Topography of Tears: Like Aerial Views of Emotional Terrain

Rose-Lynn Fisher has found a fascinating world of differences inside the tears we weep—be they from joy, frustration, grief, or cutting into a pungent onion.

In the tradition Wilson Bentley‘s fabulous snowflake photography, prior to which scientists assumed most snowflakes were probably alike, Fisher uses the seemingly clinical eye of her microscope and camera to capture the surprising nuances of daily existence.

She’s found that among the 100 different tear samples collected and analyzed, the chemical makeup and appearance shift with every situation and reason…

…Tears of grief:

Rose-Lynn Fisher

Rose-Lynn Fisher

…Tears of laughing till I’m crying:

Rose-Lynn Fisher

Rose-Lynn Fisher

…Onion tears:

Rose-Lynn Fisher

Rose-Lynn Fisher

…Tears of elation at a liminal moment:

Rose-Lynn Fisher

Rose-Lynn Fisher

And tears that express even farther poetic reaches:

Tears of Change, Rose-Lynn Fisher

The microcosmic abstractions are gorgeous on their own, but paired with the artist’s strangely poetic descriptions of the fleeting moment when the tear sample fell, the project starts to evoke a larger sense of transience, the unpredictable and the unseen…

Tears of Momentum, redirected, Rose-Lynn Fisher

Writes Rose-Lynn Fisher on her website:

The random compositions I find in magnified tears often evoke a sense of place, like aerial views of emotional terrain…

Tears are the medium of our most primal language in moments as unrelenting as death, as basic as hunger, and as complex as a rite of passage. They are the evidence of our inner life overflowing its boundaries, spilling over into consciousness. Wordless and spontaneous, they release us to the possibility of realignment, reunion, catharsis, intractable resistance short-circuited. It’s as though each one of our tears carries a microcosm of the collective human experience, like one drop of an ocean.

Her book, Typography of Tears, makes a unique gift.

Sinnae Choi and Sally Schneider

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