Comments from the exhibition:
- Discovering the influence of early scientific photography on modern and contemporary art.
- The invention of photography transformed how the world was viewed, recorded and experienced. Understood as a mechanical recording device, it was quickly adopted by scientists as a way of providing accurate and objective records of the world. As photography’s place within scientific investigation developed, it helped lend for to phenomena that had previously been invisible to the naked eye. Dating from the 19th and early 20th century, the works in this exhibition has been divided into three groups based on the changing perceptions of the world that the photographs encouraged. The first focuses on photographs made with telescopes and microscopes; the second explores high-speed photography and the use of long exposures; and the third addresses photographs of electricity magnetism and radiation. These images speak of an extraordinary moment in the development of photography, and of a culture in which new technologies helped to transform experiences of the world. They belong to a period defined by a series of inventions that contributed to the sense of a world in flux.
- William Henry Fox Talbot – he first coated paper with a solution of common salt (sodium chloride), followed by a solution of silver nitrate. He discovered that the resulting silver chloride was more light-sensitive than silver nitrate used alone, and allowed minute details to be captured.
- Arthur Clive Banfield explored myriad photographic genres, including pictorialism, portraiture, landscapes, photomicrography and motion studies. While ostensibly scientific in their appearance, these colour transparencies were intended primarily to demonstrate the aesthetic and technical possibilities of photomicrography when combined with the auto chrome process, first introduced in 1907.
- Lean Gimpel made colour stereoscopic photographs of the Moon, using the anaglyphic method. Two images are produced in different colours – in this case red and cyan. When the images are viewed through filters of the same colours, each eye only sees the corresponding left or right image, which the brain then perceives as a three-dimensional picture.
- Daguerreotype by John William Draper shows the infra-red and ultraviolet parts of the solar spectrum, which lie beyond the limits of what can be seen by the naked eye. Draper made it by using a prism, to spread sunlight across the photographic plate. The sensitivity of the photographic emulsion recorded light beyond the red and violet limits and captured spectral absorption lines within them.
- The photograms by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy are indebted to both X-ray photography and pictures of electrical charges, which provided examples of camera-less photography that did away with the conventions of single point perspective. The photograms were made by passing light over through objects positioned above photographic paper. Because the light cannot pass through the object, that part of the paper remained unexposed and white impression was left underneath.
- The 2008 series Lightning Fields, by Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, was produced when a Van de Graaff generator was used to pass electrical discharges across a photographic dry plate. The idea of observing the effects of electricity on the photographic plate grew out of Sigumoto’s interest in the discoveries of scientific pioneers including Benjamin Franklin, Michael Faraday and William Henry Fox Talbot, and a desire to ‘verify them with my own eyes’. The series relies on a physical interaction of photographic plate and electricity, in a way that foregrounds the materiality of analogue photographic processes.
My personal opinion:
When usually thinking about art exhibitions I could have never though of visiting the Science Museum in London before. I have gotten interested in this exhibition mostly because it was related by the way the photographs were created, what processes have been used, how the outcomes looked like. I have always been interested in photography and such scientific images still look highly artistic and interesting to me. I must say, this exhibition has gave me loads of inspiration not only for my units in the university this year but as well as for the future projects. I had a possibility to observe some rare photographs starting from 19th to early 20th century. Here are some other photography processes I have noticed mentioned in the work description boxes: Salted paper print from calotype negative; lantern slides; albumen prints; anaglyph, 3D autochromes; Woodburytype process; Daguerreotype; Cyanotype print; Gelatin Silver print; Platinum print.
How this exhibition relates to what I do?
For this years Final Major Project I have decided to create my final pieces using old alternative photography techniques such as the Cyanotype and Phtotogram. I have decided to visit this exhibition in order to gain more inspiration as well as look at other’s work and find the names of people who has used these processes before. What I did not expect is that I will gain a lot more knowledge how these processes can be used in different areas other than art – as this exhibition was mostly focused on the scientific side and capturing the proof when using these processes. I have learned as well, that sometimes inspiration can come from completely different sources other than art exhibitions – having an open mind and visiting different kinds of exhibitions can bring up even more ideas than expected. My following plan would be to research the names I have written down from the exhibition that were highly inspiring and try to look at the photographs they have created from an artistic perspective.
Due to the prohibition of taking photographs and their rights I have decided to post only few photographs in this blog post and leave the rest for my own future reference.