adam summers dyes fish specimens to reveal their anatomy
adam summers dyes fish specimens to reveal their anatomy adam summers dyes fish specimens to reveal their anatomy
dec 19, 2013

adam summers dyes fish specimens to reveal their anatomy

adam summers dyes fish specimens to reveal their anatomy
above: ‘shark’
image © adam summers




washington-based professor adam summers uses marine specimens collected from fishing operations as the medium in an artistic project revealing the anatomical structure of sea creatures. using two dyes – alcian blue to stain cartilaginous elements and alizarin red to turn tissue a shade of crimson — summers then lightly bleaches the species to remove dark pigments, leaving a snow-white fish. the stained skeletal tissues create visibility through the skin and flesh, exposing the biological innards as vibrantly colored matter. images are captured while the examples are fully submerged in glycerin; a large reservoir the compound is placed on a color corrected LED light table and the fish is posed in place. in its final stage, the still shots are not only mesmerizing on an aesthetic scale, but also gives a rare glimpse of the underlying structure of the animal, visualizing their vertebrates, skeletons, and soft tissues.


image © adam summers

image © adam summers

image © adam summers

image © adam summers


image © adam summers



‘little skate’
image © adam summers


(left) ‘scalyhead’
(right) ‘sculpin’
images © adam summers



(left) ‘electric’
(right) ‘little skate’
images © adam summers



  • I find this whole thing a bit ghastly… but that’s just me.

    antonio says:
  • Nature often provides some of the greatest art. Nice. He could do a good business in fine prints.


    JimCan says:
  • no reference to the work of iori tomita ? I could have sworn that designboom had his works in their database.
    I can only vaguely recall the interesting narrative that followed the Japanese artist’s process: a fisherman with a passion for taxidermy, humble beginnings but a great eye for artistic potential.
    He even published a book called “Toumei na Chimmoku”.

    On another note, I wonder if this would work with other cartilaginous animals…

    Romain M. says:
  • JimCan thank you for sharing the work of Iori Tomita. It was very inspiring.

    Lou says:

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