Revelations Experiments in Photography at the Science Museum’s Media Space

Revelations Experiments in Photography is a photographic exhibition focusing on Scientific photography and how Science has influenced photography. The exhibition is split into three sections: Once Invisible, The New Vision and After the Future.

Revelations Experiments in Photography Media Space Science Museum

The room ‘Once Invisible’ showcases the work of early pioneering scientific photographers which includes the first photograph of a solar eclipse and the first X Ray images. The more I learn about the history of early photography the more I find myself amazed at what could be achieved in a short time after the first permanent photographic image was captured in 1826. A lot of the images depict subjects that would of never been seen before the invention of photography weather that’s because they focused something really small, used long exposures or visualised the invisible like magnetic fields. Auguste Adolphe Bertsch’s image of a honey bee louse magnified 300 times really caught my eye, it’s a pin sharp picture of insect so small that it lives on a honey bee and it was taken in 1875.

Auguste Adolphe Bertsch Honey Bee louse

Auguste Adolphe Bertsch – Honey Bee louse magnified 300 times taken in 1875

Other highlights include a 68 minute exposure of the Orion nebula shot in 1886 by Andrew Ainslie Common, who the exhibition describes as an amateur photographer, knowing how hard astro photography can be amateur seems like an understatement. On a more psychedelic tip were images by Electrical engineer A A campbell-Swinton, he passed an electric current across the surface of photographic plates to produce organic patterns similar to the way mould spreads across a surface.

Orion Nebula by Andrew Ainslie Common

Orion Nebula taken by ‘amateur phtogapher’ Andrew Ainslie Common in 1886

A A campbell Swinton 1892

This image was made by A A campbell-Swinton by passing an electrical current through a photographic plate in 1892

The ‘New Vision’ covers 1920s to 1970s and explores how scientific photography developed and how started to influence visual artists. One of the most stand out images from this part of the exhibition is Light Though a Prism which looks like it could of been the inspiration for one of the most iconic and recognizable album covers of all time: Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” from 1973. Harold Edgerton’s Bullet Through Lemon from 1955 really impressed me, we are used to seeing images from high speed cameras but like the ‘Once Invisible’ it’s impressive to see what could be captured on film in the 50s.

Berenice abbott light though a prism

Berenice abbott – light though a prism 1958

Harold Edgerton’s Bullet Through Lemon

Harold Edgerton’s Bullet Through Lemon 1955

The final room ‘After The Future’ showcases the work of contemporary photographers whose work has a science theme running through it. The real standout piece in ‘After The Future’ is a large scale print from Ori Gersht’s Series Blow Up which uses high speed photography to capture frozen flowers being blown apart. It’s such a stunning image and it really has to be seen as a large print to be appreciated. As someone who is partial to film photography I was really intrigued by Joris Jansen photographs of photographs, he used a microscope to enlarge the grain of a photographic print to produce abstract images.

Ori Gersht Up Blow Up 2007

Ori Gersht – Up Blow Up – 007. Created by freezing flowers with liquid nitrogen and then blowing them up.

As with all exhibitions at the Media Space it’s well worth a look, the first room ‘Once Invisible’ is definitely the most interesting, I find it so inspiring to see what was achievable at the dawn of the photographic era. Revelations Experiments in Photography is on until the 13th of September more info at the Science Museum’s website.

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