This Dewdrop World

What happens to tears when they dry up?

What is left?

That’s what Dutch photographer Maurice Mikkers wanted to find out.

For his series, Imaginarium of Tears, he had friends and family come over and cry their eyes out, literally — while cutting onions, recalling old sorrows, laughing etc. He then carefully collected the various tears and set them to dry on microscope slides.

Because each tear contains varying amounts of antibodies, oils, salts, enzymes etc. suspended in water, no two are alike. And therefore no two will crystallize into the same pattern.

When Mikkers backlit and magnified his catch, he discovered a world of unimaginable beauty.

Part snowflake, part cosmos.

And who knows? Perhaps one day we’ll discover that the only difference between such phenomena lies in scale and materials. Not in essence. Not in the force that drives their design.

And in that sense, one can serve as a map for the other.

In the words of the Japanese poet:

This dewdrop world

is but a dewdrop world,

and yet —

Kobayashi Issa

Teardrop Maurice Mikkers

All photos by Maurice Mikkers