Scientific images that ask questions

The SNSF Scientific Image Competition 2022 casts an unconventional light on research conducted in Switzerland. One of the winning images is by Stephan Hochleitner, a postdoc in Political Geography. They will be exhibited at the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography in May 2022.

"Creating a Glacier" by Stephan Hochleithner, University of Zurich
"Creating a Glacier" by Stephan Hochleithner

Creating a Glacier by Stephan Hochleithner, Department of Geography, UZH (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Jury distinction in Category 3: Locations and instruments

Our approach towards so-called natural phenomena has changed from seeing nature and culture as separate, interconnected systems or even two distinct worlds towards seeking to understand multiple realities as co-constituted by human and natural entities alike. Part of the lower section of the Rhône Glacier in Valais is covered with tarp to preserve an ice-grotto from melting. The grotto has been a way for visitors to “experience” the glacier for over 150 years and is maintained by carving it into the ice over and over again using chainsaws. One of the persons doing this work can be seen at the bottom of the picture. The “glacier” is thus continuously being re-produced collectively through various spatio-temporal encounters, between those cutting the grotto, water, climate, rocks, etc., and those visiting the site.

Comment by the jury

The strong framing is reminiscent of the classical composition of early 20th century photography. It highlights the paradoxes of tourism in times of climate change, underlining how landscapes change through a combination of human activity and natural forces.

The international jury of the 2022 SNSF Scientific Image Competition has awarded four first prizes and ten distinctions. A total of 334 works were submitted this year. The competition attracted 334 entries from which the jury selected the winners. But all the works exemplify the variety of research conducted in Switzerland and its capacity to surprise, challenge and fascinate. 

Over 2300 images and videos accessible online

All the entries to the competition – more than 2300 to date – are available in an online gallery on Flickr. Images from 2018 onwards can be used for non-commercial purposes and by the media under a Creative Commons licence.

The winning images and videos for 2022 will be on display at the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography from 6 to 29 May 2022. 

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