Photographing the science museum

 118 268204813 B280043824
Photographer Meera Sethi has written a nice essay about taking photos in science museums. Sethi is part of Utata, a collective of photographers who met via Flickr. Indeed, be sure to check out Sethi's "Muse" science museum photo set on Flickr. (Seen here, "Together Forever," taken at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.) From "Photographing the Science Museum":
Is there anyone who doesn't feel a certain frisson of excitement when they see something organic preserved in a glass jar? I don't know exactly what it is, but I suspect it might have something to do with certain cultural associations we all carry around in our heads, some strange common currency that comes from years of watching mad scientist movies late at night.That might be me in there, I find myself thinking. If some other intellectually curious species with opposable thumbs and access to the secrets of chemistry had come to dominate the planet instead of my own, that might be my shriveled body all scrunched up in there–my brain at whose familiar whorls some creature with a purple exoskeleton would now be leering through the glass, wondering how on earth it could be so very...grey.

Mostly, though, what I love about standing in front of these heavy jars is how much easier they make it to observe the world I love so much, in close detail. Time pauses, temporarily. The barriers between me and the mysteries of this earth fall, temporarily. Nothing else matters except looking, and everything about the place where I am is designed to make it easier to look–and to see. I see that this barnacle has claws like a dragon's. I see that these spiders have legs like sharp needles. I see that this frog has approximately six times as many organs inside its torso as I would have thought it had room for. I try to look as much as I can, and when I have looked until I have seen, I take out my camera.
Photographing the Science Museum (Utata, via Eastern Blot)

35

  1. “Is there anyone who doesn’t feel a certain frisson of excitement when they see something organic preserved in a glass jar?”

    I’m guessing by organic, Meera doesn’t mean ‘spicy kosher dill.’

  2. And all the while on a shelf in the shed:
    KENNY’S LITTLE CREATURES ON DISPLAY!

    Ronnie saves his numies on a window in his room
    (A marvel to be seen: dysentery green)
    While Kenny & his buddies had a game out in the back:
    LET’S MAKE THE WATER TURN BLACK

  3. “We see them after school in a world of their own.
    To some it might seem creepy what they do.
    The neighbor on the right sat and watched them every night.
    I’ll bet you’d do the same if they was you.”

  4. Ok, Tak. That was the call. Here’s my raise:

    “It’s hidden far away
    But someday I may tell
    The tale of metal tangle
    When into your world I fell
    Without you now I wander soaking
    Secretly afraid
    cause in your grasp the fears dont last
    (and some of them have stayed)

    I wheeled around because I
    Didnt hear what you had said
    And saw you dancing with Elihu
    Up on Leemor’s bed
    And I was foggy rather groggy
    You helped me to my car
    The binding belt enclosing me
    A sample in a jar…”

  5. Ill send an s.o.s. to the world
    I hope that someone gets my
    I hope that someone gets my
    I hope that someone gets my
    Message in a bottle, yeah

  6. “Laughter bloomed in the dark, right out of her mouth, an awful kind of laughter. She finished it, quick. ‘It’s just junk, Charlie! Rubber, papier-mache, silk, cotton, boric-acid! That’s all! ‘ she shrilled. ‘No, no!’ He sat up swiftly, ripping sheets apart in big fingers, roaring. ‘I don’t wanna hear! Don’t wanna hear!’ he bellowed, over and over. She said, ‘Wait’ll everyone hears how fake it is! Won’t they laugh! Won’t they flap their lungs!”

  7. Musha rain dum-a-doo dum-a-da, ha, ya
    Whack for my daddy-o
    Whack for my daddy-o
    There’s whiskey in the jar-o
    Yeah, whiskey, yo, whiskey…
    Oh-oh, ya

  8. [W]herever I sat Рon the deck of a ship or at a street caf̩ in Paris or Bangkok РI would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.

  9. and further;
    And with every jar that hit the bar, we swore we would remain
    And make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.

    Rise again, rise again, that her name not be lost
    To the knowledge of men.

  10. That night, after the last of the children had gone home, my wife and I sat outside drinking, each of us wrapped in a separate silence. The city lights were burning, and Joshua was sleeping in his room. A nightjar gave one long trill after another from somewhere above us.

  11. “It’s the middle of the night
    And your mommy & your daddy are sleeping
    It’s the middle of the night
    And your mommy & your daddy are sleeping
    SLEEPING
    MOM & DAD ARE SLEEPING
    SLEEPING IN A JAR…
    (The jar is under the bed)”

  12. “Ill be grazing by your window
    Please come pat me on the head
    I just want to find out what you’re nice to me for
    When I look up, don’t think I don’t know
    About all the scabs you dread
    Its hard to stomach the gore

    I know you don’t have the patience
    To peel them off no more
    In a jar where you believe
    All I could do was lick your hand
    In a jar the scars are plain to see
    I hope somehow you’ll know I understand

    I’ll be grazing by your window
    Please come pat me on the head
    I just want to find out what you’re nice to me for
    Then you smile and decide to take me in
    cause I look you by your bed
    But I can feel it just a little more

    I’ll watch you fall apart, babe you know it
    You know I’m young and stuff, babe don’t blow it
    Just unscrew the top, yeah
    Pick me up now just cant stop

    In a jar where you believe
    All I could do was lick your hand
    In a jar where scars are plain to see
    I hope somehow you’ll know I understand
    Scabs collect beneath your bureau
    From the knife wounds you got”

  13. I see all of your lyrics and raise you:

    Neutral Milk Hotel – Two Headed Boy Pt. 2

    Two-headed boy
    All floating in glass
    The sun it has passed
    Now it’s blacker than black
    I can hear as you tap on your jar

  14. Phikis-Excellent.

    I made a wish on a sliver of moonlight
    A sly grin and a bowl full of stars
    Like a kid who captures a firefly
    And leaves it only to die in the jar

  15. Can I interrupt this orgy of lyrical recitation to point out the utter science-geeky coolness of the domain name easternblot.com?

    For those unfamiliar, the Southern blot is a technique for detecting specific DNA sequences in a sample, developed by and named after Edwin Southern. From this, in a terribly wonderful display of geekish wordplay, the northern and western blots for RNA and protein, respectively were developed, and see routine use in laboratories to this day.

    There is, to date, no eastern blot…

  16. But on the topic of songs, I’m afraid the only appropriate response I can come up with is this:

    I can’t believe
    That you’re gone and we’re alone
    I can’t believe
    That we’ll never see your face
    I can’t believe
    That you’re at the gates of Heaven
    I can’t believe
    That we’ll never know you

    If only, if only
    Miracles happened every day
    If only, if only
    I could believe in something

    Helpless we cried over you
    Empty and lost over you

    How in the world
    Can they say that you’re at peace?
    How in the world
    Can they say that time will heal us?
    How in the world
    Can we hope to be forgiven?
    How in the world
    Can we know how we feel?

    If only, if only
    We could all live forever
    If only, if only
    No memories to remember

    Words were not spoken for you
    No grave marks our love for you
    Broken our hearts call for you
    No-one can blame us but you

    How in the world can we ever smile again?
    How in the world can we live without you?

    (Little InVitro by Gary Numan, written about his wife’s miscarriage.)

  17. I found the brains of Santa Claus
    Underneath my bed
    They were in a pickle jar
    I wonder if he’s dead
    Oh, the smell like dried up tuna
    And look more grey than red
    I found the brains of Santa Claus
    I’ll bet you that he’s dead

  18. Eastern blotting is the technique to detect post-translational protein modifications. The technology was developed in late 2008 and published in 2009.

Comments are closed.