Kunié Sugiura: Scientists

Born and raised in Japan, Kunié Sugiura studied physics there for two years until she realized how limited career options were for women in the sciences. When she moved to United States in the mid-1960s, she switched fields to study photography and film, but her early interests in experimentation, materiality, and scientific-imaging continued. Starting in the 1980s, Sugiura began producing photograms–bold, life-sized, and one of-a-kind images made without cameras or negatives by placing objects or her subjects on or in front of photographic paper and then exposing them to a flash of light. For a 2003-4 series of innovative portraits of path-breaking scientists, Sugiura asked each to strike poses or appear with objects that suggested their interests and accomplishments. The stark, x-ray-like silhouette images that resulted from those improvised sessions range from the mysterious to the playful. They are unconventional and startlingly different from the stereotypical images of scientists that the news media, science journals, and stock photography have conditioned us to expect.