Michelle Murphy is a photographer for NASA at the Glenn Research Center in Ohio, and this has provided her with plenty of creative fodder. Her playful images poke gentle fun at scientific certainty, reminding us of the subjectivity of our vision. Perhaps it is no accident that many of the cosmetics Murphy photographs are those that are applied to the eye, the most obvious instrument of observation. The tight close-ups of cosmetics create an illusion of entire planets made of glittering particles, where the micro suggests the macro. A new piece titled "Shadowscape Curiosity" made in response to the recent Curiosity landing, is a close-up photograph of eye makeup in colors matching the colorized NASA images of Mars. We are reminded of our sentimental attachments to color--somehow color makes these images more accessible and visually rewarding.
Murphy won't say much about the techniques she uses to make these images, but she admits to regularly questioning a pair of research physicists about materials and optics. In her studio she mimics the research environment with a "lab" where she experiments with shutter speed and interrupting and reflecting the digital images as they are made, as with the "Lashes in a Vacuum" (above) image. You can see more of Murphy's work on her website or in an upcoming exhibition in October 2012 at the Brandt Gallery in Cleveland, OH.
Lashes in a Vacuum
Eye Shadow Overlap
Foundation: with less control