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Paintings on the Sense of Sight

Frames per Second.  25" x 33", mixed media, 2002.  $1600 framed plus tax and shipping.

Rods and Cones capture many images per second, like a film, when seeing, and transmit the images to the brain.  With each frame captured, a slice peels off of the top of the rod or cone, slides down the back of the eye.  It can not be reused where it sits on the top of the rod or cone, because this would produce an acid.  Therefore, new discs must be formed at the bottom and pushed up to the top of the rod or cone.  It is like a film is taking place at the back of our eye.

Scientist David Papermaster, personal communication, put it this way:
"Disks are shed in packets of about 100 so we shed about 10% of our rods for breakfast and 10% of our cones for dinner. During the subsequent hours, new disks are added at the bottom so that rods are at full length by sundown, when they are used, and cones are at full length by dawn when they are
used.  So looking at the top of the inner segment reveals the site where the molecules of rhodopsin are docked prior to their being sent along the cilium to the outer segment where new disks are formed at the bottom."

Electron microscope image from 

Fine Structure of a Periciliary Ridge Complex of Frog Retinal Rod Cells Revealed by Ultrahigh Resolution Scanning Electron Microscopy, J Cell Biol (1983) 96 (1): 265–276.

The Evolution of Sight.  30" x 40", oil on canvas, 1991.  Private collection.


There is a type of bacteria, Cyanobacteria, that uses light to produce energy. On its surface, there is a field of proteins that can capture light. This protein is probably related to the same types of proteins which are in our eyes. Bacteria use a protein called "Bacteriorhodopsin", and humans have a protein called "rhodopsin", and they are very similar in structure.


Special thanks to George Turner for consultation on this painting.

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