Daniel Stier makes a living as a commercial photographer, but for the past seven years, he's had an interesting side project: photographing scientists in their labs. The photos are intriguing, inspiring, and...a little bit odd. Now, Stier has collected them into a new book, Ways of Knowing.
"The whole thing is meant as an art project," Stier told Refinery29. In fact, he sees a lot of parallels between the art world and that of research science.
"You can’t stop doing research the same way artists can’t stop making art," he says. "It’s a kind of work that is — compared to what other people do all day — strange, in a way. You never know if it makes sense; the outcome is always open. It’s a constant loop of doing something and maybe failing."
The book is broken up into two halves: in one, it's photographs of actual scientists in their laboratories. The other half features staged experimental setups Stier created in his photography studio. Both sets are presented without comment, however, there are essays written by Pedro Ferreira, professor of astrophysics at the University of Oxford, and Daniel Jewesbury, a writer, artist and lecturer at the National College of Art & Design in Dublin.
"I feel that we’re overexplaining too much everywhere," Stier explains. "We can never look at a photograph just as a photograph. To me, a photograph is also a piece of art. You can create your own stories when you see it."
Want to give it a try? Here are 10 of Stier's bizarre yet wonderful Ways of Knowing images.