Friday, 8 February 2013

On Art & Science:

Artist Melanie K has a nice blog she calls Beyond The Violet where she makes a cyanotype everyday for a year. Seemingly banal items are given a strange hue and look really good in the frieze-like format she displays them on her blog.

It would appear that she is studying Science and Art which is an interesting combination. The history of photography is, of course, tightly wound up with 20th century science and we would not have many of the break-throgh's in science if it was not for photography. Many images of what could be termed science photography are barely perceptable to us as images though and this is why these blueprints are interesting in their beauty and relationship to early science photography, many examples of which were executed as cyanotypes, which is also where we get the architectural blueprint from.

Melanie K's main site is also very nicely done and there are a lot of very interesting photo-experiments on there:

Here are a few images that her work made me think of...

Edward E. Barnard, Nine selected areas of the Milky Way photographed on a small scale, plate 51, 1927, Albumen print.

Emil Zettnow, Microrganism Plate X, c.1902, silver gelatin.

Henri Becquerel, Isolation of gamma radiation in Radium, after Paul Villard, 1903, gelatin silver print.

Becquerel conducted experiments to determine whether photography could detect invisible and dangerous rays. He wrapped uranium and potassium, etc in photographic paper and left them in a box in the dark so that no light could affect them. The photographic emulsion simulated the rays transmitted by the radioactive items transferring them onto the paper and resulting in such highly abstract images as above. Images that are virtually impossible to read as images and so confound our conventional understanding of how we read a photograph. Many of these experiments in photography are still used in detecting radiation even today in the use of small badges with photographic paper inside which, when tested, or developed, can tell whether a person has been over-exposed to radiation. Not as romantic as Becquerel's  early experiments but they've probably saved a few lives.

Frederick H. Evans, Spine of Echinus (Spine of a sea urchin), album page comparing three prints of spines of sea urchins, negative and silver prints made before 1886.

All of these images are taken from: Photography and Science, Kelley Wilder, Exposures series, Reaktion Books, 2009.


  1. Thanks for featuring me on your blog. I do have a question for you regarding daguerreotypes and framing, is there an email I can forward it to?

  2. You're welcome. You can contact me on and I shall do my best to answer your question.