Russian Scientists Combine Chemistry and Superheroes for Photography Project

It's not often someone contacts you about chemistry and superheroes, but when someone does, you pay attention. Nikolay of ArtNauka showed me a project they have been working on where they combine a superhero theme with chemical elements and reactions to create a series of striking portraits.

ArtNauka are a Russian team of popular science enthusiasts who usually create effects for TV, film, and festivals. This time, however, they've created a project called "Superhero From Chemistry: Social Experiment on Russian scientists." The idea came to them while discussing concepts for a show in which they wanted to invite superheroes and create their superpowers using science. While the show remains a work in progress, this photographic side project emerged. 

As with any shoot involving chemicals and reactions, there were difficulties. Firstly, there's the obvious barrier of creating the effects in reality and not leaning on Photoshop. Nikolay informs me that the reactions in the video are real, and Andrew, who posed for the "Oil" image, got burned; that's the sort of dedication I'm looking for in a photo project! The next problem Nikolay described as the hardest part is a little closer to home: makeup artists. 

The hardest part was finding makeup artists and creating different looks. They don’t know what hydrogen is, they don’t know whether it’s hard or soft, what it is used for, and how to show it visually using makeup. Among Moscow’s 20 best makeup artists, we could only find 4 who we could work with. - Nikolay Novoselov

It certainly looks to be an interesting shoot and not bad for educational purposes either. I'll be interested to see more results from this project and what they can create for a show, although they might want to get their models to start signing waivers. The photography for this project was by Dmitry Penkov.

Images used with permission from ArtNauka.


Rob Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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I love the creativity of this project. Spurred new ideas in my head too. That's either good or dangerous.

Very cool (and not just the ice)

Brilliant! I've got a similar idea brewing (based off of the periodic table), this might inspire me to get off my ass and get started.