We have seen miniature sculpture sell for big money in the market around our Durbar Squares and gift shops. The smaller and detailed they are, the better. There are people who create the smallest human sculpture in the world, and have written names on the Guinness Book of World Records for these.
The microscopic polymer statue by South African sculptor Jonty Hurwitz, entitled Trust, measures just 1/100th of a centimeter and had been called the "smallest sculpture ever made." Trust is so tiny it can stand on a human hair. With dimensions of approximately 80×100×20 microns, here's how the sculpture compares to human hair.
Fig: The sculpture on a human hair.
The picture of the object that will soon become the 3D model is taken. Cameras are set up at every angle and fired at once, capturing the person from every angle. Then, the photos are 'stitched' together using software which outputs a 3D printer-friendly 3D model.
The sculpture was then 3D printed at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Nano Micro Facility. The structure is created using a ground-breaking new 3D printing technology and a technique called Multiphoton Lithography. Ultimately these works are created using the physical phenomenon of two photon absorption. Art, literally created with Quantum Physics.
Photographing these sculptures is also a challenge and requires no ordinary microscope; scanning is done using electron microscope, where the team analyzes and photographs the nano sculptures. The "Nano-sculptures" are made from a mysterious resin, a big scientific secret, and created through a process called "two-photon lithography.
Hurwitz works with a team of nanotechnology engineers at Karlsruhe University, who focus beams of ultraviolet light to "zap" solid the liquid resin, one 3D pixel at a time. The resulting sculptures, he has also created a statue depicting the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche, can lie on an ant's head. Put one into the eye of a needle, and it will barely occupy one corner.
Fig: Sculpture on the eye of a needle.
Even still, there are some who think that the sculpture was never there. Invisible to the naked eye, how can we trust this sculpture ever existed beyond the computer screen? This mystery gets right to the heart of nano-scale's appeal. At that scale, the sculpture doesn't really exist, or our perception doesn't allow us to perceive its existence. In a way, it challenges the whole idea of contemporary art, by asking, "A piece of art you can't really see, is it really a piece of art?”
Whether you believe it or not, there is no saying no to the level of appeal that tiny sculptures bring forth, and we are fascinated by the science of it. We would never have thought that art could be done at so small scale in so much detail.