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Saul Villegas: The Norris Center Archives, a photography project

June 11 - June 12

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Art student Saul Villegas presents a photography project featuring curated specimens from the collection at UCSC’s Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History artistically designed to merge art and science. Villegas has received a 2020 Dean’s Undergraduate Research Award for his work.
“My vision for the Norris Center Archives project is to introduce the audience to the specimen collection by using dynamic digital filters to edit the photographs. By doing so, I engage the viewer with a dialogue through a fictional context of capturing the specimens’ physical objectivity in their environment and utilizing art methods to shift the viewer’s perception. Challenging the notion of how we see these specimens in alternative angles from that of scientific illustration creates an opportunity to view them as art instead of taxidermized objects. An important factor in this series was to photograph and design with different lighting situations to make the specimens appear as alive versus dead. I became interested in STEAM (Science,Technology, Engineering, the Arts, Mathematics) last quarter while working on a project that introduced science themes produced artistically to convey a scientific concept. U.S. National Library of Medicine explains, ‘Manipulative visual arts such as sketching, photography, and origami have been proposed as effective cross-training for spatial intelligence.’ By designing this project, the concept of continuing the tradition of taxonomy and the introduction of digitized art cataloging becomes a vital way to gain perspective on our understanding of natural history while remaining creative and innovative using digital editing software—leading to a variety of new ways to conduct analysis.” –Saul Villegas
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