one of the stained and preserved fish in iori tomita’s series ‘shinsekai [toumei hyouhon]’ (‘new world transparent specimens’)
japanese artist iori tomita transforms the scientific technique of preserving and dying organism specimens
into an art form with his series, ‘shinsekai [toumei hyouhon]‘ (‘new world transparent specimens’).
tomita began experimenting with the preservation and staining of fish while working as a fisherman, gradually developing
his mastery of the nuances of the process necessary for refining the form and colour of the pieces. for each specimen,
tomita first removes the scales and skin of fish that have been preserved in formaldehyde. he leaves the organism to soak
in a mixture of blue stain, ethyl alcohol, and glacial acetic acid before utilizing the enzyme trypsin to break down protein
and muscles, stopping the reaction as soon as they become transparent but before they lose their form. the bones are then
stained by soaking the fish in a combination of potassium hydroxide and red dye, before the specimen is preserved in glycerin.
‘people may look at my specimens as an academic material, a piece of art, or even an entrance to philosophy.
there is no limitation to how you interpret their meaning. I hope you will find my work as a ‘lens’ to project
a new image, a new world that you’ve never seen before.‘
left: full view; right: detail view of head
photographs of tomita’s ‘new world transparent specimens’, alongside information about each, is accessible
through the ‘transparent specimen‘ app for iPhone and iPad (6 USD). the pieces themselves are sold at tokyu hands
department store in japan.