Mexican term used to describe " the tiny, dark stains that llies leave behind", similar to what in Spain is called " pulgón"

dred years and the photographic camera for just under two centuries. Mexico, at one time home to a host of isolated civilizations who had no contact with other continents, later a colony under the command 01 an empire and finally an independent nation, anxiously trying to keep abreast of the advances in universal knowledge, has its own history connected with the uses of optics and the seductions of light. The lollowing notes and vignettes, scenes taken from the compendium of the observations practiced in Mesoamerica, tell us of the ways Mexican scientists have dealt with microscopic life and their depictions 01 nature.

almanacs and predictions had called for a phenomenon to happen on the 23rd of August. There was a total eclipse of the sun, the greatest one to ever happen in the liletime 01 the writer. "11 that were not enough, in the moment of absolute darkness, birds falling in flight, dogs howling, women and children screaming, Indian women abandoning their fruit and vegetable stalls in the plaza, hurrying to enter the cathedral or any of the other churches, and kneeling to pray forthwith, there was such a confusion and uproar that it was bothersome". Against that backdrop of generalized fright due to the sudden shift from day to night, a cheerful Sigüenza sallied out into the street

48

(insect stains), that had attacked the corn crop and especially was effecting the stands of wheat, emptying it of its grain . The learned New Spaniard wondered to himsell, 'Who questions himsell lor having caused our chiahuiztli? Who brought on the heavy July rains, the almost continuous clouds and fog, the calm of the solar eclipse? Would it not follow that, due to the chilling of the ground that it caused (lar more than usual), as well as having happened in the sign 01 Virgo, ruler 01 the ear 01 grain, (Massahalac reasons that it is why wheat is lost) the latal year came to its close? With a different kind of lens Irom the one he had used to observe the darkening of the sun, and now, with his sight focused on the small, Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora set out to discover the composition 01 those stains that burned the ears of wheat as though consumed by fire. His


microscope showed him that the ehi-

City on the 8th of June of 1692", in

the source of dyes for cloth, hence a

ahuiztli was a swarm of tiny, moss

which Sigüenza y Góngora's letter to Admiral de Paz is published. It is a

valuable mercantile ite;""

colored animals, barely the size of a pin point, quite delicate, looking

chronicling of the transformation of

somewhat like a flea, but with weevil-like covered wings, and, either by

water into fire that the cosmologist and mathematician realized with the

legs or wings, able to jump about

aid of his various magnifying lenses and an observation post using his

with amazing ease. Multiplied and scattered, those

personal lenses, which shows that nothing in this world is unconnect-

voracious swarms provoked asevere shortage of the main ingredient for

ed. It is all interlinked, be it heaven

making bread in the capital of New Spain. This scarcity in turn, was the

sent or strictly earth bound. 2. The Insect Republics of José

prime cause of a chain of events that led to a native uprising against the

Antonio de Alzate The far away and the microscopic,

colonial authorities. And, just to

the concentrated and the far flung, all were the concern of José Antonio

think, it all started with the rains and the eclipse. With wheat in short supply in

de Alzate y Ramírez Cantillana, the learned 18th century Creole author on many subjects, whose insatiable

The findings resul.ting from 5 years of research were published in 1777 as "Memoria sobre la naturaleza y cultivo de la grana", an expanded version of a first work that had come out four years previously. Thanks to that microscope "of great amplitude [ ... ] that brings objects up close", the self same inventor of coconut oil soap, was able to gain knowledge on the sow bug, whose female grew to the size of a good size wheat grain and whose male, to that of a bed bug's egg. By using magnifying lenses and constant verification ("the more one looks, the more one sees"), he discovered that

Mexico City, and the loaves growing ever smaller for rich and poor alike,

curiosity led him through a strange

the males possessed six eyes and that, in contrast to other winged

nobles and plebeians had to make do with tortillas. Even these were

brew of interests: amber, hiccups, chocolate, quicksilver, albinos,

insects, they passed from egg to adulthood without going through

scarce, and they were meagerly

migrant swallows, the aurora borealis,

the larval stage. In his observation of

parceled out to the servants. The

and the drainage system of Mexico

the female, he discovered the pleats

Viceroy attempted to remedy the hunger (that for some, seemed to be

City just to na me only a few of the subjects to which he directed his studies, his thoughts and his writing.

and folds that make her resemble a leech. Upon noting her body, full of babies, a sign of the lascivious

Together with José Ignacio Bartolache, the city government assigned him to observe the transit of

behavior of the sow bug, he perceived her to be like a "fat and clumsy person laden down with pellets" .<

God's punishment, a reprimand to the infidels and reprobates) by sending for provisions from distant places. It was a measure that somewhat eased the situation but, in the end, caused yet more supply problems and black marketeering. The year 1692 arrived with the situation in the grain distribution center, la Alhóndiga, still unstable. One day when, yet again the shipments did not arrive, with the

Venus across the face of the sun on the 3rd of June 1769, the same year he tracked the passage of the planet Mercury on the 9th of November and the observation of the lunar eclipse on the 12th of December. He was also asked to write his meteoro-

In addition to the "insect republic" of the sow bug, Alzate also turned his attention to other tiny and "delicate" inhabitants of New Spain, such as the water fly, found abundantly in Mexico City's near

women shouting angrily for their allotment, one of them faked being a mortal victim of mistreatment (ac-

logical observations in which he reported on the most significant

Iying lakes. Their eggs are a food source for the local mockingbirds. He was amazed by their ability

phenomena that had occurred over the last nine months. For the majori-

to plunge into the water's depths inside an air bubble, a technique, of

cording to Sigüenza, for whom the revolt was not spontaneous and was only waiting for an excuse). The rab-

ty of these telescopic sightings he used an apparatus made by local craftsmen under his charge. The fol-

ble's pure rage against the Spaniards, its spirit fired on by pulque, spilled

lowing decade saw him take charge of the construction of another instrument which he would use to carry

course, he envisioned for man o Termites, with their ability to chew through clothing, foodstuffs and furniture, marveled him by their mili-

out into the main plaza to shout for the overthrow of the government, and to burn the buildings in which it was headquartered. This is how the events are told in, "Uprisings and Riots in Mexico

out the assignment awarded him by Melchor de Pera más, Viceroy Bucareli's personal secretary: that of studying the sow bug, an insect that lives in the prickly pear cactus and is

49

tary-like discipline and chewing up of enormous areas in short order. He wrote about them in "Gacetas de Literatura de México", describing how they set up in galleries about the size of a little finger, "stupendous factories" in tree trunks, where they


set to, doing the work that man, even with his instruments, could not achieve.' Because he fancied the beauty and order of the miniscule, delighting in the lessons nature teaches from the corner of a spider web, José Antonio Alzate ventured to write the following; a brief eulogy to animal architecture: "People, generally shut away in their houses or beset with thoughts on how to get ahead, disdain even the sight of an insect in their surroundings. Their first and only drive is to go searching through public buildings looking for a way to increase their wealth, without stopping to think that in the most despised creatures can be found an organic constitution more than the whole, either antique or modern, of the marvels of mortals. The Vatican temple, the palace at Versailles, the portentous effects of architecture and power, how can they compare with the maligned little body of a flea?'" 3. The Entomologist Blinded by the Microscope. At a meeting of the Mexican Natural History Society, on February 8, 1869, Puebla native José Joaquín Arriaga, delivered an impassioned speech in praise of the "mighty helpmate" that had made it possible for man to dig around in the "infinitesimally small. " The speech in praise of the microscope and especially the entomologist, J. Swammerdan, anteceded his thesis on the possibilities for a technique by which the virtues of two lens instruments could compliment each other! Arriaga began his talk with a reminder to them that the biconvex lens had been invented in Holland, and that Galileo had brought the idea back to ltaly where he constructed the instrument with which he was to explore the heavenly bodies. He went on to explain that in the same country, in the bustling port

city of Amsterdam where, in the 1 7'" century, goods constantly arrived from the East and West Indies, J. Swammerdan was born. His father, a druggist, was a collector of plants, insects, minerals and other works of nature. He postulated that his father's informal museum had inspired Swammerdan's scientific iriterests. Swammerdan later went on to study medicine at the University of Leiden and dedicated himself to the field of anatomy and the classification of insects. Nevertheless, Arriaga recalled sorrowfully that it was Swammerdan's love for detailed scrutinizing into the insect world that would lead him to

cionados of natural history knew how to appreciate this treasure that had been forged through unceasing study. His collections scattered and lost; his manuscripts got to Thévenot only shortly before Swammerdan's death. From him, they passed on to Duverney, who later sold them to Boerhae. He, at last, put them in order, and a part of them were published under the title, "Biblia naturae,

seu historia insectorum in certas clases reducto", in both Dutch and Latin. To this day they are indispensable for

discover that the caterpillar, the pupa and the butterfly were one in the same being. But, he found no support, neither from his father, nor from the university. He moved to Paris, where he continued his studies. There he met Thévenot, one of the founders of the French Academy of Science, and began to meet with his conversation group. Having refused an offer to go to Florence, he returned to Holland. His precarious economic situation did not undermine his obsession with the micro cosmoses of the insects. In spite of his waning health, J. Swammerdan threw himself into the work that would later make him one of the fathers of entomology. Arriaga, in language more akin to romantic novels, described for his fellow naturalists how the final days of the Dutch scientist were spent in poverty, a misunderstood and sick man o His sight had been affected by his ha bit of doing microscope work in the sun, from 6 a.m. until noon, and by writing his articles at night. Nearly blind, affected by the misery and malaria fevers, he would wander the streets of Amsterdam. He had nowhere to house his collections and ended up having to sell parts of it in order to survive. " Neither the scientific societies, nor the wealthy afi50

the fruitful study of insect anatomy, Arriaga finalized. But, the fatal flaw of being so dedicated to the microscope as to endanger one's sight, making Swammerdan into a martyr, was finally vindicated in the 19th century. José Joaquín Arriaga, now into the body of his speech, titled, "The Microscope and Photography as Applied to the Natural Sciences", spoke of the endless horizons opened up by the photographic microscope, the combination of magnification and the conversion of light into image whose first demonstrations are accredited to the optician, Vincent Chevalier. These apparatuses, be it the one designed by Nachet, or Chevalier's Megascope, gave the scientific world a more fine tuned, scrupulous tool


for microscopic viewing. They provided more detailed images than the ones obtained by tracing with the clear camera, a system that

member, Manuel A. Pasalagua,

the preeminent specialist in the his-

informed the journal, La Naturaleza about the problems one had to over-

as being a protagonist in its most

tory of Mexican microscopy, as well

come to obtain good photos of

recent phase. In the prologue, as

microscopic specimens.' In his

well as in the introduction to the

had all tried to perfect. One no

report, he made reference to pio-

essay, "The Optical Microscope in

longer had to be able to draw. One cou ld trust to the chemical tracings

neers in the technique, the English-

the Study of Free Living Protozoa"

that registered shadow and light that

man, Dancer, and the Frenchman, Donné, who were using the tech-

(co-authored with J. A. Arredondo Álvarez, in 1978), he has broadly

rendered "beautiful, magnified,

nique to popularize histology studies

sketched the evolution of study and

indelible reproductions". Further-

and the work that Dean, Maddox,

practices in Mexico that have been

more, the photographs were cheaper

Faucault, and Moitessier had done in

done using magnifying apparatuses.

Wollaston, Soemmering, and Amici

than either prints or lithographs. It

the field. Pasalagua explained how,

It is a road that has its beginnings,

was the underpinning of new teach-

with a sugar bath, he had detained

according to another learned person

the desiccation of crystals prepared with an alcohol-moistened gauze,

in Carlos de Sigüenza's letter describ-

which he submitted to prolonged

ing the chiahuiztli.

exposure and that benefited from a low, lateral illumination. With light

scopes in the 17th and 18th cen-

produced by a Wenhan parabolic lens that simulates "sunlight reflected

when photography came into the

ing about the world's secrets, of publications, academies and museums. "If Swammerdan and Leewenhoek were able to do meaningful and in depth research that opened up the field with such weak and imperfect instruments, then with today's close to perfect instruments, combining and being applied in countless ways, aided by the photograph, it can be sa id that now, the natural scie nces have a new element that can lift the veil that hid nature's mysteries", con-

on the subject, Dr. Enrique Beltrán,

The data is sparse about microturies and full of dates in the 19th

off cirrus clouds, Manuel Pasalagua

picture. Martínez Mena points to Dr.

was able to photograph the simple anatomy of a diatomacea (Triceratium

Isaac Ochoterena as being the main teacher of microscope techniques in

flavum brebissonium), magnified to 800 and 1,500 diameters. AII indicators point to these images of a striat-

the first part of the 20th century. In his writings, "Elementos de técnica microscópica y de hitología vegetal,

ed, slightly convex, triangular body,

fase 1", " Elementos de citología, fase

as being the first trophy of Mexican

11", and " Notas de biología vegetal y

microphotography.

técnica microscópica", the former

4 . Electronics and Micro Cinema "The microscope is a mechanical and optical instrument that modulates energy (photonic, electronic, acoustic, etc.) so as to increase the angle of vision and provide magnified images of an object. It is used to obtain information in several fields, especially in the biomedical sciences, metallurgy, physics, geology, petroleum chemistry and in art restoration ".' This is how the " Encyclopedia Mexicana", in the 1996 edition, begins its entry on the microscope. Earlier editions tell of the life of José

director of the Instituto de Biología gave his disciples lessons on the use and care of the apparatus, divulged the teachings of Ernst Abbe, and urged the use of crystal globes with a ray filter solution to better the quality of microphotographs. In his " Manual de técnica hitológica general", he recommends that researchers view from a comfortable position, never after having eaten, not with flies flying, and only until fatigue has not yet set in. His watchword was to "contribute to creating a love for the laboratory in Mexico, where things

cluded J. J. Arriaga. He then proceed-

Joaquín Arriaga, who was the author

are studied and not words beca use

ed to top off his address with a patri-

of the series, " Recreational Science",

science is found in the former, not in

otic ca ll for Mexican science to come

a group of novels that sought to divulge scientific knowledge to children and the working classes. The author of the aboye men-

books." '·

abreast of the progress represented by microphotography. Arriaga's call was not unanswered. A couple of years later, Mexican Natural History Society

tioned definition is Alejandro Martínez Mena, who is, without doubt, 51

Martínez Mena points out that in the 1920's, Dr. Enrique Beltrán taught classes in botanical microscopy in the College of Higher Studies at the National University. He also


combined biology with anti-clerical-

chapter of the book that is yet to be

microscope: 1) optical or light micro-

ism and satiric writing for La Sotana

written, we will find out what hap-

scopes, developed primarily during

tabloid . This notable disciple of Gary

pened to the old bug shooter in the

the eighteenth century; 2) electron

N. Calkins, was the director of the

days when the human genome was

microscopes which were invented

first protozoa laboratory in the

deciphered and the newspapers pub-

during the 1930s; 3) and scanning

nation upon the founding of the

lished the smiling face of the first

probe microscopes, designed in the

Tropical Disease Center, and was the

space tourist. /

1980s. The optical category includes

Tr. H. Porter

bright- and dark-field, phase-con-

first national scientist to speak on a microscope that went beyond the limits established by Ernst Abbe. These were that anything under the length of a light wave to illuminate

Notes: , See introduction and bibliography in La microscopia óptica en el estudio de los proto· zoarios de vida libre, th esis by Al ejandro

them could not be seen. In Beltrán 's

Martínez Mena and l. Adrián Arredondo Álvarez. Facul ty 01 Sciences, UNAM, 19 78.

1941 article "El microscopio electró-

, Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, Alboroto y

nico y sus posibilidades", Beltrán told

motín de México del 8 de j unio de 7692. Edition

of the scientific community's efforts

mentioned by Irvi ng A. Leonard . Anthropology, History and Etnology National

to "push back the limits to micro-

Museum, Mexico, 1932.

trast, Nomarsky's differential interference contrast (Ole) microscopes, polarizing, epifluorescence and confocal scanning laser microscopes. For their part, electron microscopes can be divided into scanning devices - including those operating with a low-vacuum or normal atmospheric pressure chamber- and transmission

scope viewing". Dark bottomed con-

) José Antonio d e Al zate y Ramírez, Memorias y

devices (including those equipped

densers, ultra-microscopes, mercury

ensayos. Editi on and introduction by Roberto

with electron energy-Ioss spectrome-

lamps that emit ultraviolet rays conducted through quartz lenses

Moreno de los Arcos. UNAM, Mexico, 19 85 . • Ibid, "Memoria sobre la naturaleza, cultivo y

beneficio de la grana" (1 777). Gacetas de

ters) . Finally, scanning probe microscopes have two general subgroups:

and that beco me visible on fluores-

Literatura de M éxico, reprinted by Manuel Buen

1) scanning tunneling microscopes

cent screens were all crowned by

Abad, Puebla, 1831 . , Ibid, " Historia natural del comején (1)".

(STM)

this instrument in which light rays were substituted by electron rays, and glass lenses by magnetic fields ." In Alejandro Martínez Mena's writings, he documents and gives recognition to researchers such as Ignacio González Guzmán, Daniel Nieto Roaro, jorge González Ramírez, Nicolás Aguilera Herrera, Efrén Fierro,

October 24, 1 789, Magazine. • Ibid, Introducti on to " Memoria sobre la natu-

Agustín Chávez as having con-

1 José Joaq uín Arri aga, " El microsco pio y la fotografía aplicados al estudio de las cienci as

naturales". La Naturaleza Magazi ne, Vo l. 1, 18 70 . o Manuel A. Pasalagua, " Ensayos de la fotograffa en su apli caci ón a los estudios microscópicos" . La Naturaleza, Vol. 11, 18 75 .

century. He himself is part of this group in his role as cofounder, in 1972, of the Photon and Scientific

of electron microscopes an electron beam and electromagnetic lenses are utilized to render images. Both types function according to the principies of geometric and electronic optics and Abbe's resolution equation:

• Enciclopedia de México, Vol. IX. Mexico, 1996 .

National School 01 Graphic Ami Mexico,

191 7. 11

Ciencia N°, 2, Mexico, 1941.

tributed to microscopy and microphotography in México in the last

In optical microscopy glass lenses are used to focus light while in the case

ral eza ... "

10

Eucario López Ochoterena, and

and atomic force microscopes

(AFM).

r = 0.61 'J.../sena. (n) where r is the value of the resolution or the minimum distance between two objects for them to be perceived

The author would like to th ank Mr. Al ejandro

as separate entities, 'J... is the wave-

Martínez Mena, Mr. Enrique Beltrán, d irecto r

length 01 the radiation used as a

01 the Mexican Institute 01 Renew able Natural

Resources, A. c., and its archivist, Ms. Alejandra Vázquez.

light source, and sena. (n) is the numerical aperture. This means that a microscope is more powerful if it

Microscopy Laboratory, better know as the Micro Cinema in the College

MICROSCOPY

uses shorter wavelengths as a light

of Science at the National University.

Luis Felipe jiménez

source or if its lens' diameter is

His tea m, which Ana Isabel Bieler

greater.

and josé Antonio Hernández assem-

Microscopes are instruments that

bled, films movies starring snails and

modulate energy and broaden

In optical microscopy, the 'J... used lies within the electromagnetic spec-

images of nature, rivaling minimalist,

human beings' observation capabili-

trum of visible light (between approx-

abstract expressionist, and geometric artists. Martínez Mena has witnessed

tiesoThe knowledge we have

imately 400 and 700 nm or nanome-

acquired about the structure and

ters). Resolution in light microscopy

how the disciplines have moved

function of cells is doubtlessly due in

can reach values of around 0.2 ~m or micrometers in comparison with the

from microscopy to microphoto-

great part to the development of

graphy, from optical observation to

microscopes.

visions of virtual reality. In the last

resolution of the human eye, which is

There are three main types of

52

estimated at 0.2 mm.


able detect the force between the

In electron microscopy -given the fact that the radiation's wave-

instrument's tip and the sample, gen-

length used as a light source can

erating images of the latter's surface.

vary according to De Broglie's equa-

With the development of atomic force microscopy it beca me possible

tion:

A. = h/mv

to generate images with the resolu-

where h is Planck's constant, m the

tion of an electron microscope. It

mass of the particle in question and

fea tu red the added advantage of

v the velocity at which it travels - the

working under normal atmospheric

wavelengths used are very short and when applied to Abbe's equation,

r

also reaches very low values, i.e. res-

pressure conditions and with liquid

Luis Felipe Jiménez Gard a Biology Department, Science Faculty, UNAM I Tr. R. Moszka Bibliography: G. Binnig, C. F. Quate, C. Gerber, • Atomic Force Microscope,· Physical Review Lett", (1986) 56: 93(}"933

In the mid-nineteenth century,

samples, which thus allowed for the

Swedish physicist jons Angstrom, a

study of events in physiological solu-

specialist in the spectral analysis of

olution is notably increased, achiev-

tions . The first applications of atomic

light, lent his na me to a measure,

ing values of the order of nanome-

force microscopy in the study of liv-

which we still know today as ang-

ters of millimicrons. In brief, the

ing beings came about in the analy-

strom .

wavelength can be made shorter if

sis of the structure of isolated mole-

the particle used can achieve very high speeds, close to that of light. In scanning probe microscopes no lenses are used and there is no light source. In spite of this fact, this kind of instrument allows one to study the characteristics of the surface of materials with a resolution of micrometers or nanometers or even angstroms. Scanning tunneling microscopy was invented by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer in 1981 and atomic force microscopy by Binnig, Quate and Gerber in 1986 (Binnig et al., 1986). Scanning probe microscopes

cules such as proteins and nucleic

consist of : 1) a very sharp tip of sili-

acids. In these cases, certain well-

In laymari's terms, the width of a sheet of paper corresponds to

ca-based material; 2) a tip position-

known molecules such as DNA and

approximately 1 million angstroms,

ing system; 3) a tip position sensor;

collagen were used as references.

while visible light covers a range of

4) a piezoelectric-based system for

Besides the theoretical aspects of

from 4000 to 8000 angstroms. One

the tip's scanning of the sample; 5) a

imaging related to the microscope

angstrom or Á equals 10"'· meters

computerized system which controls

itself, aspects related to the sample

and corresponds to the distance that

the scanning and converts the data

under examination must be taken

exists between two waves of visible

into images.

into account. The image in bright-

light or other forms of electromag-

field optical microscopy is formed by

netic radiation, such as ultraviolet light or x-rays .

To obtain images with a tunneling microscope the sample must be

the sample's difterential absorption

able to conduct electricity, as the tun-

of wavelengths, i.e. those wave-

neling eftect is produced under these

lengths that are not absorbed by the

Sánchez (Mexico, 1969) has mani-

conditions between the microscope's

sample produce the image. In elec-

fested in the last ten years, for sci-

tip and the sample examined. This

tron transmission microscopy, the

ences such as physics, optics and

presents a limitation in the observa-

image is composed by the differen-

microscopic biology and their close-

tion of biological material, as it does

tial scattering of electrons passing

knit relationship with beauty led him to discover and examine this unit of

The interest, which Antonio

not have the capacity to act as a con-

through the sample, and in scanning

ductor. A few years after the inven-

probe microscopy, the image is cre-

measure and the difterent inherent

tion of the tunneling microscope

ated by the interaction that takes

dimensions of space.

ca me the atomic force microscope,

place between the instrument's tip

which solved this problem as it was

and the sample being observed.

53

Sánchez's art practice and experiments with computer programs led


him, in a first instance, to lend new meaning to the structure of light at the microscopic level and its reflec-

the fundamental bases of the Big Bang theory.' When in 1990 the Hubble was launched by the space

tion through translucid materials. By means of the interrelation between patterns and the vibration emitted by rays of colored light, SĂĄnchez -whose work is reminiscent of

shuttle Discovery, it was equipped with five instruments: two photographic cameras, two light-analyzing spectrographs and a high-speed

Vasareli's- seeks to produce threedimensional images on a flat surface and render them visible to the viewer, in the same way this takes place in nature at a microscopic leve!. For the technique to achieve its full effect, viewers must attempt a three-dimensional visual reconstruction of the images in their mind while they observe them from different angles, experiencing a kind of hypnosis due to the concentration

and gradual relaxation which observing the images demands. The pictures presented in this issue of Luna CĂłrnea are drawn from the artist's last few years of work, which in total consists of over 150 images of microscopic details, each one bearing a different optical effect. ITr. R. Moszka Pamela EcheverrĂ­a

The Hubble Space Telescope was named in honor of American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble (18891953) who discovered that the universe is expanding. In 1929, he determined that the farther a galaxy is from the Earth, the faster it seems to be moving away. Known as Hubble's Law, this discovery is one of

photometer to measure the magnitude of stars and galaxies. Its fine guidance sensors, used to aim the telescope with utmost precision, could also be used to measure the position of celestial objects. On a daily basis since then, the Hubble has sent enough information to fill 10 000 standard-grade compact discs and has undertaken a cartographic survey of heavenly bodies, with the exception of the Sun and Mercury -this latter planet being too

close to the Sun for the Hubble to observe it. However, the observable universe contains over 100 trillion galaxies. Thus, it would take the Hubble 900 000 years to examine the entirety of the visible deep field . Distances in space are so vast that they have to be measured in light years -the number of years it takes for light to cover a certain distance, traveling at approximately 300 000 kilometers (186 000 miles) per second. But light years perhaps provide an even more useful measurement: a look back in time. Observations of remote galaxies demonstrate that our universe is between 12 and 16 tri Ilion years old. The light of objects 20 trillion light years away -if any of them still exist to this day- has not 54

yet had time to reach usoThe farthest-ranging deep-space probes can detect light that existed before the Earth was formed . The light of many of the galaxies seen by the Hubble was originally emitted when the dinosaurs roamed the planet. The Hubble is a satellite 13.25 m (43.5') in length, 4.27 m (14') in diameter and weighs approximately 1140 kg (2,500 lb); it houses a Maksutov-type reflecting telescope with a primary mirror 204 m (94.5") in diameter and a 3004 cm (12") secondary mirror. Three cameras are connected to the primary mirror's eyepiece -the Wide Field Planetary Camera, a Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph which divides light from celestial objects into its constituent colors, and finally, a Faint Object Camera, that acts as a telephoto lens with a narrow viewing field and can capture images of greater detai!. Forty-eight different filters can be added to the telescope, which does not use film but rather four CCD sensors which consist of over 640 000 pixels and send information to computers on Earth. The Hubble's primary source of power is solar energy. The telescope's estimated useful life span is twenty years. The next generation of space telescopes is already being designed by NASA and might be launched into orbit beyond that of the Moon. This new telescope might be able to photograph time half a tri Ilion years after the Big Bang, when the first generations of stars and the elementary components of life were formed. I Tr. R. Moszka Note: , This theory states that the universe began expanding alter an enormous cosmic explosion and that it has continued to do so ever since. Albert Einstein could have predicted Hubble's discovery in 1917, when he applied to the universe his recently discovered "General Theory 01 Relativity." His theory that space was curved due to gravity predicted the lact


that the universe could not be static but

To obtain this picture, a satellite had

intensely subjective experience that

rather had to be either expanding or con-

to be launched into orbit and four

would reach the spectator on a deeper

tracting. Einstein lound this hypothesis so

years passed befo re its instruments

level of consciousness, the same way

astounding that he modified his original

were able to compile the necessary

the music does ... You're free to specu-

theory to avoid the issue. Alter linding out

information to render these represen-

late all you want about the movie's

about Hubble's discovery, he was reported

tations. tations.

philosophical and allegorical meaning.

to have said that changing his his theory was was

Stanley Kubrick

The photograph allows us to see

"the biggest mistake 01 [his] lile."

the most ancient radiation transmit-

IMAGE FROM THE HUBBLE DEEP

000 years after the Big Bang, when

FIELD TELESCOPE

the universe beca me transparent for

ted in the universe, originating

300

the first time. At that time matter was

Stanley Kubrick's movie 2007, A

Space Odyssey does not only fix the expiry date of a century, an era, a generation, but aboye all it shows us

The Hubble Deep Field telescope is a

red in color and had a temperature of

the limits of a language, a form of

key project of the most powerful

3000 degrees Celsius. It consisted of

filmic composition, a way of seeing.

telescope that the NASA has launched

electrons, protons and alpha parti-

We could say that his brand of a

into orbit around the Earth . It aims

eles, which later became neutral par-

filmmaking is one that explores the

to capture the faintest of all celestial

tieles (hydrogen and helium atoms).

objects ever observed and take opti-

Of all the radiation that reaches

limits of the discipline. This notion of the border, of the edge of what is is visible and representable, is present

cal technology to its limits. By photo-

Earth in differing wavelengths, that

graphing from space the Hubble

which has taken longest to reach us

in some of his most significant

avoids atmospheric diffraction, thus

originates from the most remote

works . Kubrick always always liked to throw

obtaining elearer images, the black

sources. Thus, the earliest image we sources.

background of space being so dark

have of the universe is that of its

the dice where no one else could see

that even extremely dim objects can

most distant expanses.

them.. The limits of morality in Lofita, them

be seen. seen.

The COBE pictures thus represent

the limits of utopia in A C/ockwork

the first image captured of the primi-

Orange, the limits of our freedom

was taken by a telescope whose siz-

tive universe. However, it might be

beleaguered by the laws of economy in Barry Lyndon, the limits of the

The picture reproduced herein able mirror (2.40 m in d diameter) iameter) can

interesting to understand that they

capture a great deal of light. The

also imply the study of light, that is

polĂ­tical faced with the barbarity of

exposure was exceptionally long: it

to say an analysis of millimetric

war in Or. Strangelove and Full Metal

Jacket, the limits of reason and the exploration of madness in The

took a total of ten days for the image

wavelengths (radiation which the

to render. render. Its sensitivity is approxi-

human eye cannot perceive). This

mately ten billion times that of the

light is truly ancient by the time it

Shining, the limits of the real faced

human eye, and given the cost of its

reaches the Earth, as it was pro-

with the dream in E Eyes yes Wide Shut,

production it will probably not be

duced when the universe was barely

and also, in an essential and

improved upon in the near future, at

300 000 years old, and has been

emblematic manner, the limits of the

least until a new, larger space tele-

traveling for fifteen billion years

Odyssey. human in 2007, A Space Odyssey.

scope is launched, allowing

befo re reaching us o Moreover, it is

astronomers to take another formida-

not only the oldest radiation we are

Everything about this last movie is mythological. We need only recall

he dept depths hs of darkness. ble step into tthe

receiving but also the most distant,

that it premiered in 1968, "another

/ Tr. R. Moszka Dr. Antonio Peimbert

as it has traveled 140 quintillion kilo-

temporallĂ­mit", barely a few months

meters to reach uso

before the Apollo 8 sent <: picture of

Or. Antonio Peimbert / Tr. R. Moszka Moszka

Earth seen from the Moon - which wee could call one of the first pictures w

PICTURES FROM T THE HE COBE

2001, A SPAC SPACE E ODYSSEY: FILM-

of the impossible ever taken-, befo re

For someone who has studied physics

M AKING EXPLORING MAKING EX PLO RING THE LlMITS

man himself set foot on the Moon.

the tthree hree ovals on p. 245 represent

Mauricio M auricio M Molina oli na

Around these same unbelievable

the analysis of temperature variations

times took place the Prague Spring,

in background radiation. A physicist

I tried to create a visual experience, one

the student uprisings in Paris in

might add that background radiation

that would avoid verbal typecasting

1968, the massacre at Tlatelolco in

is the remnant of the Big Bang as

and go directly to the subconscious

Mexico City. And while the Beatles

well as one of the most important

with an emotional and philosophical

shut themselves away to write The

components com ponents of cosmological theory. theory.

content.... I tried to make the film an content..

White Album, experimentation with

55


hallucinogens formed part of a re-

which in 1968 was merely an artistic

one of the first sketches of the post-

volution that would shake the foun-

intuition, has today become reality.

humanist era, a time when what is

dations of Western culture. Around

The Hubble space telescope, current-

human stops occupying center-

this time George Steiner, in a vision-

Iy in orbit, can observe the universe's

stage, allowing for the advent of

ary book entitled Blue 8eord's Costle,

most remote regions, from black

other points of view, of other ways of

prophesied within the field of cultur-

holes to quasars, the origin of the

thinking and being. Gilles Deleuze

al analysis the advent of a new kind

universe (as time is visible since

has pointed out that filmmaking is a

of language that would come to

Einstein), and even the colors that

form of thought. If we were to relate

form part of our lives: that of

represent stars' ages. The same thing

Kubrick's work to that of a philoso-

cloning, artificial intelligence,

occurs with artificial intelligence. HAl

pher, it would be to Martin Heideg-

advanced mathematics. It is within

9000 is an imaginary ancestor (noth-

ger and his disturbing meditations

this maelstrom of ideas and historical

ing stops us now from imagining a

on the subject of technique and the

events that we must loca te the ap-

genealogy of the machine) of Deep

displacement of the being by the self

pearance of 2001. Also at that time,

Blue, the computer that beat human

as a specific symptom of the current

we should recall that within the field

champion Gary Kasparov in a game

state of affairs.

of philosophy a historical revision

of chess. We need only mention how

was taking place from an utterly

Kasparov himself, taking notes dur-

the new millennium, stated the fol-

novel perspective of Nietzsche's work

ing the historical match, jotted down

lowing in his Six Memos for the Next

and his notion of human betterment.

"this thing is thinking." We should

Millennium: " if only a work conceived

not think that this is a mere intuition

outside the self were possible, a work which would allow one to step out-

Kubrick forms part of all that the

ltalo Calvino, another traveler of

Germans call Zeitgeist -the spirit of

of the future, a prophetic anecdote:

the time- and his film could only

on the contrary, Kubrick was aware

side an individual 1, not only to enter

express, in perhaps a rather obscure

of these limits beca use they already

way, a revision of our limits and our

existed in a latent state at the time.

other "s similar to our own, but to give a voice to that which has no

hopes. The first thing that stands out

There is an utterly visionary moment in 2001 -the final

words, to the tree in spring and the

will to represent the un representable, to think the unthinkable. If there is

sequence, which has spawned so

Kubrick's work, then, will remain a

many interpretations. Aman, the

limit. Just as James Joyce and

an element that even today seems to warrant closer scrutiny it is the need

astronaut who defeated HAl and has

Fernando Pessoa, with very different

decided to take a leap into the un-

strategies, shifted the narrator's or

to reveal the invisible. In this sense,

known, after having undertaken a

poet's point of view to a creative

no other image could be more sug-

long inner voyage which recalls ini-

multiplicity, Marcel Duchamp

gestive than the one that, at the end

tiatory drug "trips", suddenly comes

brought definitive closure to the idea

of the film, shows us a fetus floating

upon a place whose decor refers as

of retinal painting to offer us a per-

in space in a bubble. It is not only

much to the eighteenth century as

spective which always lay beyond

is doubtlessly the American director's

tree in fall, stone, cement, plastic."

the birth of a new humanity that was

to a future epoch crystallized in time.

our five limited senses. Luciano Berio,

developing in a new acoustic, social

The astronaut then becomes an old

John Cage or Jimi Hendrix did the

or epistemological context. Kubrick was expressing a new point of view

man and later a fetus floating in

exact same thing in the field of

space. This can be interpreted in

music, where machines began to go

in which the human eye did not lie

many different ways; however, the

on stage: synthesizers, tape decks,

at the center of perception of the vis-

references to the eighteenth-century

electric guitars. Stanley Kubrick

ible. This Copernican displacement is also present in 2001.

are too clear to simply be over-

taught us, in a masterful way, to loo k

looked. Kubrick situates us at the twi-

at the world from the perspective of

Let us recall HAl 9000, the computer that decides to kili the astro-

light of the Age of Enlightenment, of

what is not human. We will remem-

the encyclopaedia, precisely when

ber his work, perhaps forever, as the

nauts when it realizes it has made a

the curtain falls on the Enlighten-

cinema of the invisible.

mistake: not only can HAl see more than what human beings can see-

ment's premises, just as Adomo and Horkheimer intuited it. Considered

that is something photographic cameras have been able to do since WN

film of post modemity, which can be

One doy cryptic messoges begon to oppeor on computer screens whose source we never monoged to discover: N entering o block hole, travelers experience a strange feeling: their bodies become increosingly smoll ond quickly rejuvenote, until their spocesuits saon

from this angle, it is a pioneering

11. HAl can interpret images, make

understood as the conclusion of the

sen se of them and use them to make

Enlightenment's fundamental pre-

a series of decisions. This concept,

cepts . 2001, A Spoce Odyssey may be

56


seem too big. They slowly begin to for-

abstract arto " 1 became fascinated

get language, lose their memory. They

with the complexity of chaos theory, which is almost impossible to

stutter within their astronauts ' suits. have returned to the state of insemi-

explain, other than that it comes out of all sorts of patterns and coinci-

nated egg. When they approach the

den ces that, on sorne level, are self-

exit they begin to grow again, Iike a

organizing." For over twenty years, Rankaitis has been exploring the photographic

Midway through their voyage they

larva inside a cocoon. They become children again, teenagers, until they returned to their former adult formo

image's techniques and materials. The artist blanches, tints, brushes

They will appear in a parallel universe.

and applies various chemicals that

come out at the other end having

truly concern her: genetic engineering and ONA, the questioning of concepts of gender differentiation and of the " natural versus artificial. "

"1 like this type of jargon beca use on sorne levels it is the only way that many of us will begin to comprehend the complexity of this research. Mapping and sequencing are things that I do every day as an artist and are also techniques that genetic engineers

The human eye will see something we have never seen before. Ears will hear things we will never have heard. Words will name what has never been named. Thought will en ter the unknown. And nevertheless humans will still be the same. Words, images and music will be the same old images, words and music. Only the universe will have changed... definitive-

Iy. " / Tr. R. Moszka

IN THE ERA OF GENETlC LANGUAGE Since the nineteenth century, photography in the service of science has most often merely played the role of illustrative evidence. Opposing this positivist premise, Susan Rankaitis (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1949) has sought to approach the ever more specialized and hermetic codes developed within the scientific and technical disciplines, while also incorporating into her photographic practice elements drawn from action painting, collage and installation. To this American artist, our present moment transcends the postindustrial condition and leads us directly to the problematic of an ethical-aesthetic nature, which our current "age of genetic language" forces us to confront. Her work not only deals with her strong concern about how scientific knowledge is acquired today, but also focuses on the similarities that this development may bear with the processes of

attack the sensitive paper surface, producing multiple large-format prints in negative with her trademark metallic tones. Challenging more orthodox notions of photography, Rankaitis mixes her techniques and media to work and rework, over a long period of time, a certain territory of indecipherable chaos. "In my work, I hide clues, code and decode them, unravel them." The overlaying of codes and ciphers on a surface which was previously given a clean and almost minimal treatment is a surprising way of approaching the issue. Her achievements in the creation of new surfaces, produced by hybrid processes which are the result of her research in the field of painting and sculpture, reflect the same will to overstep the barriers in understanding the matters which 57

use regularly." This same transformation of identity takes place in all of her work and, in concrete terms, it is chemicals that bring it about. " Much of the scientific language comes from the same field that my visual vocabulary does. It appears when I get into the space in order to transfix it." " My art is a kind of visual labyrinth, it isn't scientific illustration or documentary or a purely expressive moment." The redefinition which Rankaitis' work explores leads us to a kind of photography which lies beyond the limits of representation, and which allows us see that the profound complexity of both scientific and artistic language never manifests itself as a precise, defined form but rather always as a series, a key problematic, a work in progress. JesĂşs Coss / Tr. R. Moszka


THE MEASURE OF UNCERTAINTY

"uncertainty" in this case is linked to

Ricardo Toledo

the validity of these questions'

a technical rather than fundamental

answers. Generally, in a first instance,

limit, and shortly afterwards the first

discussion regarding this criterio n as

Resolution is a property of instru-

"uncertainty" can be quantified

experiments were undertaken

ments that produce images' that

according the so-called Rayleigh crit-

demonstrating resolutions superior to

characterizes them in terms of their

erion.' In short, this criterion states

that established by Rayleigh's criteri-

ability to distinguish between the

that the minimum dimensions of an

on.'

presence or absence of one or vari-

object's image are directly established

ous objects. This property is not easi-

by the properties of the information

To illustrate these concepts, let us consider a series of ideal objects,

Iy definable. Even when it depends

transmittal mechanism, and inversely

infinitely small, and in a state of

on the physical properties of the

by the size of the signal gatherer.

absolute contrast.路 A very good

instrument such as the size of its

Accordingly, each instrument has a

approximation to this would be a

information gathering device -the

minimum image size. Thus, all objects

microphotograph of a completely opaque screen with a number of extremely small holes and a lamp behind it. If the size of the holes and the distance between them beca me smaller than the dimension called the

minimum distance of reso/ution, or simply the reso/ution of the instrument, it would be impossible to determine the location or number of holes, though the presence of at least one hole could be proven by the simple fact that some light may be detected. Following this reasoning to its final conclusion we may think that if we continue to reduce the size of the holes there will come a point at which the quantity of light passing through the screen's openings will be so slight that the instrument's lens if we are speaking of a photo-

smaller in scale than the instrument's

graphic camera- and the mechanism

power of resolution will generate

the human eye- will be unable to

trans~itting

images of the same dimension.'

detect it within a given time span,

information between

object and gatherer -light in the former instance- it also depends on cer-

Referring once again to a photo-

detector -the photographic paper or

and we will not be able to tell

graphic camera, its resolution will

whether the hole (or holes) exists.

tain factors which are more abstract

depend on the kind of light used

Thus, the "uncertainties" associated

and difficult to measure such as the

-i.e. on the light source's color con-

with the holes are, initially, related to

nature of the objects under scrutiny

tent- and on the size of the lens.'

their number and spatial positioning

and, more importantly, the know-

Here, we use quotation marks to dif-

and, eventually, to their very exist-

ledge and previous experience the

ferentiate this "uncertainty of resolution" from other more fundamental

ence in time.

observer interpreting the image may have of these objects,' if we consider

uncertainties associated with the

important aspects of resolution in

that the observer can also be an inte-

quantic nature of the aforemen-

this example: the degree of uncer-

gral part of the instrument.

tioned information transmittal mech-

tainty of the objects' existence can

Thus, an instrument's power of resolution is closely associated to a

We should emphasize two

anisms.6 However, the difference

be reduced, or, conversely, we can

between these two uncertainties has

increase the resolution of their exist-

measure of " uncertainty" conceming

not always been well established and

ence if we improve the detector's

represented objects. When observing

for many years Rayleigh's criterion

sensitivity.' The uncertainties concerning position and number are

an image one may ask questions

was considered a fundamental limit

regarding the objects' existence,

of resolution . At the beginning of the

determined by the characteristics of

number and localization, and the

twentieth century, there was some

the mechanism transmitting the

58


information between object and detector - light- and the properties of the instrument's signal gatherer -the lens- as we mentioned earlier. According to Toraldo di Francia 's thesis, ,. the image has a finite number of degrees of freedom as it contains a limited quantity of information, " wh ile objects will always have an infinite number of degrees of freedom since they can generate an infinite quantity of information. Thus, if different objects can generate the same image, resolution can be understood in terms of its capacity to determine, beyond the shadow of a doubt, to which object, among all those possible, a given image belongs. This determination's accuracy will depend on the knowledge the image's observer has of the object proper. Going back to the former example, let us consider the case of the resolution of two identical holes on the opaque screen. If the obser.ver knows that there are only two possible observations -one hole or two holes- his or her a priori knowledge of the object is absolute and he or she will only need a modicum of additional information to be able to come to a decision. The image will always have the same quantity of information since the image of one hole will always be different to that of two holes, and this information suffices for the sake of a final determination. Generally, the observer does not have all the information

of image·generating instrument or device, sueh as a photographie camera, a radio teleseope or the human eye. G. Toraldo di Francia, HResolving Power and

1

Information," ¡ouma/ of the Optica/ Society af America #45, 1955, pp. 497-501. • lohn William 5trutt (lord Rayleigh), Phi/o Mag. vol.5, #8, 1879, p.261. 4This is why the human eye can Ilsee" a thread only a few nanometers Ihiek (1 nanometer = 10' meters), somelhing far below its power of resolution, but only when the thread is lit brightly enough and plaeed against a sharply eontrasting background.

s lhis is in the ideal case in which a detector -photographie paper, a CCD, Ihe retina- is eapable of registering all of the information eaptured and transmitted by the lens. A good optieal design is one in whieh the quantity of information the lens transmits is equal lO the quantity of information the detector can register. The human eye's lens has a resolution of between 2 and 3 mierons, whieh is approximately the distanee separating the photosensitive eells of Ihe fovea -the region on Ihe retina Ihat possesses Ihe greatest resolution. • I.M. Vigoreux, D. Cou~on, " Detection of Nonradiative Fields in Ught of Ihe Heisenberg Uneertainty Principie and the Rayleigh Criterion," Applied Optia Optia vo1.31, #16, 1992, pp. 3170-3177. , E.H. Synge, " A Suggested Method for Extending M ieroseopie Resolution in the UltraMieroseopie Region," Phi/o Mag. #6, 1928, pp. 356-363. • An object in a state of absolute eontrast emits (reflected or its own) light in a eompletely lightless environment, such as a firefly on a dark, moonless night. , Sensitivity ca n be enhaneed by inereasing Ihe time span of Ihe detection. This eannot be done for an infinitely long amount of time sinee all deteetors register sorne background noise, and the signal, which one seeks to deteet, must be stronger Ihan Ihis noise -lar a

certain amount of time. However, there are

a

priori; in fact, one often observes objects with no prior knowledge of them whatsoever -a very common situation in scientific observation. In these cases, it is imperative to exactly know the characteristics of the instrument's resolution and thus avoid coming to conclusions about objects that are erroneous or unverifiable. / Tr. R. Moszka

ways of reduci ng a detectors background noise (Iowering its temperature, for instance). 10

A modern, high-resolution digital ca mera

can only generate 20 x 10" (20 quadrillion) different images. nol an infinite number of them . The finite content of information in an image is the reason why a photograph cannot be endlessly enlarged. 11

A quantum is the minimal unit of informa-

tion, equivalent to a digital bit.

EMBRYONIC LANDSCAPES Ariel Ruiz i Altaba

Notes:

I The expression Hinstruments that produce images" is used here to point out that the ensuing argument can be applied to any sort

Embryonic Landscapes is a collection of images of embryonic forms and the spaces they create. The subjects 59

are mostly from my molecular embryology research but the photographs were taken and composed for their aesthetic value and are shown out of their usual contexto Nature, as the first cabinet and the grandest museum, contains not only all collectable oddities that attract our curiosity but also many fascinating realities that remain to be discovered. Imagine the first time someone saw a sloth, a mitochondrion, a herpes virus or the eyes of a jelIyfish, the first time 'black' and 'white' people saw each other, or the first time scientists figured out the genetic codeo Could our imagination have predicted such incredible realities? Before they were observed and, in some cases collected, they could have appeared in books on monsters and abstractions or in fantastic tales, and some indeed did. But when do es a monster cease to be recognized as such, and become accepted and familiar? Understanding unique animals, different peoples or macromolecular structures encompasses a broadening of our knowledge about Nature, and it is in this same sense that Embryonic Landscapes offers the possibility of looking into the inner workings and beauty of living creatures during critical stages of their early development. The photographs in this book show textures and shapes, densities and depths that inform us about forming tissues and cells of animals and plants. Some images also show the places where certain endogenous genes, such as Pintallavis, are active or 'expressed' as we say in the field . Others show where introduced genes are expressed in transgenic animals. The expression patterns of genes or their protein products shown in these images reveal an underlying order that can precede overt morphological development. Indeed, monsters are mostly based on aberrant proportion, magnitude or identity of the whole or its parts,


and arise from the abnormal behavior of their genes and/or cells during development. Many monstrosities, or mutations, also remain unseen, hidden from plain view, residing in our DNA. The severity of different mutations, however, can vary enormously: individuals with mutations that cause insufficient expression of Sonic hedgehog can be cyclopic, those lacking Otx2 function are headless and those in which Glil is misexpressed in the skin develop skin cancers. In contrast, small changes in keratin genes can make our hairstyles different, and those in other genes can affect the way we think, dream or age. Because we all carry mutations and we are the products of millions of years of evolution through the selection of convenient monstrosities, we are now also (adapted) monsters that serve as the ongoing raw material for the evolution of our descendants. The images in Embryonic Landscapes catch a glimpse of the formulation of normal development and thus of all possible monstrosities, making this book a mirror, a gate to an introspective exploration. Embryonic Landscapes includes faithful microscopic images showing distinct morphologies and histologies, such as those ofaxons or single embryonic cells (a few thousandths of a millimeter wide) captured with the use of refined optical microscopes. The photographs also include objects and lite forms within our scale, such as an operated chicken egg or an adult frog laying 'strings' of eggs. In addition, Embryonic Landscapes hints at the formulation of molecular anatomies by showing when and where specific genes are active. Because gene expression patterns are revealed in indirect ways, mostly in fixed and thus dead specimens, some images in this book show virtual realities that science would normally test and validate. But beyond using technology

to acquire crisp images that document grain by grain or pixel by pixel the data that we 'see', once decontextualized, scientific photographs can beco me appealing abstractions. Moreover, art photographs of scientific subjects can raise questions not encompassed in scientific inquiry. Both art and science have purpose and intention, and knowing how to 'see' is the basis of artistic and scientific inquiry. Artistic images and scientific data are often reinterpreted and reevaluated through eyes that 'see' differently. Creativity then drives this first approach in a highly subjective manner hoping to lead to universal truths. It is as if science and art originate from the same creative source, diverge, and later converge at the edge of the expanding known world in which universality is a transient attribute. In scientific research we go from wonder, to inquisition and, sometimes, reach understanding. Is it possible to go back and forth in this path? Can the science that is changing the perception of our very nature be perceived as art? Can it inform us about the world in unpredictable ways? Possibly so, as the search for knowledge that art entails transforms our scientific understanding of reality into further philosophical exploration where art and science merge. Methodologically, science and art diverge. And very much so. Modern science is based on the idea of the experiment, objectivity and reproducibility. Science builds on previous knowledge and it often works by induction and deduction whereas art does noto Scientists can be artists whereas the opposite is highly unlikely. Science aims at providing answers for workable problems whereas art can aim at increasing awareness by raising questions that are impossible to answer at the time they are posed. Moreover, beauty in science is relative to (accepted) truth. In art, truth and beau60

ty are relative (to acceptance). Nevertheless, one may question whether art can be reproducible, whether there are controls in art, whether scien ce is always objective, whether truths can evolve or whether there is logic in art as there is in genetics. One may then wonder whether reproducibility could lie in the variations on a theme by a single artist, or whether the creation of a series of related works of art represents, in itself, a control. Children may draw Mir贸 look-alikes but only Mir贸 developed the universal language to read the world that permeates his work. How different is this then from a scientific language used to begin to understand Nature? Seduction is also the aim of Embryonic Landscapes, the seduction required for the viewer/reader to inquire about the essence of photographic images and their interpretations- why some images seem appealing, others uncomfortable and others even alienating. The seduced reader/viewer will start an inquiry, which could include questions such as how do the spaces shown in the photographs affect our sen ses? What makes a space embryonic? Are spaces landscapes? What is the ditference, it any, between a geographical landscape and a landscape of the body? Is magnitude the only parameter that separates portraits from landscapes? How virtual would a landscape be if its magnitude and content were unknown? Can a landscape exist without a viewer? Can the ' unfilled' space in a photograph become the center of meaning? How do we know what is the reality of an image? Can such a reality evolve by consensus? What are the bases of power and information that shape our perceptions? Photographic images are not the objects they represent and their realities must remain necessarily suspect until they are validated, partly by defining their content, context, scale


and even the intention of the pho-

Mexico City. The former has made

it to wither. Another method consists of

tographer and the viewer. By itself,

radiographs of flowers using low-

x-raying the flower without treating it previously with the iodized salt solu-

photography may not escape from

power X-rays, with a device, which

an uncertainty principie by which it

functions with a voltage of up to 40

tion, though with this process, even

is not possible to simultaneously

kV. The latter has for many years

know the precise time and reality

been creating what he has chris-

with the same exposure factors, the picture obtained lacks sharpness and

(place, subject or thing) depicted in

tened " Floral Rontgengraphs" in

detai/ of those employing the former

a photograph. Indeed, in the

homage to the discoverer of what

technique. / Tr. R. Moszka

absence of complete information,

were originally called "cathode-rays" ,

'real' images beco me abstractions

i.e. x-rays. Besides being a useful tool

GOETHE'S PRISM

that ca n challenge our perceptions

in the study of the internal structure

Xavier Lozoya, Jorge A. Sosa

and knowledge, alerting our imagi-

of flowers, the plates, which radiolo-

Melgarejo and Erlka Rivera Arce

nation. Of all visual abstractions, it is

gist Saldaña has made, are artworks

possible that only certain biomorphic

possessing a disturbing beauty of

Ught is the firsr corporeol form that,

image¡ remain unexpectedly 'real'

their own.

spreading in every direction from a single point, forms a sphere from which matter

for our biological brains, even in the

To obtain his rontgengraphs of

deepest abstraction of a virtual

roses, carnations, orchids and calla

arises. AII of material creotion is but con-

world . Such images may exude an

lilies -to mention but a few of the

densed light.

ed embryonic development and

flowers he has used- Saldaña utilizes

Robert Grosseteste, Bíshop of Uneoln,

mutations imply during evolution.

the following procedure:

England, On Ught, 1229.

and real: our imagination or Nature?

The flower stalk is submerged in a solution of 500 mi water and 60 mi of

Most authorities locate the extraordi-

FLORAL RÓNTGENGRAPHS

tri-iodine salts (the contrast medium) for 3 hours, long enough for the flower

x-rays, in addition to their valuable

to absorb the solution. Afterward it is placed in the X-ray device, an 800 MAS

inescapable and perennial reality that our minds recognize as belonging to our world and magnitude. Other images may lack such reality, but our minds endow them with it in the search for familiar pattems, since the identity of what we see is modified by our knowledge, beliefs and thought. In this sense, developing photographs of embryos has a double meaning as their chemical development gives new life to the instant arrested in the photograph. Perhaps the multiple meanings that our brains can assign to such photographs are a reflection of the possibilities that the occurrence of repeat-

What would then be more wonderful

applications in medical research and diagnostic procedures, have been used in diverse fields, including artistic exploration. This is the case of the work undertaken by Albert G. Richard, professor of dentistry at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and Raúl Saldaña Lobato, Mexican radiology technician at the imaging department of the ABe Hospital in

(milliamp) mastograph equipped with an ionizing chamber, loaded with MINR 2000 (mammographic radiology) film with an exposure factor of 25 MAS and 28 Kv, and radiographs are taken of

nary, multifaceted Johan Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) within the realm of literature, mainly for his

Faust and the far-reaching implications of this literary work. However, Goethe was also a distinguished scientist, though this part of his th inking is not as widely known . Of his scientific writings, whose arduous translations from German to Spanish

the flower's different sections. The flower may be left in the solution for

were published in Mexico by the

hours or days, but it should be noted that the iodized salts eventually cause

house, his Theory of (olors (1810-

61

now-defunct Aguilar publishing 1820) is of particular note. Aceording


to Goethe himself, this work came about when he attempted, unsuccessfully, to reproduce certain experiments described by Newton, a failure which led him to delve into the study of light and colors for many years, a study which in turn produced a wealth of scientific and philosophical reflections. Goethe's most famous experiment is to have placed a glass prism in front of his eye in the path of a ray of sunlight and tried to project the colors of the "spectrum" on the white wall in front of him . Goethe saw nothing but whiteness. However, when he pointed the same prism towards the window whose dark frame contrasted with the grayish sky, on the edge between light and darkness, the spectrum's vivid colors appeared. Goethe thus discovered that light as well as darkness was necessary to produce prismatic colors and that the simplest arrangement for the phenomenon to occur was to aim the beam upon the boundary between light and dark areas . This led him to explain various luminous phenomena -such as the formation of colors in rainbows, at dawn and dusk and why and how specific colors -purple, blue, red and yellow- were distributed in each case. His vision of the world and far-reaching artistic sensibility put him in a peculiar place as a scientist, at a time when the division between art and science had begun, precisely beca use of the influence of thinkers such as Newton and others, whom Goethe called "mechanicists" (today, reductionists) and with whose ideas he took issue. If we follow Goethe's reasoning concerning color we will not come across models which describe light as waves or particles, but rather a perception of those relationships between light and darkness which generate color, concepts regarding the luminosity of living beings, the importance of light in matter, the inner light of the

eye and brain, light produced by chemical reactions, etc. -all matters which are notably relevant and topical to this day. Goethe's ideas about light and colors are little known in today's scientific milieu beca use ever since their conception, in the early nineteenth century, they deviated from the rationalist scientific models that were so prevalent among his contemporaries and their successors. This explains why his theories were systematically disregarded by those who preferred mathematical la nguage to sensory experience and physical models to archetypal ones. However, with the passing of centuries, we are able to realize that Goethe posits at the crux of his reasoning an idea which can be better understood today: that science in its search for knowledge accesses other spaces of the creative process, and migrates from amazement to interest and then to intuition. Goethe lends an important value to this last condition as a sensory phenomenon, calling it "moderate empiricism," thus proposing a strategy for approaching scientific activity that contrasts with blind, obstinate rationalism. Finally, according to Goethe, science merges with art practice beca use both are activities that nourish a person's process of Bildung or self-transformation. In Goethe's own words: "[ ...] we have learned that natural organs such as the eye need the imagination to see. If blind peopie need something besides physical resources to see, how much more certain must this lesson be as far as the cognitive organs which allow us to "see" the laws of nature are concerned. To possess the vision of the constant principies within the multiplicity of natural phenomena one requires suitable internal organs; these are not innate, but are rather developed during one's life. We must not confuse these aptitudes with analytical ability or logic, as valuable 62

as the latter may be. In addition to analytical reasoning, all of us scientists depend on a kind of 'vision: an intuitive capacity that must be trained by means of reflexive experience. Only thus may one behold what others might never see, though they may be observing the same phenomena. It is in this manner that scientists make their observations and discoveries; this vision can be refined and enhanced. Like a telescope or a microscope, cognitive organs focus on the remote edges of new regions and through them perceive the essence of things. One does not apprehend the laws of nature nor make scientific discoveries solely by means of analytical reasoning [... ] since no science was ever born if not by means of a poetic perception ." Along the same lines, Arthur Zajonc, the famous theoretical physicist, states in his book Catching the Light: the Entwined History of Light and Mind (1 995) that: "Perhaps, at

least as far as light is concerned, the most fundamental feature might not be the smallness of its composition, but rather its totality, its incorrigible capacity to be one and many things, particle and wave, an individual thing which carries the universe inside it." Goethe had reached the same conclusion regarding the peculiar characteristics of what we call "Iight." The philosopher Schopenhauer once wrote down a noteworthy conversation he had with Goethe about light. Schopenhauer suggested that light was a purely subjective, psychological phenomenon, and that without the sense of sight it could not be said that light existed. The philosopher records Goethe's angry rebuttal: "'What?' he exclaimed, riveting his lively eyes on me, ' Light only exists to the extent that it is seen? No! You would not exist if light did not see you! '" Since Goethe was also a botanist he was well aware of light's vital power and its


importance for plants; moreover, he

dreds of microscopic cuts made of it;

used to illuminate the object. The

understood that not only did it give

it is then possible to observe how the

plant contains substances, molecules

life to plants; it was life in and of

computer reorganizes all the light

which react differently to light, pro-

itself. He spoke, without metaphor,

images and reconstructs, on screen,

ducing diverse fluorescent colors.

of an " inner light" within allliving

the three-dimensional representation

These luminous substances form part

things, and referred to " physiologi-

of the leaf.

cal, physical and chemical" light as forms of manifestation of life. And what if Goethe's pointed

of the very structure of the plant and

For us to be able to see the

cells, vessels, glands, hair, tunnels,

microscopic composition of any

canals, walls, and blue, green, yel-

object depends on a single property

low, red or purple corpuscles can be

observations were not merely con-

of matter: that it be excited by the

observed due to their particular

ceptual, philosophically attractive?

impact of the laser beam and gener-

chemical composition. Thus, the

What if living beings all emitted

ate its own light, i.e. produce fluores-

plant's microscopic image is turned

light? How could we know? We

cence. It may seem surprising that

into a landscape of unexpected

would have to see it. Today confocal

this property is shared by all living

beauty, forming unusual contrasts of

scanning laser microscopy allows us

things, though plants fluoresce with

color against the dark, light-absorb-

particular intensity. In a microscope

ing background.

to do just that. Confocal scanning microscopy is

of this kind, laser beams are used to

We have thus managed to atta in

a technique that allows one to see

sean the specimen under examina-

Goethe's vision o On the very edge

light in objects. A beam of light -a

tion point by point. A laser source

between light and darkness, colors

fu se and shine revealing the intrinsic

laser- is turned into something hi-

aims high-intensity incident light

therto unthinkable: a knife that

upon a small area of the object,

light of live matter, as the human

"cuts" the object without touching

which in turn emits light in the form

eye beholds the fascinating beauty of

it, a sharp blade that slices through

of fluorescence. The resultant signal

nature's luminous landscape. The

matter without damaging it. The

is received by a photo multiplier

artistry of plants reveals itself to our

laser can cut layers the thickness of a

tube: the focal aperture of the micro-

gaze. / Tr. R. Moszka

few microns, and can literally pass

scope's "Iens" is strategically located

through anything, while a photode-

in front of and on the same plane as

Excerpted from the soon to be pub-

tector captures the signals of the

this detector (hence the term " con-

lished Mirada encendida: revelaci贸n vege-

matter excited by light, transforming

focal") in such a way that the illumi-

tal del arte, by X. Lozoya,

it into digital signals which are

nated point is in focus while all out-

Melgarejo and E. Rivera Arce, Mexico City,2001.

rearranged by a computer to form

of-focus light is filtered out. A series

the virtual image of the sectioned

of precise signals enters the comput-

object on the monitor's screen. With

er's memory, which then orders

this process, it is possible to place a

them to reconstruct the entire

flower, a leaf, a root, a stem, a seed

image, which is finally presented to

-fresh or dried, dead or alive- and,

the viewer by means of a standard

without incising, dyeing or fastening

video process with an incredible

them, to observe them under a

degree of sharpness and depth of

microscope at specific depths of res-

neld. The researcher places the plant

olution, in images devoid of out-of-

in the microscope's laser chamber

focus information. Moreover, a leaf

and chooses the different types of

recently plucked from a tree can be

laser (i.e. of light at different magni-

placed in the instrument and hu n-

tudes of frequency), which will be

63

J. A.

Sosa


c

E

N

T

R

o

EXPOSICIONES EN EL CENTRO LA ADORACiÓN DE LOS REYES, ALIENíGENAS Y OTROS GLOCALlSMOS EN 3D. • Rubén Ortii Fotógrafo, pintor, videoasta e instala~or.: Ha realizado más de 10 exposi-

ciones individuales en México y Estados Unidos. Su trabajo ha sido incluido en 90 exhibiciones colectivas de las cuales destacan la X Bienal de Sidney, Australia, Thinking Print en el Museum of Modern Art 'de Nueva York y Trode Routes en el New Museum of Contemporary Art. Este año tendremos una exposición retrospectiva de este artista polifacético y multidisciplinario. Del 22 de noviembre de 2001 al 10 de febrero de 2002

ÁLBUM . • Ana Casas Broda Partiendo de su libro Álbum, publicado por Mestizo, Ana Casas explora en esta exposición, tres conceptos - la casa, el cuerpo y la memoriautilizá ndolos como ejes para reflexionar sobre los procesos de con- . strucción de la identidad . Desde tres soportes distintos - los álbumes familiares, el video y la fotografía-, la muestra nos permite adentrarnos en la intimidad de la autora, en sus obsesiones, en las simetrías de su vida y la de su abuela y en el uso que ambas hacen del autorretrato para fijar en imágenes sus vivencias. Del 22 de noviembre de 20010/10 de febrero de 2002

OBSESIONES. • Retrospectiva de Youssef Nabil Youssef Nabil, fotógrafo egipcio autodidacta, de 28 años, fue aprendiz de dos reconocidos fotógrafos,

o

E

l

A

David Lachapelle y Mario Testino. En su trabajo pretende explorar verdades escondidas a partir de una original perspectiva; su visión es la del glamour. Nabil trabaja generalmente en blanco y negro, y en algunas ocasiones combina sus fotografías con colores brillantes, pintados meticulosamente a mano. Del 22 de noviembre de 2001 016 de enero de 2002

LA SALA DEL CIELO La Sala del Cielo es un laboratorio multi-mediático artístico dedicado a la investigación, producción, crítica y exhibición de arte contemporáneo y nuevas tecnologías. Convocatorias: Proyectos en Línea La Sala del Cielo convoca a artistas de nuevos medios, cooperativas y curadores independientes a elaborar propuestas de exhibición que partan de la Internet, la utilicen o cuest;onen como medio artístico. E tema es libre y el único requisito es que las obras pueden ser presentadas a través de la Internet. Video La Sala del Cielo convoca a artistas y curadores de arte en video a realizar propuestas para nuestra programación 2001-2002. Tanto la temática como el formato son libres. Se aceptarán propuestas de videoproyecciones, video-instalaciones, video digital y ciclos de video. Residencias La Sala del Cielo ofrece residencias a artistas, curadores, críticos e investigadores para la producción de proyectos. El objetivo de las residen-

64

M

A

G

E

N

cias es fomentar y explorar críticamente el uso de nuevas tecnologías en la producción artística. Se aceptarán proyectos de cualquier tema o disciplina incluídas las artes visuales, la danza, el teatro, la música, etc., así como proyectos multi-disciplinarios. No se ofrece apoyo económico. Ofrecemos asesoría y equipo técnico. Para las convocatorias de proyectos en línea, video y residencias, los proyectos deberán incluir una descripción, muestras de trabajos anteriores y un Cv. Los proyectos seleccionados recibirán apoyo y asesoría para su producción, y serán incluídos ya sea en nuestra programación o nuestras publicaciones en CD. La Sala del Cielo t/f +52.5709 .6095 ext. 129 Centro de la Imagen scielo@conaculta.gob.mx Plaza de la Ciudadela # 2 martes a sábados de 10.00 a 17.00 hrs . México DF 06040 Coordinación: Antonio Outón Aseso ría : James Ronald Young VISITAS GUIADAS Las visitas guiadas son gratuitas. Se realiza n de martes a sábado y tienen una duración de una hora aproximadamente. Es necesario que se reserve el día y la hora de la visita con una sema na de anticipación . Las visitas guiadas y el taller didáctico para niños se realizan los sábados de 13:00 a 15:00 horas. Para mayores informes comunicarse con Marisela Bernardino, responsable de Servicios Educativos, al teléfono 57091510 ext. 118.


La más grande porción del universo. "A lo largo de la historia, nuestra visión del mundo ha sido gobernada por los mapas. Se decía que los mapas griegos, de los cuales ninguno sobrevive, no mostraban nada más allá de la cuenca del Mediterráneo. Los mappaemundi medievales extendieron los horizontes de la humanidad y llamaron terra incognita a las regiones que escapaban a sus cartografías. Impulsado por la necesidad del comercio y la conquista, .nuestro mundo fue mapeado hace unos 200 años, más o menos el mismo tiempo en que comenzamos a encontrar nuevos planetas dentro de nuestro sistema solar. Desde entonces, hemos ubicado las posiciones de las estrellas más cercanas y descubierto que vivimos en una galaxia, una de las muchas que viajan en el espacio en expansión ." Con estas referencias al pasado de nuestras cartas geográficas y espaciales, el viernes 29 de enero de 1999, la página web de la BBC de Londres, Inglaterra, acompañó la noticia de la existencia de un nuevo mapa, una imagen que abarcaba y codificaba la más grande porción del universo hasta ahora cartografiada . A partir de una investigación que cubrió todo el espacio celeste, llevada a cabo por el Satélite Astronómico de Luz Infrarroja (IRAS, por sus siglas en inglés), un equipo internacional de astrónomos había cartografiado las posiciones de 15,500 galaxias y, con la información compilada, procesado un mapa en tres dimensiones. "Es, por mucho, el ma pa más grande de cualqu ier cosa . No existe nada parecido en su escala", dijo a la BBC el profesor Carlos S. Frenk, astrofísico mexicano de la Universidad de Durham . Al equipo de investigadores encabezado por Frenk le llevó una década conformar esta amb iciosa carta, la cual cubre una esfera de radio de 850 millones de años luz. Gigantesca para la escala humana, esta región no representa sino una pequeña fracción del universo, alrededor de 1/3000 parte. "Este no es un mapa virtual, realizado por computadora, sino un mapa real. Hicimos un mapa tridimensional de la distribución de galaxias en nuestro contorno cósmico, pero los datos proceden del universo real. Se obtuvieron con la ayuda de varios telescopios, en distintos países del mundo. Fue a partir de esa información que se construyó la imagen en la computadora ", explicaría, meses más tarde, en una entrevista realizada para "Las puertas del conoci m iento", serie televisiva dirigida por Luis Lupone. Ante este cineasta y el escritor Carlos Chimal, Frenk recordó, emocionado, el silencio que se había adueñado de los cartógrafos cósmicos cuando aquella imagen digital empezó a emerger, poco a poco, en el monitor de la computadora. Observar por vez primera aquel modelo t ridimensional, imagen posible del rincón del universo al que pertenece nuestra Vía Láctea, había sido para este investigador, quien se ha especializado en el estudio de la formación de las galaxias, " un momento único" : el final de un c/ick disparado desde hacía diez años, memoria de una luz m illones de veces más antigua e invisible para la mirada desnuda .



Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.