Japanese artist Iori Tomita transforms the scientific technique of preserving and dying organisms into an art form with this series entitled New World Transparent Specimens. The images give us an breathtaking look at the inner workings of underwater life.
The process Tomita goes through is extremely extensive. First, he removes the scales and skin that have been preserved in formaldehyde. He then soaks the creatures in a stain that dyes the cartilage blue. Tomita uses a digestive enzyme called trypsin, along with a host of other chemicals, to break down the proteins and muscles, halting the process just at the moment they become transparent. The bones are stained with red dye, and the specimen is preserved in a jar of glycerin. From start to finish, the entire production takes about five months to a year.
“People may look at my specimens as an academic material, a piece of art, or even an entrance to philosophy,” says Tomita. “There is no limitation to how you interpret their meaning. I hope you will find my work as a ‘lens’ to project a new image, a new world that you’ve never seen before.”