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Mat Collishaw: Thresholds

18 May – 11 Jun 2017
£4.50 / £3.50 Conc

Sat – Tue 10.00-18.00 & Wed – Fri 11.00-20.00

River Rooms
New Wing

Go back in time to the dawn of photography with Thresholds, a new virtual reality artwork by Mat Collishaw. 

Using the latest in VR technology, Thresholds will restage one of the earliest exhibitions of photography in 1839, when British scientist William Henry Fox Talbot first presented his photographic prints to the public at King Edward's School, Birmingham.

The experience will be a fully immersive portal to the past; walk freely throughout a digitally reconstructed room, and touch the bespoke vitrines, fixtures and mouldings; even the heat from a coal fire will be recreated. A soundscape for Thresholds includes the sound of demonstrations of the Chartist protesters who rioted in 1839 on the streets of Birmingham, and who can be glimpsed through the digital windows.



Collishaw has not recreated an historical experience, but has instead constructed an entirely new one

Courtesy of National Media Museum Bradford
Courtesy of National Media Museum, Bradford

The original 19th-century exhibition, staged by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, celebrated cutting edge technological innovation. Unfortunately, Fox Talbot’s original images have faded almost beyond recognition with several of the surviving photographs existing only in light-proof vaults. Thresholds not only restages an important historical exhibition but provides a way to view images that have since been lost.

Mat has worked with photographic historian Pete James; Paul Tennent from Nottingham University’s Mixed Reality Laboratory; respected authority on Fox Talbot, Larry Schaaf; Architect / Architectural Historian David Blissett; the team at VMI studios and The Whitewall Company, London.

Thresholds is presented by Somerset House and Photo London, in collaboration with Blain|Southern gallery. The project is supported by: Colmore Business District, Birmingham City University, King Edward's School, The Schools of King Edward's Birmingham, BOM, an Art Fund Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Grant and the exhibition’s touring partners.

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