May 18, 2022 - Podcast

Episode 269 — 3D imaging, and public art

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Optometry have developed an imaging system to enable 3D visual evaluation of cell-level activities involved in developmental or disease conditions of the eyes. The system combines structural and functional imaging techniques that could allow biologists to evaluate changes in cellular activity in the eyes of small animals over time. For example, scientists could tag and then follow a specific protein within a cell using the functional system and the area around the cell, such as neighboring cells, with the structural system. This could give researchers a fuller understanding of how the cells behave in their natural environment, says IU Assistant Professor Patrice Tankam. This type of investigative work not only improves scientists’ understanding of the biology of the eyes but also could become an early step in developing new medications for people. IU Research Associate Reddikumar Maddipatla says it could ultimately help scientists find a cure for certain diseases. For the next phase of development, the researchers plan to test the system on tissue samples before pursuing their ultimate goal of following cellular activity in the eyes of small animals.

In other news, well-placed art can help create community spaces in which people will want to gather. Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design faculty and students worked with local organizations and residents in two Indiana towns to revitalize spaces so that they serve as gathering places and community points of pride. Heritage Park in Salem and the 6th Street Arts Alley in Columbus use wall and ground murals to restore or create physical and figurative connections between adjacent landmarks and turn thoroughfares or disused urban spaces into destinations, fostering walkability, social interaction and business activity. Faculty and students gathered the residents’ priorities through public information sessions, newspaper reader polls and stakeholder surveys to determine how best to proceed with these public art installations. The 6th Street Arts Alley in downtown Columbus uses an abstract multi-block street painting, several building façade murals, modular seating and movable planters to create an unofficial arts plaza serving and connecting the cultural organizations situated around it, including the Columbus Area Arts Council, Landmark Columbus and the Columbus Visitors Center. Heritage Park in Salem carved a pocket park and pedestrian corridor out of a parking lot, providing a gathering place and inspiring exploration of the city. The design creates an art trail between Salem’s Central Square and the John Hay Center, a five-acre campus with a historical museum and period buildings owned and operated by the Washington County Historical Society. A street mural evoking a barn quilt pattern connects the landmarks. In addition to its regional appropriateness, the quilt reference provided conceptual underpinnings for the project. Daniel Luis Martinez, assistant professor of architecture and a lead designer for both the Salem and Columbus projects, imagined Heritage Park as a way of creating a linear stitch in the town’s urban fabric. The Heritage Park project also installed a deck with public seating along the corridor, offering the view of a newly commissioned mural honoring significant women in Washington County’s history. The projects have opened an important gateway for students and faculty to engage with communities that don’t regularly have access to forward-thinking art and design, Martinez says.