Harold E. Edgerton: Seeing the Unseen, Ikon


Bullet Through Balloons, Harold E. Edgerton

21 July — 5 September 2010

The Pallasades Shopping Centre, 68A East Mews, Birmingham B2 4XJ 

In January 1976 Ikon Gallery staged Seeing the Unseen, the first European solo exhibition by the pioneering American scientist and photographer Dr Harold E. Edgerton. At the time Ikon was housed in a shop unit of the Birmingham Shopping Centre, now the Pallasades, and Ikon returns just a few doors away from its previous home to revisit the exhibition.

Edgerton’s invention in the 1930s of a photographic process based on rapid, stroboscopic instances of light or ‘flash’ was a catalytic event in the history of photography, science and art. Using this method Edgerton’s images reveal in precise detail previously unseen aspects of reality. His remarkable multiple-flash pictures of tennis players, golfers and divers such as Swirls and Eddies: Tennis(1939) break down movements into moments. In other works he stops time with unexpected results: Milk-Drop Coronet (1957) reveals the beauty of a milk drop that forms a distinct crown shape. Seeing the Unseen, as the title suggests, shines a light on phenomena we may otherwise miss. Edgerton’s film Seeing the Unseen (1939) is shown alongside his photographs plus an archive of correspondence, technical papers and printed materials relating to the 1976 exhibition.

This presentation was curated by Morgan Quaintance and Jane Morrow, and is organised in collaboration with Birmingham Central Library with particular thanks to Curator of Photographs, Pete James.

The Pallasades is situated in the city centre, above Birmingham New Street Station.