In Search of
The
Cydonia Face
Page Three
"Tricks" of Light and Shadow
From the Perspective of an Artist
Thoughts on Image Making
Or Why I Get so Flipped Out over Some of the Mars Images



Here
is the image I am using in this essay, and its invert. I have drawn lines from places on the original to the same places in the inverted image.There are vast differences between them. But the images speak for themselves.

Here
is an image of stalactites, reflected in a pool of water. This is a poor photograh, I know. But no photograph, even the slides Luray Caverns in Virginia sells, can do this reflection pool justice. The water is so clear and still, and the stalactites reflect perfectly. It is exactly like a mirror - uncanny to say the least.

Here
is the Luray Caverns Reflecting Pool in grayscale and inverted grayscale. See how deceptive all this can be. Hollow spaces become solid in the inverted image, and solid spaces, including their reflections, become empty. How would you perceive this scene if you were to look at the inverted image first? What if it were the only image you saw?

NOTE
I
hope the reader will find this little segment on image making interesting. I have added it to further emphasize that many of the Mars images need a very long second look. Even very clear detailed images need careful scrutiny. Geological images from a great height can be tricky. Over time, after looking at many images from Mars - and doing many double takes, comparisons, my own enhancements, and squinting (a technique sometimes used by artists to discern light values) - it has occured to me that one often cannot be certain one is viewing an original image. With all the enhancement, colorization - and what not, whatever - going on, we cannot be sure we are receiving a true presentation of the subject. Maybe it's just me, but some of the Mars images just do not come across as true.

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Empirical
knowledge is a strange and wonderful thing, inspiring much argument and philosophical debate. Like it or not, we use it daily. Experience and observation teach us. The experience of trial-and-error tells us what works and what does not. An empiric is one who believes that all knowledge eminates from experience (and experiment) and observation. And, interestingly, empiric also means a quack or a charlatan (usually applied to the medical arts). In its extreme, empiricism rejects all theory. At the other end of the scale, metempiricism is the science of pure reason, above and beyond the physical world of experience (experiment).
It
seems to me, one cannot operate without the other. Without imagination - the more transcendental science of theory and speculatiion - what would ever be accomplished? But then, at some point it must all be put to the test. If not then it is just a mental exercise. Somewhere in between the two extremes is probably the better path. Somewhere between the two, art and science produce a wonderful blend of creativity and knowledge. The physical practice of making art was at work when Leonardo da Vinci produced his fabulous paintings. Using his empirical knowledge, he experimented with paint and materials. And not all of his experiments were successful. It was the empiricism at work when de Vinci studied the flow of water, and when he peered inside the human body. It was his intuitive, metempirical mind, going beyond the limits of experience, that produced many of his ideas which were practically impossible to bring into being until more recent times. It was this side of him that won him favor and got him work in the courts of Europe.
When
photography firmly established its presence in the art world, many artists were horrified and much afraid. There still is an ongoing, though rapidly diminishing, debate about whether or not photography is art at all. To some it spelled doom for the portrait artist, doom for the realist, doom for the impressionist painters and their experiments in light and shadow. As things turned out their fears were unfounded. Photography did not take anything away from the visual artist. People continued to apprieciate the skill of realism, the painted portrait, the intense colors - the visual experience - of the impressionists.
What
photography did do was open the entire spectrum of the visual arts to a whole new transcendental way of creating art - from the mind - abstraction - the pyscological rather than the natural physical natural world. This new direction spread into all other aspects of art - theater, music - everything. And then, of course, came film - the moving picture. Yet another terror for the artist. Film - the ultimate captor of time and space in motion - both realistic AND abstract. The scientific and the technological found expression in the visual arts like never before. What did it all mean?
There
has always been a transcendental imaginative and theoretical factor in the making of art. And there has always been various degrees of the psycological and the political. But at this point in art history, whole new vistas of freedom opened up to the artist. And he/she had to somehow validate the abstraction, the thought behind the artwork, in new and different ways. It was no longer a matter of light theory, color theory, applications of perspective, of structured allegory and metaphore. Many images were not dealing with the empirical whatsoever. Conceptional art often produces no tangible form of art at all. This was very radical, to say the least, and understanding art became very difficult for a lot of people.
At
the end of the 20th century, we see how many many more "tricks" of light and shadow can be done with the camera - electronically. As an artist, this is awesome. As a citizen of Earth it is sometimes downright frightenning.
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Maybe
it's just me. I am a printmaker. And I love to experiment. But first I must imagine and speculate. Then I must evaluate the end result and decide whether or not it was a success. Whatever the case - and notwithstanding the optical illusions of space cameras, and telescopes - whatever the thought behind the image is, in printmaking one thing stays the same. Everything in the process of creating an image (be it monoprints, etchings, woodblocks, lithographs -- whatever) begins in reverse. Maybe there are some new photo printing methods out there, but in fine art printing if you want to print you start out with In other words, up is down. Down is up. In is out. Out is in. Left is right, etc., etc., on and on.
There
are many ways to print. But briefly, etching on paper (what Rembrandt did) usually begins with a metal plate, copper or zinc for instance. One can create an image directly on the metal. Or one can use chemicals to etch the image in the metal. In this case, a protective acid resistant ground is first applied on the metal. As one draws and makes marks in it, the image is created by removing some of the ground. Then the plate is put in an acid bath, or some other corrosive mordant. The mordant reacts with the exposed metal, dissolving it, while leaving the rest unaltered. After etching, the plate is inked and wiped. Ink remains in the recesses of the plate. Damp Paper is placed on top and the whole thing is run through a press, or printed by other methods. Under the great pressure of a printing press, and even the light pressure of a hand printing process, the paper will be pushed into the various depths of the plate. The paper will pick up the ink accordingly, and the finished print will have various degrees of embossing.
Printmaking
processes are sometimes rather difficult to grasp without visuals or physical demonstrations. A search engine will take you to the many web pages out there, discribing the processes. They may provide some interesting insights about the nature of enhanced images. Here is a very brief illustration of the etching process - of reversal and inversion.

Larger Image

Conversely
(not shown in the above figure), if ink is allowed to remain on the higher areas of the plate, the finished piece will have part, or all, of its image on those corresponding portions of the paper. This happens when ink is rolled over the plate, or dabbed onto the raised areas. In woodblock printing, where intaglio (printing by inking the recesses and cavities of the plate ) is not normally done, portions of the wood are often cut away, leaving a raised (rilievo, or relief) carving on the plate.


InversionandReversals

An "Enhanced" Image
?



An Etched Metal Plate

Here is an example of a zinc plate That has been etched in a nitric acid bath.

I scanned the plate once. In this resulting image it is easy to see that the lines of the image go down into the metal.

CLICK ON the image to see the etched lines more clearly. And notice the orientation of the angel.


The Print

Gold ink was rubbed into the etched lines, and red ink was rolled over the plate.

The resulting print has two colors. And the gold lines are slightly raised from the red background. This plate is exactly the size of the card paper it was printed on so there is no imprint or embossed effect from the sides of the plate

CLICK ON the image to see a larger view. It is rather difficult to see the embossment, but see how the angel's hands (and everything else) are the reverse of what is in the plate.

Tricky Pix
Click to see a larger view
This plate is not so easily discernable as the one above.
Tricks of light and shadow.
The ups and downs did not scan exactly true to the object being scanned.
One has to kind of sneak up on it to see it properly.
An anotated Image of Plate Above

Click on Each of these Three Images to see a Larger One

In the first image, above, ink was rolled over the hightest part of the plate.
It doesn't make a very pretty picture, and it is hard to tell what is going on in terms of image definition and embossment. The wreath is higher than green background, and the white sides are higher than the green background.

The second image has two colors inked and wiped in in various degrees. A lot of ink was removed, letting the plate, and thus the paper, show through. Then red ink was rolled over the entire plate.

The third image is the same as the second. But it is the red channel. I colorized the red channel slightly, in hopes that the details will be clearer. It doesn't matter what channel I use, just that the image is clear, and as close to the original object as possible. This was rather difficult to do with this print. I think electronically, the third image is rather nice. I may use it elsewhere. Or find an ink that will produce a print that looks similar to this image.

Embossment
Here is the same plate printed without any ink.
Aesthetically, I lke it best.

CLICK ON for larger view
This image is as true to the original object as I can get it.
It is the way it is supposed to look.
But it is NOT the original scan!
The first image below is the original scan.
The second image below, was scanned in negative.
Negative, NOT Invert

The original scan looks more like an invert.
To get the correct representation, the image that truly represents the original object, I split the channels of the the negative scan. This gave me an unchanged greyscale image, which was easier to work with. I converted the red channel to RGB color 24 bit. Then I replaced the colors with the original color of the image.
What I achieved is an image that closely depicts the original embossed Christmas card. But I had to do it by manipulation of a negative.
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Oh what a tangled web - this business of image enhancement. Why did I have to go through this round about, beat around the bush, method to get an image that truly represents the original object? Why did the first scan turn out like an inverted image? It actually looks like the backside of the embossment, except that it isn't in reverse (. . . we won't go there). The only answer -- tricks of light and shadow.
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Now, I happen to know what this thing looked like to begin with. I made the plate. And printed the image many times. I experimented with various ways of inking it. I know what worked and what did not work. For instance, I know I have to go into that plate - again! - with my tools and clean up that texture on that dang ribbon. I know which way is up and which way is down. Because I know these things firsthand I can, in all honesty, manipulate the image in order to present a true electronic rendition of the original subject.

Maybe not so easy for the first time viewers of this page. They will have to take my word for it. Maybe not so easy with the images from Mars.

The Point ?

Even though much information and assumptions about Mars are based on valid scientific knowledge and reasoning, can we take NASA's word for everything? When we look at the structures on the surface of Mars are we seeing what we empirically understand, or are we taking NASA's word for it? If we are taking NASA's word for it, are we basing that trust on logical and critical thinking? (There are those who might say that empirically, they have absolutely no reason at all to trust the information coming out of NASA.)

Do the same principles operating on Earth fully apply to another rocky planet? When is a crater not a crater - a dune not a dune? Where does image enhancement work? And when do images - enhanced or not - lie? No one, not even NASA, knows for sure. for no one has physically been to Mars! No one can claim to have experienced Mars firsthand.






What is This?


Here is another example of image enhancement.

I made it narrow (missing data) to simulate the way some of NASA's images are produced and exhibited.

This is not to find fault with their cameras and methods. It is only to use that kind of visual experience in this example.

What do you suppose this image represents?

A mountain? A glacier? Dunes?






Here it is again - different angle











And
another viewpoint











And here is the entire image.


Looks like it could be an ice shelf breaking up and heading out to sea.

Maybe these are islands.






NO!
CLICK






















Recognize this guy?

But last time I looked his face wasn't so mangled. It didn't look so much like - to quote
a certain radio show host - a "catbox".

Or lying on its back gazing at the stars.

hummmmmmm . . .

Image enhancement is a wonderful tool.

What a fabulous, efficient way for a printmaker to work out the ups and downs,

ins and outs, light and shadow, positives and negatives.

It is also a good way to work things out geologically.

- However -

Too much of a good thing can be dangerous

and - depending on your aesthetics - not very pretty.



Back to Mars

Please bear with me - a little more on sinkholes and their processes
(The big picture, and all that)


This
idea about the possiblity of some form of karst geology existing on The Face requires the presentation of other possiblities of karst topography on Mars - a kind of correlation, if you will. I am searching for this whenever I can.
The Face
may be an enclosed environment, possibly an island, with karst features. It may have sea caves and blowholes, instead of more typical karst geology. It may have features in common with other possible island remnants in the Cydonia region. It may be unique - entirely different from the rest of Cydonia.
The
morphology of the Cydonia region (including The Face) may be completely different from what is presented on the following pages, or it may share some of those characteristics. Whatever the case, it is important to keep the whole of Martian geology in mind. Keep in mind the discussion on this page as well.



Page Four