Review: Revelations – Experiments in Photography

Cam 05 0004

Blow Up Untitled-1 2007 Ori-Gersht Private-Collection

This exhibition takes you on a journey from early scientific photography and demonstrates, through some rare photographic images, how it has developed into a modern and contemporary art form.

The first room displays work by some of the early pioneers of photography and the different images they were able to produce on different media. It shouldn’t be forgotten the time spent developing these processes; experimenting with numerous materials and chemicals to produce a light sensitive surface on which to capture their images.

Ernest Payne, Étienne-Jules Marey, and Eadweard Muybridge, for example, enhanced the knowledge and development of: anatomy through X-rays, aviation from the study of wave patterns, and physical training programmes for soldiers and athletes through the analysis of motion captured in a series of instantaneous photographs.

Bullet through Apple-1964 Color Harold Edgerton MIT 2015 courtesy of Palm Press Inc.

Bullet through Apple-1964 Color Harold Edgerton MIT 2015 courtesy of Palm Press Inc.

The second room displays modern photographers such as Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy, and Harold Edgerton whose images were concerned with aesthetics, composition, contrast and tone. The science of photography became art.

Contemporary images displayed in the final room – inspired by those early pioneers – include photographers: Claire Strand, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Ori Gersht, Walead Beshty, Joris Jansen, Trevor Paglen, and Sharon Harper. Ori Gersht’s film, ‘Blow Up,’ (pictured) is one of many highlights of the exhibition.

As a visual and (brief) historical experience, this exhibition has something for all ages. You gain a sense of wonder and appreciation from the scientists who made the invisible visible, who froze moments in time making photography a magical and inspirational art form.

Revelations: Experiments in Photography is at Bradford’s National Media Museum and opens 20 November 2015 – 3 February 2016.