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Photography Reveals a World of Life in One Cubic Foot

March 21, 2016 1:08 pm

A new exhibit at the Smithsonian reveals the amazing results of photographing one cubic foot of life in various locations around the world. The exhibition entitled “Life in One Cubic Foot” shares the results of what photographer David Liittschwager and Smithsonian scientists discovered by photographing what lived in and passed through a one square foot green-framed cube placed on either land or water.


The tool used to designate the area photographed, known as a bio cube, was an open framework that creatures in the surrounding area could come into and journey through. The scientists placed the cubes in locations across the world and photographed what came through in a 24-hour period. The exhibition takes up 1,100 square feet in the Sant Ocean Hall’s Focus Gallery at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and within it, people can see just how much life thrives in the tiniest spaces of the planet. To bring the wonder to their corner of the world, visitors can create and film their biocube to discover the biodiversity of their backyard.

From exotic to urban locations

To capture the images for the exhibit, scientists and photographer David Liittschwager traveled to exotic locations like the coral reefs of French Polynesia to the urban oasis of Central Park in New York City. The organisms caught on film range from the size of a head of a pin to the entire size of the bio cube and seeing them all in together in photograph collages and videos helps put the enormity of even the tiniest places in perspective. The bio cube images from Central Park showed creatures as small as a tick and as large as a raccoon with a multitude of creatures covering every size in between.

one cubic foot CentralPark by David Liittschwager

Image courtesy of Smithsonian

Importance of bio cube images from midwater

Coral reefs are heavily studied biodiversity locations, but the bio cube project also revealed some of the mysteries in the world’s largest but least studied ecosystems in the midwater. Midwater lies between the seafloor and the ocean’s surface and contains a diversity of life not fully understood yet. One of the midwater bio cube locations was the Monterey Submarine Canyon off the California shoreline. During a 24-hour period, images and video showed over 200 animals moving through the camera lens of the midwater and gives viewers of the exhibition a glimpse into a world rarely seen.

The work of the Smithsonian and photographer David Liittschwager is truly inspiring and proves that viewing the world through a camera lens unlocks new perspectives and layers of existence. Share your stunning images with the world through the digital imaging, framing and mounting available from Baboo Digital.

Featured image by David Liittschwager via Smithsonian