Rose-Lynn Fisher explored micrographs of the patterns in which different types of tears formed crystals in The Topography of Tears (Bellevue Literary Press, 2017). After having come across with this book, we posed the scientific question: could we identify the emotion which evoked a teardrop based on the images of its crystals? Could we train a computer to perform this prediction?
The task was exciting: collecting a dataset of micrographs of tears from distinct emotions and individuals to train an algorithm to find these patterns. We came to the aesthetical result: we discovered the unicity of tears; each forms its own crystals.
Virgil in his Aeneid tells us that Aeneas, upon arriving to Juno’s temple in Carthage and seeing it wrecked, realizes that the world is a world of tears and the burdens of mortality touch the heart (“sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt”, Aeneid 1, 462). In this world of tears our wish was to collect with our fingers all of them, totæ lacrimæ.
TOTÆ LACRIMÆ is a photographic exhibition of crystals of teardrops from over 15 emotions and 20 different people. It is our ceremony to the beauty of human emotion, the burdens of mortality that touch the heart.