BITS – Exploring Abstract Insect Landscapes of Levon Biss’ Microsculpture

In ALL, BITS by Julia Krolik

“At high magnification the surface of even the plainest looking beetle or fly is completely transformed,” says Dr. James Hogan, a collections manager at the Oxford Museum of Natural History. “Details of their microsculpture become visible: ridges, pits or engraved meshes all combine at different spatial scales in a breath-taking intricacy.”

This concept of microsculpture—the details of the insect form—is well-known among entomologists. But it comes to life like never before in Microsculpture, a collaboration between the Oxford Museum of Natural History and photographer Levon Biss. This striking exhibition features large scale prints of 22 insect specimens in incredible detail, allowing visitors to appreciate the beauty of these tiny creatures in a new light.

several large scale images of insects

A view of the digital Microsculpture gallery

However, perhaps the most fruitful result of this collaboration is the stunning online exhibition and its zooming feature, which allows the viewer to manipulate the magnification of each insect specimen. When the largest magnification is achieved, insect body parts take on an abstract appearance.

Here are our favourite close-ups at the 0.25mm setting. Can you guess which critters they belong to?

Find out more about Microsculpture and Levon Biss’s other work.

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About the Author

Julia Krolik

Julia helps SciArt through Art the Science, wrangles data and makes SciArt through Pixels and Plans. She speaks passionately about the importance of visual communication in information sharing. She lives by this quote: "They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea." - Francis Bacon | Twitter: @yuliakrolik