Trained as a botanist, Anna Atkins developed an interest in photography as a means of recording botanical specimens for a scientific reference book, British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions.

This publication was one of the first uses of light-sensitive materials to illustrate a book. Instead of traditional letterpress printing, the book’s handwritten text and illustrations were created by the cyanotype method. Atkins printed and published Part I of British Algae in 1843 and in doing so established photography as an accurate medium for scientific illustration. 

Atkins images have been reconfigured as a series of window transparencies by artist Jennifer Parker for The Algae Society Bio Art + Design exhibit at the MOXI Museum of Innovation + Exploration in Santa Barbara, California.

 

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