Revelations: an exhibition of scientific discovery

An exhibition showcasing the influence of early scientific photography on modern art is set to take place at The Science Museum in March.

Revelations: Experiments in Photography will present 100 scientific photographs dating back to the 19th century, alongside contemporary photography that it has influenced.

Untitled [Fumées  plan normal à la direction du courant (smoke)] Étienne Jules Marey, 1901, courtesy of Cinémathèque Française, Paris

Source: Courtesy of Cinémathèque Française, Paris

Untitled [Fumées plan normal à la direction du courant (smoke)], 1901, Étienne Jules Marey

The exhibition, comprised of three parts – scientific photography, contemporary photography, and a comparison between the two – includes work by science photographers including William Henry Fox Talbot, Eadweard Muybridge and Étienne-Jules Marey, and contemporary artists such as Trevor Paglen, Idris Khan and Clare Strand.

Pieces within Revelations include Talbot’s work with photomicrography, Berenice Abbott’s high speed photography, visualisation of electrical force by Alan Archibald Campbell-Swinton and László Moholy-Nagy’s camera-less photography work.

Insect wings, c.1840. William Henry Fox Talbot © National Media Museum  SSPL

Source: © National Media Museum SSPL

Insect wings, c.1840., William Henry Fox Talbot

The show has been curated by Greg Hobson, curator of photographs at the National Media Museum, and Dr Ben Burbridge, lecturer in art history at the University of Sussex.

The curators aim to emphasise the importance of scientific discovery, Burbridge says. “Early scientific photographs both exposed and surpassed the limits of human vision,” he says. “They revealed important possibilities, and spoke in clear terms about man’s changing relationship to science and technology.”

He adds: “These qualities lie at the core of the photographs’ appeal for twentieth-century artists – they have found currency again among artists working in the context of our own ‘digital age’.”

A book featuring essays by both curators will accompany the exhibition, and will be priced at £35.

Blow Up, Untitled 1, 2007, Ori Gersht © Ori Gersht, Private Collection

Source: © Ori Gersht, Private Collection

Blow Up, Untitled 1, 2007, Ori Gersht

Revelations: Experiments in Photography will run from 20 March – 13 September 2015 at Media Space, Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2DD. It will also run from 19 November 2015 – 7 February 2016 at the National Media Museum, Little Horton Lane, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 1NQ. Admission is £8 (Concessions: £6).

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