Seeing the invisible

posted by Erwin Keustermans / on April 22nd, 2010 / in Science & Art

Although we prefer pictures to represent reality as it is, that is often not the case. Images are made using digital filtering, pseudo-colours and polarised light.  Scientific subjects are isolated, prepared, sliced and coated. So what is shown is often outside the range of immediate perception. But instead of mistrusting the pictures, we find that it adds an extra element of fascination. We trust scientific images to reveal the invisible.

Adam Fuss is a contemporary photographer whose pictures work within this range of conventions. In this photograph of what appears to be a snake on the surface of the water, we are allowed to see the underlying physics of the way the animal moves. The waves emanate elegantly from the points in the cycle that the snake places pressure on the water around it.

Pictures courtesy of Cheim and Read gallery, New York. On the topic of photography and science, last year the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art staged an exhibiton about the history of modern science and photography: “Brought to Light Photography and the Invisible, 1840-1900“.There is a beautiful catalogue still in print.