Krypton isn’t just the former home of Superman. It’s a chemical element — Kr on the periodic table — that’s a odorless and colorless gas. Because of its spectral lines, it can be used to create stunning works of photography, such as Eric Franklin’s Embodiment, a life-size human skeletal structure lit up the noble gas.
The Portland-based artist constructs hollow anatomical structures lit up with ionized krypton, which glows similarly to neon. Embodiment, which took more than 1,000 hours of work over two years, is built from 10 separate units from borosilicate glass tubing. This is Colossal got in touch with Franklin who talks about building the piece:
Every glass seal has to be perfect, and this piece contains hundreds. Everywhere one tube joins another, or a tube terminates, glass tubes were sealed together. They have to be perfect in order to preserve the luminosity of the krypton. If one rogue molecule gets inside the void of the glass tubing it can eventually contaminate the gas and it will no longer glow. There are times when the holes in the seals are so small that you cannot actually see them with your eyes without the help of a leak detector. Once the glass pieces are ready to get filled with gas, I pull a high vacuum while the glass is hot in order to evacuate any dust or water vapor from the interior surface until there are literally no molecules inside the void of the glass. Then the krypton can be introduced and the glass sealed off. It’s an extremely tedious process, one I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with.