Illustration and science have always gone hand in hand. If you want to understand something, drawing it is a good place to start. Macoto Murayama, a 29-year-old botanist and designer, goes even further: he carefully dissects and models flowers using 3D drafting software.
Murayama, who has a degree in spatial design, started buying flowers and plants from roadside stands a few years ago. Back in his studio, he began dissecting the plants and mapping what he found inside. “When I looked closer into a plant that I thought was organic, I found in its form and inner structure hidden mechanical and inorganic elements,” he said in an interview with The Scientist. “My perception of a flower was completely changed.”
Since then, Murayama has dissected and modeled dozens of specimens, from the unfurling splendor of Asiatic dayflower to the Poppy-like simplicity of Yellow Cosmos. After drafting the innards of each plant (beginning at a microscopic level), he uses the rendering software 3ds Max to model each piece. Then, he finishes off each drawing by adding architectural call-outs to the details. These images look faked—but they’re actually remarkable thorough scientific illustrations.
According Frantic, his representing gallery, Murayama is the latest participant in a tradition that goes back to the Enlightenment. “It’s not only an image of a plant, but representation of the intellect’s power and its elaborate tools for scrutinizing nature,” explains the gallery reps. “The transparency of this work refers not only to the lucid petals of a flower, but to the ambitious, romantic and utopian struggle of science to see and present the world as transparent (completely seen, entirely grasped) object.” Except these days, rather than documenting the natural world with ink and paper, we document it with CAD and Illustrator. [Smithsonian Mag]