about a tiny world
“A Tiny World” is a passion project, created by Canadian artist and software specialist, Julie Laurin. It’s an ongoing project to introduce the general population to the microscopic world, and to share Julie’s exploration and curiosities along the way. The project is largely self-funded, with additional funding from Twitch subscribers.
“A Tiny World” currently explores freshwater samples from ponds, creeks and swamps, as well as urban microscopic life that lives on balconies and sidewalks all around us. However, it was never intended to be exclusively focused on Science. The goal of this project is to see what other possibilities we can explore from the point of view of everyone’s curiosity, whether they be artists, scientists, or hobbyists.
Lastly, “A Tiny World” aims to encourage people to explore without always knowing anything about that which is being explored. The drive to be curious, and the impulse to try something new is the main reason why this project exists.
I grew up in Chelmsford, Ontario. It’s a really small town just outside of Sudbury. We had a forest in our backyard, a vegetable garden and a nearby field with overgrown grass – it’s where we’d find grasshoppers and snakes. My parents were very nature-oriented as they both grew up on farms and they insisted that my sister and I both respected and enjoyed being outside. My Dad taught me how to fish when I was a toddler, and that became my obsession early on.
I loved being outside, but I also grew out of it by the time I was a teenager. I discovered the arts, and technology, and I ended up growing into a career as a software manager, with a second career in the arts, as an artistic photographer, on the side. (You can see my artistic work here!)
In 2018, I lost the ability to walk independently for six months. That moment changed my life. The minute I could walk again, I got myself a bike and I went into nature. I spent a ridiculous amount of time with the trees at the local arboretum. I discovered our local conservation areas. I adopted the Fletcher Wildlife Garden as my own, spending almost every day there, admiring textures and photographing them.
In the fall of 2019, I got myself a microscope. I had one when I was a kid, but it didn’t have all the bells and whistles that this one had. I used it without reading a manual or looking anything up online (that’s my usual approach, anyway). Once I figured out how it worked, I started looking at anything and everything that I could look at.
I’ve found pond water samples most amazing, so far. I think it’s because it’s life I’d never seen with my own eyes before. I’d spent so much time in the woods as a kid, but never once did I see what actually lives in those leaves, and in the soil. It’s exciting! And every sample is different. I’ve been collecting them from various local ponds and swamps, and in some cases, people have brought me samples from their regions!
I’ve also enjoyed photographing melting snow. A lot of people have photographed snowflakes, but melting snow creates shapes and landscapes that are reminiscent of alien worlds! Luckily, I live in a cold climate, in Ottawa, Ontario, where we spend a solid four months of the year covered in snow!
This journey has been amazing so far. My social media time has mostly been spent on Twitter, where I’ve met some incredibly generous scientists who have shared a lot of their knowledge with me. I’ve met artists and other enthusiasts who are just as curious about this tiny world as I am.
I hope this website helps you discover a world you’d never seen before, and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions. Have fun!
– Julie Laurin