Something Fishy's Going on in the Art World

September 26, 2011



Iori Tomita, Japanese ex-fisherman turned artist,
transforms marine life with scientific technique of
preserving and dying organism specimens into an art form.

Tomita, who studied ichthyology as an undergraduate, began creating his series
'New World Transparent Specimens' by experimenting with the preservation
and staining of fish while working as a fisherman.

He first saw a sample of a fish that had been turned transparent at a university lecture
six years ago, and since then he has used the same preservation technique to make
thousands of hyper-colored cadavers.


     The Process:

Tomita first removes the scales and skin of fish that have been preserved in formaldehyde.
Next he soaks the creatures in a stain that dyes the cartilage blue.

He then uses a digestive enzyme called Trypsin, along with a host of other chemicals,
to break down the proteins and muscles, halting the process just at the
moment they
become transparent but before they lose their form.


Selective injecting of red dye into the hard bones and blue into the softer bones is then introduced... and the brilliant beast is preserved in a jar of glycerin. 

The extensive production takes five months to a year, but the result is an arresting
look at the inner workings of underwater life.

Tomita quotes: '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.'


“New World Transparent Specimens”
are available for purchase through the the Japanese-based store
Tokyu Hands for ¥2,000 to ¥20,000 (Around £17 - £170)
www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/