Art of Science, Art of Nature
July 4, 2014 6:52 PM   Subscribe

Looking for examples of unexpected, artistic representations of nature

Recently I was given the chance to look through a microscope at a smear of freshly aspirated fluid from a inflamed gouty joint at a rheumatology clinic.When I peered into it I was suprised by what I saw. The gout crystals were very beautiful in their brilliance of color and pattern. (google image results does not do them justice)

Recently I've seen a few interesting examples of artistic representations of some unexpected aspects of nature, such as:

artist concocted a way to play tree rings like a record

lidar image of past and present courses of Williammette River of Oregon

My question: can you suggest to me other unusual examples of nature, either in the raw like the gout crystals through the microscope or through some form of manipulation like the tree rain record player? Other example that comes to mind is the Mandelbrot set graphic representations.
posted by Pantalaimon to Science & Nature (13 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Andy Goldsworthy is probably your first stop. Rivers and Tides is a beautiful documentary about his work.
posted by scody at 7:04 PM on July 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

Oh, and check out James Turrell's Roden Crater and Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty. More about land art here.
posted by scody at 7:08 PM on July 4, 2014

You might enjoy browsing the Art of Science posts at The Finch and Pea. I especially liked Roni Horn's Library of Water.
posted by sculpin at 7:11 PM on July 4, 2014

Bismuth Crystals.
posted by sanka at 7:27 PM on July 4, 2014

Scody mentioned the Spiral Jetty. If you are interested in the Art of Science/Art of Nature, and you are ever in the area, it is definitely worth a stop...not just for the Smithson work itself, but for the area that inspired it. Not only can the current algae in the lake totally change the color of the area, including some really amazing blues, reds and pinks (as often shown in pics of the jetty like here), but the salt creates marvelous works of natural art, and the area is prone to natural oil seeps that spiral up out of the water and the ground. And sometimes you get these wonderful combos of the hard-edges salt formations and shiny blobs of oil. Not the kind of beauty that is for everyone, I guess, but like you and the gout crystals, I think it is endlessly beautiful.

I'm also a fan of the beauty of hard pan.
posted by freejinn at 8:40 PM on July 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

A simple search for microscopy art works pretty well.

There's Nikon's annual Small World competition.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:50 PM on July 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's John Briggs's Fractals artbook. Good pictures, bad text. Cheap used.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:53 PM on July 4, 2014

Voronoi Diagrams come up all over the place in nature, and in parametric design.

I was going to say including mud crack, but I think I'm mistaken.

You probably would enjoy looking at some images from searches generative art, and digging up programs that do it.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:02 PM on July 4, 2014

This may not be exactly what you are looking for, but you might check out the work of D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson.
posted by alex1965 at 5:32 AM on July 5, 2014

Klari Reis’ petri paintings maybe?: article.
posted by gudrun at 7:58 AM on July 5, 2014

Take a look at Ernst Haeckel's scientifically fanciful paintings and drawings. Wikipedia has high-res scans of all of the renderings in Haeckel's book "Art Forms In Nature". Nobody does tentacles better!
posted by Agave at 8:32 AM on July 5, 2014

Harold Fisk's alluvial maps of the lower Mississippi River.
posted by a.steele at 8:57 AM on July 6, 2014

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