LOOK! A photograph of a cauliflower! And here's one of some leaves! And over there is a picture of an American flag with colors reversed!
But that "cauliflower" is really electroplated gold on connector pins - enlarged 18,000 times. And those "leaves" are smectic liquid crystal components arranged in packing patterns. And that "American flag" is a close-up of a silicon chip that has been developed to eliminate annoying echoes during long-distance phone conversations.These are just three of 50 fascinating photographs in "MicroScapes: The Hidden Art of High Technology," an AT&T-sponsored exhibit at the Salt Lake Art Center that introduces the viewer to a beautiful world previously invisible to the naked eye. And it is both awesome and breathtaking.
As researchers delve deeper and deeper into technology, they are discovering a mysterious and beautiful world. And this journey into the microcosm has been visually recorded through use of sophisticated light microscopes, scanning electron microscopes, transmission electron microscopes, scanning tunneling microscopes, and cameras with shutter speeds up to 1/720,000 of a second.
Images found in "A Tungsten Silicide Garden" have been enlarged 67,000 times; "Fingerprint of a Superconductor," 240,000,000 times; and "Atoms on a Silicon Surface," a billion times. Such incredible magnification not only boggles the mind but tantalizes the eye.
In addition are photographs that show electrode deposition of gold and copper, irradiation of silicon by a laser, a plasma etching of silicon wafers, and the joining of materials by explosive bonding.
Len Stern, free-lance photographer and curator of the exhibit, and William O. Gillum, technical representative for the exhibit, were in Salt Lake last Wednesday to help interpret the exhibit.
Stern said that over 2 million people have seen the exhibit since it opened at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry at the close of 1983. It has traveled to 35 major museums and universities across the country and has been featured in dozens of national publications.
He said the rationale for the exhibit has to do with the change that has taken place in our society. Before technology, the world was easy to understand; but with the invention of the transistor, it is much more difficult.
Some of the photographs reflect true colors; others, false. Stern explained that in some of the photographs, colors have been added and/or values have been enhanced for information purposes.
"This was done so the researchers could differentiate between fields," he said. "It helps them see the boundaries."
But it doesn't matter whether the colors are true or false. Or whether the image is a cauliflower or electroplated gold. What really matters is that the viewer look at the exhibit in terms of aesthetics.
"MicroScapes is an attempt to approach technology in a way that isn't literal," Stern said. "Our object is not simply to reveal technology, but to lead the audience to appreciate it through images that have an art value of their own."
The exhibit continues at the Salt Lake Art Center, 20 S. West Temple, through July 21. Art Center hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday (open until 9 p.m. on Friday); and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. There is no charge for the exhibit, although donations are appreciated. For more information, call 328-4201.