Little can be seen of an insect’s fine detail when viewed by the human eye, but this new exhibition by British photographer Levon Biss, takes this micro detail to a stunning new level.
This exhibition features large scale images printed by Genesis Imaging, with their JETRIX printer producing the biggest pieces, featuring some of the most beautiful, surprising, and often outright bizarre microscopic form of insects. The exhibition at the Museum of Natural History in Oxford forms part of the Museum’s Visions of Nature year in 2016.
Titled Microsculpture, the exhibition reveals images of selected specimens from the museum’s collection like they have never been seen before, in large-format detail. Some of the largest Microsculpture photographic prints measure up to three metres across and surround the visitor, alongside the tiny insect specimens themselves to give a huge transformation of scale to offer a unique viewing experience.
The chosen specimens were carefully selected by Dr James Hogan, an entomologist in the Museum’s Life Collections, to reveal the array of sculptural forms visible in insects at the microscopic level. Visitors can view the intricate shapes and colours of the creatures up close in the pin-sharp photographs, before stepping back to take in the beauty of the insect as a whole.
Each picture is created from around 8,000 individual photographs. Segments of the specimen are lit and photographed separately, ‘stacked’ to maintain sharp focus throughout, then combined into a single high-resolution file which is then printed.
The involved process is outlined further by Levon Biss: “I photograph the insect in approximately 30 different sections, depending on the size of the specimen. Each section is lit differently with strobe lights to bring out the micro-sculptural beauty of that particular section of the body. For example, I will light and shoot just one antenna, then I will move on to the eye and the lighting set up will change entirely to suit the texture and contours of that part of the body. This process continues until I have covered the whole surface area of the insect.”
Combining art with science, the exhibition also provides information about each creature in the show, where possible discussing the evolutionary adaptations that have given rise to its particular micro sculpture form.
As Ben Woodruff, Head of National Sales at InkTec says: “When I saw the fine level of detail in these images when visiting Genesis Imaging, I was blown away by the intricacies revealed of these insects. The lighting just adds to the definition and it is fantastic to see some of these being produced on a JETRIX printer for this exhibition.”