With the help of a powerful 3D microscope, the Hawaii-based photographer Gary Greenberg shoots stunning macro images of grains of sand, dissecting the seemingly uniform material into otherworldly crystals. The microscope, which the artist himself invented after earning a Ph.D. in biomedical research, magnifies the microscopic to 300 times their original size; the machine also affords the resultant images an astounding depth of field, capturing the most subtle curves and structures of the minuscule grains of sand.
Greenberg derives pleasure from the unpredictability of his process; each beach has a diverse history and therefore produces unique sand. In Maui alone, the grain shapes range from cylinders to spirals; they can be vividly colored or more muted. In the same handful of sand, we might find a tiny shell beside a microscopic mineral section that resembles an eaten corn cob.
Sand, as a substance, often operates allegorically in art, representing the impermanence of man within the shifting tides. Greenberg’s images work powerfully against that notion; here, human innovation freezes time, if only for a moment, fixing even the most minuscule objects in place. These grains of sand, many of which are likely well over thousands of years old, are crystallized for our visual pleasure; in Greenberg’s glimmering rocks, we can find traces of organic matter, now fossilized. Torn into many pieces by the tide and surf, shells, volcanic remains, and coral all intermingle on the beach shore. In Okinawa, Japan, sand is formed in part by the skeletons of single-celled creatures, visible here like strange starfish. (via HuffPost, Lost at E Minor, and Bored Panda) Read More >
In a rather intense bit of wordplay, artist Vik Muniz (whose fantastic illusory work has previously featured several times here) has teamed up with Marcelo Coelho to create intricate and near-impossibly detailed sandcastles. Taking a single grain of scan, the duo has spent four years perfecting a process of microscopically etching fortress-like castles into single grains of sand. Each piece of sand measures less than one half of a single millimeter are created using an incredibly focused ion beam (FIB – typically used to create microchips) and documented with a scanning electron microscope, later enlarged to show the incredibly fine detail of the the project.
Muniz explains why the duo uses sand, as opposed to post-photographic editing (such as photoshop), “When someone tells you it’s a grain of sand, there’s a moment where your reality falls apart and you have to reconstruct it. You have to step back and ask what the image is and what it means.’” Adds Coelho, “I think photography is just re-starting. There’s a whole new kind of photography emerging now. A lot of it is happening because of this combination between computers and cameras, and story telling and narratives can emerge as a result.”
The images of photographer Álvaro Sánchez-Montañés‘ series Indoor Desert seem like elaborate installations. However, he actually found them this way. These buildings were once part of a town named Kolmanskop in southern Namibia. It had been situated near a gold mine. When the mine ran dry it was abandoned as was the town. The strong winds quickly overtook the town filling its buildings with the sand of the nearby Namib desert. The homes now filled with desert instead of families only emphasizes each photographs loneliness and underscores the immense power of nature.