One Cubic Foot: Miniature Surveys in Biodiversity, Photographs by David Liittschwager
September 15, 2011 - January 27, 2012
How much life grows or passes, on land or sea, through one cubic foot of space? To find out, and to record the concentrates of biodiversity that occupy such a space, the photographer David Liittschwager and a group of scientists have been recording whatever appeared in an open green metal frame over the course of a normal day. Since 2006, five habitats have been examined: a coral reef crest in Moorea, French Polynesia; a mountain Fynbos in South Africa; leaf litter in New York’s Central Park; a freshwater river bottom in the Duck River, Tennessee; and a cloud forest canopy of Monte Verde, Costa Rica.
The David Brower Center has commissioned Liittschwager to create and premiere his most recent biological survey: Under the Golden Gate Bridge. Liittschwager’s observations determined an astonishing 2.6 billion organisms entering and leaving the San Francisco Bay estuary through the space of one cubic foot over a 24-hour period. The images in the exhibit provide a sampler of the amazing creatures (a majority invisible to the naked eye) living in the Golden Gate.
Littschwager’s longtime passion is to document – in scrupulously accurate images that possess an almost otherworldly beauty – what will be lost in the ongoing extinction of natural habitats and the species that live there. The work inspires the question, what can we learn from one cubic foot? A freelance photographer, David Liittschwager grew up in Eugene, Oregon. Between 1983 and 1986, he worked as an assistant to Richard Avedon in New York City. After working in advertising, he turned his skills to portraiture with an emphasis on natural history subjects.
Now a contributing photographer to National Geographic and other magazines, Liittschwager is also a successful book author. In 2002 he produced the books Skulls and X-Ray Ichthyology: The Structure of Fishes for the California Academy of Sciences. Liittschwager’s other books, written in collaboration with Susan Middleton, include Archipelago, Remains of a Rainbow, Witness andHere Today.
A recipient of an Endangered Species Coalition Champion Award for Education and Outreach and a Bay & Paul Foundation Biodiversity Leadership Award, Liittschwager lectures and shows his work around the world in both fine art and natural history contexts. His photographs have been exhibited at many museums, including the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., the Honolulu Academy of Art in Hawai?I, and currently at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Liittschwager was honored by a 2008 World Press Photo Award for his article on Marine Microfauna in National Geographic magazine (November 2007).