This publication represents one in a line of collaborations between two institutions—The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, founded in 1852—and Aperture, which is nearing its 50th year. Neither the magazine nor the V&A exhibition on the subject of time concern themselves, except incidentally, with great historical events.
The Welsh photographer John Dillwyn Llewelyn was in many ways a modern, or at least a pre-modern. More than other early photographers, he was interested in photographing time. He made perhaps the earliest successful exposures of such fleeting events as waves breaking.
The editors of the Philadelphia Photographer declared, in January of 1879, that Eadweard Muybridge's photographs were "enough to turn your brain." "We stretch our imagination to the maximum," they wrote, "and are forced to cry 'stop.' "
Flashback: The Photography of Dr. Harold Eugene Edgerton
MILK DROP CORONET, 1957
LEAD FALLING IN A SHOT TOWER, 1936
PIGEON RELEASE, 1965
MILK DROP SPLASH SERIES, CA. 1935
BULLET THROUGH PLEXIGLAS, 1962
ANTIQUE GUN FIRING, 1936
STONEHENGE AT NIGHT, 1944
In 1965 I went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] as a freshman. I arrived a little bit early and while wandering around, I found a gallery. Dr. Harold Edgerton, whom we called "Doc," was always proud of saying he had the only museum that was never closed.
A great achievement of neolithic man stands on a plain in England where there is a 360-degree view of the horizon. This configuration of stones, with its massive uprights and lintels has remained an enigma for centuries.... Many believe that this ancient circle functioned as an observatory for the study of the heavenly luminaries and served a priesthood in arranging an annual calendar of religious ceremonies and festivals.
It is a wonderful thought, that every action which has ever occurred on this sunlit Earth of ours—or indeed, for that matter, anywhere within the illuminated universe—is recorded by the action of light, and is at this moment visible somewhere in space, if any eye could be there placed to receive the waves of light.
The concept that photography was a means for nature to leave her own imprint through the action of sunlight accounted for much of the magical allure of the medium at its inception. The photogenic drawings, or photograms, of plants produced by Talbot from the 1830s aligned conceptually with the phrases that he wrote in his scientific notebooks: "Nature magnified by Herself" or "Look through Nature to Nature's God."
Bruce Bernard, Century. London: Phaidon Press, 1999,1120 pages.
Not long ago the BBC aired a drama serial by Stephen Poliakoff called Shooting the Past, which was subsequently aired on PBS in the United States. It was a gripping, if over-the-top, study of an old photo library that suddenly finds itself at the mercy of American business studies experts.
Mariko Mori, Empty Dream Brooklyn Museum of Art: April 8-August 15, 1999
Lesley A. Martin
Enter the Empty Dream and welcome to the future—the future of art, a future populated by art-stars of the moment, a future that is absolutely now. Or you may find yourself at Mariko Mori's first major solo exhibition, a show that opened at the Serpentine Gallery in London, traveled next to Chicago's Museum of Centemporary Art and finally to the Brooklyn Museum of Art (BMA) this past April.
Martin Barnes is Assistant Curator of Photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, which he joined in 1995. Since 1997 he has worked on the Canon Photography Gallery at the V&A, which draws exhibitions from the museum's national collection of the art of photography.