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Tiny Bubbles

A few adventurous artists are making molehills out of molecules

By Tai Moses

WEB WANDERERS who happen upon www.microscope.fsu.edu/microscapes might be a bit daunted by some of the terms that are bandied about here: photomicrography, cross-polarized illumination, color-filtering processes. But even those who haven't peered through a microscope since junior high will find this gallery of 32 images to be a unique aesthetic experience.

Microscapes are photographs of various chemicals taken through a microscope using multiple exposures and color filters. The resulting surrealistic images resemble alien landscapes--in some cases it's hard to believe you're looking at Vitamin C crystals and not actual Martian scenery. "Baghdad After the Storm," is an otherworldly vista in which a moon rock stands in for a mound of rubble and a single bead of epoxy resin creates billowing clouds. The winged life-forms in "Space Birds" are Vitamin C crystallites; the frigid Arctic waste in "Ice Station Zebra" is ampicillin crystallites.

For budding micrographic artists who want to create their own microscapes, there's plenty of information on other parts of this vast website. At worst the site is a fantastic waste of time; at best it's a chance to glimpse the poetry of ordinary things made visible.

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From the January 24-31, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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