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Exhibition: Collishaw's Thresholds comes to Bradford / from 2 March

In 1839 the world’s first major public exhibition of photographs took place at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, presenting examples created by one of the founding fathers of photography: William Henry Fox Talbot. From 2 March-7 May this historic event will be restaged at the National Science and Media Museum in Thresholds, artist Mat Collishaw’s virtual reality installation which plunges visitors directly into the environment of Talbot’s event, nearly 180 years ago.

Thresholds is a fully immersive portal to the past; visitors can walk freely throughout a digitally reconstructed room where they are able to marvel at Talbot’s inventions, touch the furniture and fixtures, and even feel heat from a recreated coal fire. Infrared sensors track each person’s movements, creating ghostly avatars that show their position and enhance the feeling of travelling through time. To complete the sensory experience Collishaw has created a unique soundscape, as Chartist protesters who rioted in 1839 on the streets of Birmingham can be heard (and seen) outside the room.

Collishaw said: “I have been looking to work with virtual reality for a number of years and I’m delighted that it has now become a feasible medium for me to use in an artwork. VR’s ability to enable visitors to revisit the birth of photography – a medium that has come to saturate our lives – is uncanny and compelling. It’s also quite appropriate as VR is the total 360 degree immersion of the viewer within an image, and is itself one of the many innovations spawned by the invention of photography.”

Thresholds (available to 13-year-olds and over. £3 entry) is a collaboration between Somerset House, the Blain|Southern Gallery, Library of Birmingham, and features imagery recreated from original Talbot photographs and equipment held at the National Science and Media Museum. The original exhibition was crowdfunded. 

See more here:

Image: Thresholds at Somerset House © Richard Eaton

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