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Culture

Nano-scale sculptures re-create the human body in the eye of a needle

Microscopic sculptures by artist Jonty Hurwitz are so tiny that they can fit easily inside the eye of a needle, on a human hair -- or on the forehead of an ant.

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A tiny sculpture in the eye of a needle (top) and on a human hair (bottom). Jonty Hurwitz

Nanoart may be tiny, but the field just keeps on getting bigger and better all the time. Sculptor Jonty Hurwitz has created a series of miniscule sculptures that are not only invisible to the naked eye -- they're also highly detailed, created from 3D scans of people.

The tiny objects range from less than half the width of the human hair, to around roughly the same width, and were created from scans of a human model and a 3D model of Antonio Canova's famous 1793 Cupid and Psyche sculpture.

To achieve the level of detail, the tiny sculptures were 3D printed using a photosensitive material by the Institute of Microsctructure Technology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, with advice provided by the Weizmann Institute of Science. A technique called multiphoton lithography was then used to create fine details in the sculptures, carving them out with a densely focused light.

The sculptures can only be viewed through an electron microscope.

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Cupid and Psyche. Jonty Hurwitz

"The absolute fact is this: the human eye is unable to see these sculptures. All you see is a small mirror with ... nothing on it. The only way to perceive these works is on the screen of powerful scanning electron microscope. So how can you ever know that this sculpture really exists? Your only way to engage with it is through a screen, and a mouse separating you and the art via a vacuum and a series of mathematically mind-blowing quantum processes that shower the art with particles to map its contours," Hurwitz wrote.

"Can you be sure of its existence if your basic senses are telling you that nothing is there? The line between myth and science is fine. To celebrate this, I have based these sculptures on the beautiful myth of Cupid and Psyche."

You can watch Hurwitz explaining his project in the video below, and view more images on his official website.