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Photos Contemplate the Humanity of Science

19 December 2014

Winners of 2014 Photowalk themed, “Research at Work: Accelerating Science for Canada.”

Even among state-of-the-art equipment and complex computers, the human element is evident in the photos taken at TRIUMF 3rd Photowalk in October. Whether in the form of a researcher’s handwritten scribbles or through a photographer’s creativity, these top ten photos illustrate research at work.

With their cameras, tripods, and lenses in tow, Vancouver-based photographers toured the TRIUMF facility to lend their perspective under the theme “Research at Work.” The entries were judged under three categories: People’s Choice (social media), Scientist’s Choice (TRIUMF) and Jury’s Choice (local experts). The jury included TRIUMF Artist-in-Resident and Professor Ingrid Koenig from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Mila Cotic from Science World, Rebecca Ind from the University Neighbourhood Association and Christine D’Onofrio from the University of British Columbia.

Jury's Choice - Winner

Justin Lee, Bumped

The winning photo of Photowalk 2014 is Justin Lee’s Bumped (above).   Lee captured a handwritten note* taped to an instrument in the middle of a busy experimental hall, with a sincere apology for knocking the piece out of alignment. Lee wrote, “[I wanted] to show the juxtaposition between the precision of the equipment and the chaos of the lab.” The jury praised Lee for the field of depth skillfully captured in the photo. Bumped elicited a discussion on the challenges of experimental research, the surreptitious human factor and the Canadian use of "sorry." (For insight into the Canadian culture of sorry: How to be a Canadian by Will & Ian Ferguson.)

*Note reads: "Bumped Accidentally. To be recalibrated before my alignment. Sorry..."

Jury's Choice - Runner up

Sean Birch, One half of GRIFFIN


Placing both second and third with his photos One half of GRIFFIN (above) and Rainbow Cables (below), Sean Birch captivated the jury by cleverly revealing the circuitous network of cables and computers used to control and monitor experiments. “On the tour, it was surprising to see the mixture of old and new, and the occasional vintage-looking piece of equipment still in operation. The dichotomy that exists between the cutting-edge and the visually old-fashioned was a source of amusement and wonder,” said Sean Birch.

Jury's Choice - Third Place

Sean Birch, Rainbow Cables

Bringing a fresh perspective to the photowalk was Ron Kelly in Concussive Conclusions (below), the third place tie in Scientist’s Choice. “The real essence of TRIUMF is frenetic: particles with immense energy and speed, racing along and smashing into each other,” said Ron Kelly. “This occurs away from prying eyes and can only be viewed metaphorically: bouncing and colliding homo sapiens jostle each other on their way to insight.”


Scientist's Choice - Third Place (tied)

Ron Kelly, Concussive Conclusions


Scientist's Choice - Winner

Jacqueline Karista, TIGRESS


Scientist's Choice - Second Place

Justin Lee, Magnetism


Scientist's Choice - Third Place (tied)

Margo Dornan, Meson Hall


People's Choice - Winner

Margo Dornan, DESCANT 


People's Choice - Second Place

Margo Dornan - Helium Recovery


People's Choice - Third Place

Margo Dornan - ISAC


The ten winning photos will be exhibited at Science World in Vancouver, British Columbia in January 2015.  View the Top 40 on Flickr. Adapted for a symmetry magazine article.

By Kyla Shauer, Communications Assistant, TRIUMF