For those of us who don’t work with them on a day to day basis, blueprints and schematics have an undeniable cool factor. In one sense, you can see them as visual manifestations of someone’s defining qualities, like the ability to plan ahead and the capacity to figure out how things work. They also play a key role in heist movies, which adds to the allure.
But Macoto Murayama’s fabulously detailed graphics don’t show bank vaults or anything built by the hands of humans, for that matter. Murayama specializes in blueprints of botany.
He calls them something different: “inorganic flora”–and they’re not just images of flowers gussied up with engineering class trappings. Each is as precise a representation of its subject as Murayama can manage in two-dimensions. To start, the artist picks a specimen and carefully dissects it. He makes sketches and takes photographs, and then painstakingly models its structure with 3-D software. Next, he renders all those parts, arranges them in Photoshop, and overlays them with measurements, labels, names, and other information.
The result is “not only an image of a plant,” his gallery notes, “but a representation of the intellect’s power and its elaborate tools for scrutinizing nature.” Of course, that second reading imbues them with an interesting tension. The tools and taxonomies humans have developed to understand nature are recent inventions. The highly technical visual language Murayama adopts here is even younger. But plants have always been around. And these botanical blueprints are a reminder that the world has long been filled with feats of evolutionary engineering–billions upon billions of them–even back when we were trying to figure out how to build houses out of sticks and mud.
Images courtesy of the artist and Frantic Gallery