Aulosphaera Elegantissima

May 25th, 2013, 2pm

I know it’s hard to believe, but you’re looking at blown glass. This is the work of Léopold and Rudolf Blaschka (father & son). They made it their lives’ mission to create and sell as many anatomically correct models of living beings (mostly marine lifeforms and flowers) as humanly possible – choosing glass as their medium. From 1871 - 1936 they produced thousands of models, the largest collection still in existence being the one at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. The level of craftsmanship here is stunning. As to how they did it, exactly, no one really knows, because they kept mum till their very deaths (in 1895 and 1939 respectively).

Luckily, the university of Tübingen, Germany has some of the models as well, and since I live in Tübingen, I was able to see them on two different occasions. Another stroke of luck hit when I put my shots of Aulosphaera Elegantissima through some digital filters. Seeing this magnificent single cell organism enlarged to the size of a soccer ball in plain daylight is fascinating enough, but digital trickery made the model light up like the sun in a lonely, all black universe.

This image was part of my photo exhibition Die verbesserte Natur (“On improving nature”) and the short, German speaking movie I made about it.

Adrian, Peter and Christine said thanks.

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Marcus Hammerschmitt

Writer, journalist and photographer. Eighteen books so far, on paper and on screen. My biography is boring, my life is not.

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