Two distinctive worlds – one microscopically small and the other with unlimited heights – are at the center of the photography exhibit that opened at ArtsEcho Galleria in Union City last weekend.
Work by Jan Hinsch, a master of the microscope from Bergen County, and Dexter Lane, a Weehawken resident with a passion for spying what others might overlook, will be on display until June.
Hinsch, a German native, said he first discovered the beauty concealed in slides many years ago when he took a job with Leica Microsystems, a European company that designs and produces microscopes and other precision optics systems. But, it was not so much the technology that impressed him, he said.
“It is really these structures that you see under the microscope that fascinated me,” said Hinsch. This, coupled with his interest in photography, pushed him to start experimenting in his basement, making traditional slides to examine as well as melting different substances to see how they changed as they cooled.
“It was something that was very easy to get enthusiastic about,” he said. “I think there is hardly anything under the microscope that is not satisfying potentially in terms of its geometry and structure.”
He added polarized light filters to the mix and the result: art.
“I looked at these things, and I thought, ‘This is really extraordinary,’” said Hinsch. “They are really beautiful things in microscopic dimensions.”
He prepares the slides, works his magic, and takes the photo. Yet, Hinsch said he is not the artist.
“I would compare myself more to an editor than to a painter with a brush,” he said. “I have access to a world that is hidden to most people, and I select those areas that I think are of aesthetic impact.”
Finding secret sculptures
Lane, whose work is also currently being exhibited, said that he, too, makes accessible a world that most people would not otherwise see at eye level. His pieces in the exhibit are from his “Heads-Up” project featuring statues, gargoyles, and other structures found in obscure locations in New York City.
“There is some amazing stuff that is so high up that you can barely see what it is,” said Lane.
Whenever he can, he said, he rides the subway in the city and stops at any station he feels like and from there, walks around, while looking up, in search for picture-worthy material.
These adventures have gotten him into some trouble, as he once found himself surrounded by police officers after he was blindly taking photos of a building where a top secret meeting happened to be in session.
Not only are the objects he searches for high up and, sometimes, perched on high-security government buildings, they are also, many times, very small.
“There are some things that are taken that are very, very small, and I want to release the inner grandeur of them,” he said. These small objects, he added, are often just the face of the statues or gargoyles he finds.
“There are some really vigilant females out there,” he said. “There are some really melancholy people. There are some fiery, devilish people.”
Lane added that he is most impressed by how someone managed to carve expression into stone and marble. His work, he said, just helps spread the message of the original artist.
“What I try to do is show what exists because there is no improving on it,” he said. “I don’t know what was intended in most cases, so I leave it to the viewer.”
Lane added that he hopes his work and efforts to rediscover what has become unfamiliar will inspire other people “to see the beauty that is all around them.”
ArtsEcho Galleria, at 3809 Park Ave., is open Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (201) 617-1110 for the store and (201) 617-8585 for the general office.
Amanda Staab can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.