In an exhibition entitled 'Cleared,' University of Washington Biology Professor Adam Summers exposes the elegant anatomy of fish using colorful dyes and other chemicals. Though these scientific images are primarily used to examine the structure and development of particular tissues, Summers blends art with science in this special photographic series that pairs each artistically rendered image with poetry written by his colleague Sierra Nelson.
To prepare each specimen, Summers first uses two different colored dyes as staining agents: Alcian Blue to highlight cartilaginous elements and Alizarin Red S to turn mineralized tissue a bright red. Then, he lightly bleaches the fish to remove dark pigments before dissolving the flesh with Trypsin, a digestive enzyme that can remove protein while leaving collagen intact. Finally, Summers submerges each specimen in glycerin on a color corrected LED light table to expose the skeleton through the skin and connective tissue. A Canon 5D Mark III camera with a 100mm Macro lens is used to photograph each fish.
By exposing the skeleton and soft tissues, each image provides fish biologists with important anatomical models that can help explain the developmental trajectory of various fish. The preparation process can range anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the thickness of the fish. The exhibition, which features fourteen different specimens, will be on display at the Seattle Aquarium until Spring 2014.
Via My Modern Met