THE MORPHOLOGY PROJECT ART-SCIENCE EXPLORATIONS OF BIOLOGICAL SHAPE ANALYSIS AND EVOLUTION

1 03 2009

By ROB O’NEILL

INTRODUCTION

Morphology, within the field of biology, refers to the outward appearance of an organism or taxon and its component parts. As a means of quantifying morphology, morphometrics is the collection of methods used to collect measurements from shapes and perform statistical analysis on the variation. This paper introduces the concepts and history behind morphology and morphometrics as a backdrop to the subsequently described art-science explorations undertaken by the author in the Morphology Project. In particular, “dataFace”, the most recent installment of the Morphology Project is detailed as an example of how a large scientific dataset can be harnessed using custom and existing tools as a means of artistic exploration and scientific inquiry. Morphometrics is an untapped area for the arts. By utilizing these ideas and their accompanying methodologies, artists have the ability to analyze shape mathematically and to wield large biological shape databases as a medium. This interplay has the potential to enhance both the arts and sciences.

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