Sunday, June 19, 2011

Transparent animals as art

The technique of 'clearing and staining' is used to prepare anatomical specimens of small animals to show their bones and cartilage in situ. It involves digesting away the protein in a preserved animal body with enzymes, and rendering them transparent with other chemicals. The skeleton is then colored with brightly colored stains, creating specimens that look almost like stained glass and definitely as beautiful (if somewhat macabre).

Japanese artist Iori Tomita has been making cleared and stained specimens since 2007. His project, called New World Transparent Specimen, is his effort to "help people feel closer to the wonders of life." Much of the appeal of his works, he points out, is because "they appear as if they were beautifully sculpted from minerals."

(Source: New World Transparent Specimen website.)
The website is definitely worth a look. I've always found anatomy to be oddly compelling. Quite a few of them are invertebrates (like the shrimp in the picture above), which I've not seen before as cleared specimens. The technique is typically used to prepare fish, amphibians, and other small vertebrates.

(via sarzha)

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