I Photographer: NASA Photographer Michelle Murphy

Shooting the U.S. space agency is out-of-this-world fun for this fine-art photographer

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Photo of the Surface Technology Team in the Simulated Lunar Operations Laboratory at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2006 (ISO 160; shutter speed 1/90; F11; Focal Length 35mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Photo of the Space Power Facility, Test Chamber at NASA Plum Brook Station, 2007 (ISO 160; shutter speed 1/30; F5; Focal Length 14mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Photo of the Acoustic Dome and the Nozzle Acoustic Test Rig at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2009 (ISO 160; shutter speed 1/100; F8; Focal Length 14mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Photo of wire mesh tire from the Simulated Lunar Operations Laboratory in the lighting studio at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2009 (ISO 160; shutter speed 1/125; F32; Focal Length 60mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Photo of ferroelectric oscillator in the lighting studio at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2009 (ISO 100; shutter speed 1/125; F40; Focal Length 60mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Environmental portrait and Enhanced Zero-gravity Locomotion Simulator in the high bay at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2009 (ISO 200; shutter speed 1/100; F13; Focal Length 19mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Photo of a fuel cell rig at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2009 (ISO 160; shutter speed 1/60; F16; Focal Length 20mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Environmental portrait in the Space Mechanisms Facility at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2010 (ISO 200; shutter speed 1/125; F11; Focal Length 38mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Photo of the Surface Mobility Research (left) at NASA Glenn Research Center, photo of lunar surface from NASA archive (right), 2010 (ISO 160; shutter speed 1/90; F11; Focal Length 14mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Photo of test hardware inside of the 8×6 foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2010 (ISO 200; shutter speed 1/125; F16; Focal Length 17mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Photo of a Solar Array test at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2010 (ISO 200; shutter speed 1/125; F8; Focal Length 24mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Photo of the Communication, Navigation, and Networking Reconfigurable Test-bed at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2011 (ISO 200; shutter speed 1/90; F14; Focal Length 24mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Photo of Crew of STS-134 Astronauts visit baseball fans at a Cleveland Indians’ game, at Progressive Field, 2011 (ISO 250; shutter speed 1/90; F8; Focal Length 29mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Photo of the Icing Research Tunnel at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2011 (ISO 200; shutter speed 1/125; F32; Focal Length 60mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Photo of molecular electronics hardware in the lighting studio at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2011 (ISO 160; shutter speed 1/90; F11; Focal Length 14mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Environmental portrait in the Thrust Vector Control, Subsystem Lab at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2012 (ISO 160; shutter speed 1/60; F13; Focal Length 17mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy
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Photo of flywheel hardware in the lighting studio at NASA Glenn Research Center, 2012 (ISO 100; shutter speed 1/80; F16; Focal Length 60mm). NASA, Michelle M. Murphy

Perceptual Beauty

Working in a contemporary culture where the attainment of beauty is paramount and science strives to engineer the ultimate look, Murphy’s photography and video art explores opposing positions in the relationship between consumption and rebellion of these ideals. What contemporary advertising and media culture continue to broadcast as acceptable and expected in female appearance, gives Murphy the material to examine the motivations of the wearer and the observer of beauty treatments and products. Inspired by Op Art, Scientific Imaging, and Third-Wave Feminism, Murphy produces macro close-ups of the adorned, treated body and beauty “tools”. Through her processes of scientific observation and interpretation, she playfully uses beauty products as art materials going against their intended purpose to conceal or accentuate parts of the body. The studio environment provides a sexy and cooled down aesthetic reflected in modern advertising photography. Beauty in its contemporary context is Murphy’s discourse. She shifts the “gaze” from the female as a subject to over-the-counter beauty maintenance products. Murphy repeats forms and magnifies the subject creating optical plays for the viewer to discern. The resulting images blend perceptual space and our cultural space…revealing the image of beauty as both an abstract and socially constructed consumable obsession.

“Lashes in a Vacuum”

2012; metallic chromogenic print; 31in x 30in; from the series “Perceptual Beauty.”

“Trans Manicure”

2011; metallic chromogenic print; 20in x 30in; from the series “Perceptual Beauty.”

“Nail Polish Magnetism”

2012; metallic chromogenic print; 30in x 30in; from the series “Perceptual Beauty.”

“Planet”

2012; metallic chromogenic print; 30in x 20in; from the series “Perceptual Beauty.”

“Crater”

2012; metallic chromogenic print; 38in x 30in; from the series “Perceptual Beauty.”

“Foundation: with less control”

2011; metallic chromogenic print; 30in x 38in; from the series “Perceptual Beauty.”

“Eyeliner Tracks”

2012; metallic chromogenic print; 30in x 20in; from the series “Perceptual Beauty.”

“Amorphous”

2012; metallic chromogenic print; 20in x 30in; from the series “Perceptual Beauty.”

“Foundation to the Square: Chosen, after Albers”

2011; metallic chromogenic print; 30in x 38in; from the series “Perceptual Beauty.”