Join OCA tutor Jayne Taylor on this study visit to Thresholds—British artist Mat Collishaw’s virtual reality restaging of the world’s first major photography exhibition—at the Science & Media Museum in Bradford on Saturday 5 May.
In 1839 the world’s first major public exhibition of photographs took place at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, presenting examples created by one of the founding fathers of photography: William Henry Fox Talbot.
This historic event is currently being ‘restaged’ at the National Science and Media Museum in Thresholds, Mat Collishaw’s virtual reality installation which plunges the viewer directly into the environment of Talbot’s event, nearly 180 years ago. The installation features imagery recreated from original Talbot photographs and equipment held at the National Science and Media Museum. To complete the sensory experience Collishaw has created a unique soundscape, as Chartist protesters who rioted in 1839 on the streets of Birmingham can be heard (and seen) outside the room.
I have been looking to work with virtual reality for a number of years and I’m delighted that it has now become a feasible medium for me to use in an artwork. VR’s ability to enable visitors to revisit the birth of photography—a medium that has come to saturate our lives—is uncanny and compelling. It’s also quite appropriate as VR is the total 360 degree immersion of the viewer within an image, and is itself one of the many innovations spawned by the invention of photography.
– Mat Collishaw
The study visit will include the opportunity to view Immersion, a display of historic items highlighting how innovators have constantly sought to use science and technology to create increasingly immersive sensory experiences in the fields of photography, cinema and recorded sound. There will be a tutor-led discussion on both exhibitions, afterwards, and – if there is demand – an informal, constructive group review of student work-in-progress.
In the afternoon we will walk to Impressions Gallery to take in their exhibition offering.
Also published on Medium.