Dr Farah Ahmed, IAC & Dr Daniel Martin-Vega, DLS, NHM, London, Dr Jill Middleton ANU Department of Applied Mathematics, Canberra, Dr Ajay Limaye, ANU VizLab, NCI, Canberra ArtsACT Project Grant, an ACT Government initiative
Metamorphosis is a transformative, aesthetically beautiful time-lapse experience that provides a unique perspective of a virtual pupating fly. It is a result of my creative research into scientific visualisation of volumetric, or ‘virtual’ data acquired from 3D microcomputed X-ray tomography (3D Micro-CT) . This work is not mesh framed, nor surface rendered. Instead, I use an open-source volumetric exploration software 'Drishti' developed by Dr Ajay Limaye at the ANU Vizlab and National Computational Infrastructure (NCI). I has been closely involved with this software development since its inception in 2006, and my research direction to incorporate time-lapse has informed this software ability. Metamorphosis responds to my 2015 residency in London at the Natural History Museum, where I observed the current forensic research into fly pupa development for post-mortem analysis using 3D Micro-CT. Maggots are more commonly associated with death and decay, but like caterpillars they undergo a period of transition before emerging as exquisite insects. The puparium is just one stage in many in the life cycle of the fly, and it has been difficult to measure because it occurs inside the opaque carapace. To capture and reveal this magical transformation of the pupa inside the larval carapace I worked with researchers to align ten static 3D Micro-CT datasets representing incremental stages of development. Using Drishti I then created a translucent surface and interpolated the data to make a moving image that reveals the subtle development of the internal and external features of the fly as a smooth time-lapse sequence. The making of Metamorphosis is undertaken though my own creative interdisciplinary research, and the benefits to the scientists studying larvae development has been of equal value.