Yury Kuzminykh, Terra Illuminata – 21 février – 25 mars 2011


21 février – 25 mars 2011

Yury Kuzminykh    

“Terra Illuminata”

Narrating photography 



Within EPFL’s colorful cluster of intelligence, curiosity and energy that fills the campus labs, offices and libraries, there is amazing creativity as well. The cerebral riches becomes manifest in many different forms, and at ELA 010 the ASTIE committee will continue to share some of the fascinating results of human imagination on campus with you in 2011. Here is another inspiring story.

As a young boy Yury Kuzminykh saw the magical alchemy of images appearing on the photo paper in the darkroom of his grandfather and his father. They were both amateur photographers and surely triggered Yury’s personal interest in camerawork at an early stage.

Years later, Yury, born in Minsk, Belarus, studied optics, laser physics and spectroscopy at the Belarusian State University.  In 2006 he obtained a PhD in physics at the University of Hamburg and became a physicist in micro technology at EPFL. With the arrival of the digital cameras interest in the magic of taking pictures came back into his life. He longed to create images that could not be observed by the human eye, and views that expand wider than the field of its perception.

Therefore he set out to shoot what “cannot be seen” and to create what “does not exist,” taking outdoor and indoor photographs that we could never perceive ourselves. “When the normal flow of lines and straight angles is broken” he explains, “our mind cannot understand what is happening. That is exactly the miracle that I enjoy observing: how our mind is stuck and puzzled in trying to understand and read something. To see what our eyes could only observe as small pieced images, but never as a whole.”

It did not stop at the dimensions. Yury wanted to experiment with colors as well. “Our eyes adapt very quickly to different amounts of light, but we do not notice a very big difference in brightness between sun and shadow,” he clarifies. His image of a very old mountain chalet in Christmas atmosphere is a beautiful example of that. There is a difference between the bright light that comes in through the windows and the darker interior of the chalet.

Yury applied the latest technique in digital photography, High Dynamic Range, or HDR, combining multiple photographs with different exposure into a single composite image. As described in the University of Chicago Magazine (Long exposure, Sept.-Oct. 2010) it narrows “the gap between what the human eye perceives and what the camera can record.  It recaptures some of the color, light and shadow and translates what you see onto the foreign language of the photographic medium, so the photographs look painted but they also look super realistic.”


Yury needed to investigate things further still. “Just playing and experimenting with a wide view field or intensity of light became a little boring with time. I began to create images with a short story, images that tell little tales: tales that simply appear through associations, impressions, and imagination.”

The photograph of the St. Peter’s cathedral interior in Rome is a point in case. It portrays a few individuals who are detached from each other, but at the same time somehow united by their presence in the intense white light falling through the high windows in the cupola of the cathedral; a surreal moment in time connecting the disconnected. Who are they, where are they headed, what brought them together in the light, are a few questions a spectator might have.

And so his narrating pictures were born.  On a sea of clouds a clipper sails into the harbor at the top of a mountain. A dragon traverses the skies above and old city and a horizontal wooden platform is projected vertically in a mountainous landscape, with Yury’s own feet pointing at a waterfall.

Enjoy the show!


Gusta van Dobbenburgh



“Terra Illuminata”

Narrating photography by

Yury Kuzminykh



February 21 – March 25, 2011

Vernissage:  Thursday, February 24 18h00 – 20h00

Room: ELA 010

Mo-Fri  8h45 – 17h00

Info: gusta@botanical.nl

021 691 1188