When a small bug landed on Dr. Igor Siwanowiczs hand and began fiercely digging its mandibles into his skin, he didnt swat it away. Instead, he removed a tiny test tube from his pocket and captured it as a potential subject for his photomicrography passion. Little did he know at the time, but this chance meeting with the Common Green Lacewing would lead to Dr. Siwanowicz being named the winner of the 2011 Nikon International Small World competition. Nikon Small World recognizes excellence in photomicrography - photography through the microscope - honoring images that successfully showcase the delicate balance between difficult scientific technique and exquisite artistic quality. The twenty prize-winning mages from the 2011 Nikon International Small World Competition are featured in an exhibition which is on view to the public at the Morris Museum
from June 15 through August 5, 2012.
A Stunning World Seen Through the Microscope
The Nikon Small World Competition is regarded as the leading forum for showcasing the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope. Combining microscopy and photography, a photomicrographer is able to capture a glimpse of a world unseen by the naked eye. A photomicrograph may be of great technical significance and, at the same time, a sheer beauty to contemplate. For 37 years, Nikon has rewarded the world's best photomicrographers who make critically important scientific contributions to life sciences, bio-research and materials science. In 2011, over 1,700 qualified entries were received, representing 68 countries and a myriad of subject materials and techniques.
Top honors in the competition went to Dr. Igor Siwanowicz for a micrograph that demonstrates the beauty in ugly. My art causes a dissonance for its viewer - a conflict between the culturally imprinted perception of an insect as something repulsive and ugly with a newly-acquired admiration of the beauty of its form, said Dr. Siwanowicz, who completed his doctoral studies in protein crystallography but now works in invertebrate photography for research. My hope is that in some way, my photomicrographs prompt people to realize the presence of cultural programming, question it, and eventually throw it off as an illusion. I am so pleased to be recognized by Nikon Small World for this philosophy, but also the technical expertise it required to capture this photo.
This years judges included top science and media industry experts: Alan Boyle, Science Editor, MSNBC.com; Dan Vergano, Science Columnist, USA Today; Simon Watkins, Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chairman for Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at the University Of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Founder and Director of The University of Pittsburgh Center for Biological Imaging; Richard Day, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology, Indiana University School of Medicine; and Michael W. Davidson, Director of the Optical and Magneto-Optical Imaging Center at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University.