I am interested in drawings that convey information. I like the feeling of looking at an illustration and understanding the basic flow, sequence, or layout, even if the subject matter is entirely unfamiliar. Diagrams sacrifice complexity for information, and sometimes sacrifice accuracy in order to fulfill the single purpose of focusing the viewer on particular bits of information. Stephen Jay Gould, in defense of artistic liberties, said we should consider scientific illustrations "foci for modes of thought", as opposed to literal representations.
The desire to draw something beautifully or skillfully is often at odds with the conveyance of information. Albertus Seba's entire 17th-C. collection of natural curiosities was nearly discredited after several nature plates he commissioned turned out to have swapped body parts between species or, in some cases, represented fictional creatures altogether. Despite the beauty of these drawings, their content was key to their popularity--they introduced people to a variety of living creatures that tested the limits of credulity.
I am interested in the decisions made by traditional scientific illustrators, often field scientists whose artistic skills were developed by necessity on location. While the goal is to portray some aspect of a process or organism accurately, the practice of rearranging non-diagnostic features to make a drawing interesting or beautiful is well within the norm, though accuracy is sometimes sacrificed. In the tradition of single-purpose diagrams, I try to use the vernacular of 19th and 20th-C. textbook diagrams and nature plates to make something interesting and credible.
Artist Bio / CV
Doug lives in Brooklyn and has published work in art and literary journals, including:
2011 Specs 4: "pinkfish" (1 page)
2008 Esopus 10: “Doug McNamara’s Biodiversions” (16 pages)
2008 Meatpaper 2: “Quality Control Systems in the Meat Industry” (1 page)
2007 Jubilat 12: “Portfolio” (8 pages)
2007 No One Can See Themself in You by Matthea Harvey (Illustrated Chapbook)