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 color 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.