Typography of Tears

Typography of Tears

30th June 2014 // By Erin Cook // Film & Photography

As human beings, we’ve all been blessed with a wide range of emotions. Some people are more inclined to feel the feels than others, and can be easily moved to tears. Amongst others, there are tears of rage, joy, grief and the tears set off by chopping onions. 

Way back in 2008, photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher was crying a lot as she dealt with the pain of change and loss.  One day, as she looked down at the all too familiar sight of her own tears, a light bulb went off in her head. She wondered if tears would look different under a microscope, depending on their respective triggers. Instead of wiping away her tears, she caught them and got to work. 

In a project titled 'The Typography of Tears', Fisher used a microscope to explore the physical terrain of 100 tears collected from numerous physical reactions and emotional triggers. With the help of a Zeiss microscope and a digital camera, she made a vast catalogue of images, each with their own individual characteristics and structures. 

After being magnified between 10 and 40 times, tears no longer look like tears. Even Fisher herself was shocked by the resulting images. “It was really interesting. It looked like an aerial view, almost as if I was looking down at a landscape from a plane,” she said

Human tears comprise of a variety of substances, including oils, antibodies, enzymes and distinctive molecules, suspended in salt water. Tears can differ depending on the body’s natural response to emotions. For example, emotional tears contain protein-based hormones including leucine encephalin, which is released by the body to combat stress.

However, the purpose of this project is primarily artistic rather than scientific. Fisher noted that, “there are so many variables—there’s the chemistry, the viscosity, the setting, the evaporation rate and the settings of the microscope.”

Rather than wallowing in sorrow, Fisher put her tears to good use and came up with some shockingly beautiful results. Here I was thinking that the only productive thing that came from crying was getting my own way… 

Photo of Tears of Grief sourced here