Work In Progress Seminar with Dr. Catelijne Coopmans


Topic: Eyes That Tell Stories

Speaker: Dr. Catelijne Coopmans

Recently, the Red Dot Design Museum housed an exhibition called Eyes That Tell Stories. At its centre were fourteen artistically rendered iris scans of well-known Singaporeans, among whom Lee Kuan Yew, Gurmit Singh and Eunice Olsen. Visitors to the exhibition were invited to discover the ‘story’ behind each eye, and also to reflect on the importance of eye health and eye research. In my talk, I will share my analysis of this exhibition, and its relevance to my ongoing study of how eye researchers in Singapore provide clinical eye images with new uses and meanings. In particular, I will highlight how the exhibition demonstrates our collective investment in ‘seeing’ as a way of knowing and understanding - as well as some of the ironies that lie therein.

The Tembusu (Fagraea fragrans) is a large evergreen tree in the family Gentianaceae. It is native to Southeast Asia. Its trunk is dark brown, with deeply fissured bark, looking somewhat like a bittergourd. It grows in an irregular shape from 10 to 25m high. Its leaves are light green and oval in shape. Its yellowish flowers have a distinct fragrance and the fruits of the tree are bitter tasting red berries, which are eaten by birds and fruit bats.