S&S Photography Contest Winners

First Prize

Photograph of "Levitated Mass" by Christopher Sims

“Levitated Mass”, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California. 2014. Photograph by Christopher Sims.

This 340-ton granite boulder is displaced from its natural surroundings by artist Michael Heizer, who imagined a new context for it in the highly engineered urban metropolis of Los Angeles. Only through humankind’s monumental achievements in science and engineering could such an achievement be possible, whose end results elevates a piece of the earth to having status and currency in the art world. In my photograph, I sought to draw out the tension between the rock and the figures underneath, the sleek lines of geometry of the engineered tunnel against the ruggedness of the boulder, and the contrast of light and shadow. The boulder and its placement in the middle of a city lie at the intersection of science and contemporary society.


Second Prize

Bare by Rekha Korlipara

Bare by Rekha Korlipara

This piece was made as part of a series of photographs depicting the human anatomy in various forms, ranging from the nanoscale to the full body. This photograph is a self-portrait with a faint muscular and skeletal overlay. The overlay was created based on a sketch found online. I drew part of the overlay by hand, and then digitally fused it with a slightly edited version of the sketch found online. Human ideas of beauty often trace back to the skeleton. People appreciate high cheekbones. They appreciate strong jawlines. They appreciate sharp, small noses. All of these are part of the skeleton; when people look at a face and assess a person’s features, they are really partially judging that person’s bones. This piece highlights the inner body elements that contribute to outward features.






Third Prize

Brain Boxes by Jeff McInnes

Brain Boxes by Jeff MacInnes

A portrait succeeds when the rich inner life of the individual can be captured in a facial expression or position of the body in space.  Yet, behind the scenes of every soulful gaze, or ambiguous smile, or proud stance, is a brain. A brain that deserves more credit than traditional portraiture has been able to offer. The goal of this project is to repurpose MRI data in creating a new form of portraiture that unites the individual – in this case, researchers within the Duke brain sciences community — with their own brain, and encourages the question of how much of a division should exist between our conceptions of the two. Full project visible here.





Honorable Mentions

(In alphabetical order by artist)


By Leo Gaskins

Open Eyes by Leo Gaskins

This baby turtle is opening its eyes for the first time. As the world comes into focus, it faces a hard road ahead. Turtles teach us not only about the delicate balance of the oceans but how simple decisions made by each one of us impact their lives. It is in our hands to decide to continue on that path or to make the effort to change. As this hatchling embarks on its life journey, we need to think about how we shape the world it will experience.


Direction by Rekha Korlipara

Direction by Rekha Korlipara

This piece is a stitched image of an astrocyte, taken using an Olympus IX81 Spinning Disk Fluorescence Microscope. It was taken as part of a study testing whether astrocytes, cells in the central nervous system, can be directed to grow along fibers. If they can, aligned fibers could help cure millions of cases of paralysis caused by spinal cord injury by directing neuronal growth during regeneration. The study found that it is in fact possible to direct astrocyte growth along these electrospun aligned fiber scaffolds. In the image, the green part is the astrocyte, stained with glial fibrillary acidic protein, the blue part is the nucleus of the astrocyte, strained with 4’,6-diamidino-phenylindole, and the red lines are fibers strained with rhodamine.

Snakes by Rachel Lance

Snakes by Rachel Lance

This picture was taken at the North Carolina Aquarium. Initially, the frame of the photo included the outline of the snakes’ glass window, making it obvious that they were in an aquarium cage. A small amount of cropping completely changed the image, drawing attention to the head of the one snake who notices the camera, and giving the impression that he could take action against the intruder to his nest. We put these animals in habitats for the purpose of social education, but it is important to remember that at heart they are still wild. Image created using digital camera (Olympus PEN E-PL5) and macro lens, cropped using PhotoShop.


Macro Self Portrait by Rachel Lance

I took this picture as a self-portrait following a conversation with my younger brother, who researches drug delivery for treatment of macular degeneration as a PhD student in the biomedical engineering department at UCSF. The human eye is a beautiful and complex structure, and we have built much of our society around the assumption of sight. However, despite the importance of sight to our daily lives, we still have a limited ability to repair and remedy defects and injuries to the eye. Image created using digital camera (Olympus PEN E-PL5) and macro lens.





Facing Earth's History by Wout Salenbien

Facing Earths History by Wout Salenbien

While preparing for field work on the Amazon River in central Brazil, we managed to sneak out to a quarry to get a feel with the geology. In assessing the influence of anthropogenic warming, it’s crucial to know how the system reacts to perturbations and long-term changes. Earth has left us with a detailed record of climate changes in its past – it’s up to us to go out in the field and read the history of the Earth. Information on the environment, climate and the life that was present ~ 9 million years ago is recorded in this wall. Repeated for a whole range of localities, you can start to puzzle Earth’s history together, creating the most fascinating tale possible.




A Careful Balance by Wout Salenbien

A Careful Balance by Wout Salenbien

While traveling through Indonesia, a day was spent on exploring the rice terraces and agricultural habits in Bali. Rice cultivation is essential for the local people – both in terms of nutritional needs and as a financial source. Reshaping the landscape to guide the water in canals from the rivers to the rice terraces is a megalomaniac project that has been carried out over the centuries and that is still ongoing, while its techniques have changed very little over time. It is sometimes hard to imagine how the landscape would look like without this human influence. It would definitely be a lot harder to walk around on flip-flops.