ASTRAL PROJECTION: THEORIES OF METAPHOR, PHILOSOPHIES OF SCIENCE, AND THE ART O F SCIENTIFIC VISUALIZATION
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This thesis provides an intellectual context for my work in computational scientific visualization for large-scale public outreach in venues such as digitaldome planetarium shows and high-definition public television documentaries. In my associated practicum, a DVD that provides video excerpts, 1 focus especially on work I have created with my Advanced Visualization Laboratory team at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (Champaign, Illinois) from 2002-2007. 1 make three main contributions to knowledge within the field of computational scientific visualization. Firstly, I share the unique process 1 have pioneered for collaboratively producing and exhibiting this data-driven art when aimed at popular science education. The message of the art complements its means of production: Renaissance Team collaborations enact a cooperative paradigm of evolutionary sympathetic adaptation and co-creation. Secondly, 1 open up a positive, new space within computational scientific visualization's practice for artistic expression—especially in providing a theory of digi-epistemology that accounts for how this is possible given the limitations imposed by the demands of mapping numerical data and the computational models derived from them onto visual forms. I am concerned not only with liberating artists to enrich audience's aesthetic experiences of scientific visualization, to contribute their own vision, but also with conceiving of audiences as co-creators of the aesthetic significance of the work, to re-envision and re-circulate what they encounter there. Even more commonly than in the age of traditional media, on-line social computing and digital tools have empowered the public to capture and repurpose visual metaphors, circulating them within new contexts and telling new stories with them. Thirdly, I demonstrate the creative power of visaphors (see footnote, p. 1) to provide novel embodied experiences through my practicum as well as my thesis discussion. Specifically, I describe how the visaphors my Renaissance Teams and I create enrich the Environmentalist Story of Science, essentially promoting a counter-narrative to the Enlightenment Story of Science through articulating how humanity participates in an evolving universal consciousness through our embodied interaction and cooperative interdependence within nested, self-producing (autopoetic) systems, from the micro- to the macroscopic. This contemporary account of the natural world, its inter-related systems, and their dynamics may be understood as expressing a creative and generative energy—a kind of consciousness-that transcends the human yet also encompasses it.
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