Maija Tammi—Art Photographer and Communicator of Science
Photography serves as an accurate means to convey what we observe within a specific context or contexts. From its early days, photography has served an important double role in the recording and communication of science and as art form.
Maija Tammi comes to Light Work for a month-long residency to explore what is meant by “biological immortality.” Before her arrival at Light Work and Syracuse University, Tammi sought a faculty member with whom she could study the biology of hydra, a small fresh-water animal. Tammi connected with Syracuse University Professor of Biology Robert Silver. Silver and Tammi share much in common, including long and deep experience with photography and communicating science to nonscientists.
Tammi is a Finnish artist whose photographs and sculptures converse with science and aesthetics, disgust and fascination. Her work has been exhibited in Europe, North America and Asia. She is currently working on her studio-art-based doctoral thesis at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki.
In his research, Silver seeks to understand how cells make decisions, focusing on the complex processes and mechanisms from the perspective of fundamental principles in biology, the physical sciences and engineering. His lab is filled with the most advanced light microscopes and cameras, and he has graciously offered Tammi access to the laboratory, to work with her, and to integrate her with his students in Lyman Hall.
Upon first seeing hydra with one of Silver’s microscopes, Tammi exclaimed: “Perfect! I can see so much more.”
Already, in the first two days of her residency, Tammi and Silver have begun experiments, captured images of hydra under various conditions and made observations that confirm and extend published observations of hydra biology. They will also be exploring extending some of the limits of image capture, working with Light Work’s master printer, John Mannion.
Throughout her residency Tammi will be posting her images to the Light Work Instagram account, @lightworkorg.