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2019 St Andrews Photography Festival: Science & Photography

In October this year St Andrews holds its 4th annual Photography Festival. Drawing heavily on the University’s teaching and research collections to support the theme of ‘Science & Photography’, the festival highlights and builds on a growing relationship between a number of academic schools and departments and the University Library. The festival will feature exhibitions looking back to some of the earliest photographic processes and the major developments that came about in the mid-1800’s with advent of the new image-making system, alongside complementary contemporary artistic process and visualisations.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh ,Colours of Art and Science
Coloured flames produced by burning various salts. © Paul Campbell Photography

The Library’s photographic and photographically-illustrated rare book collections have grown out of, and still strongly reflect, the teaching and research objectives of the University. In many regards these collections reflect innovations emerging from the scientific community, or where there have been major leaps in technological advancements in the photography itself. In other areas we see a strong artistic response to science or the incorporation of scientific practice into the medium.

Drought affected village along the Silk Road, China, Photograph by John Novis_1
Drought affected village along the Silk Road, China. Photograph by John Novis

All these areas speak to the nature of photography as a blending of artistic expression and scientific innovation. This is the basis for the theme of the 2019 St Andrews Photography Festival. By the very nature of the theme, exhibitions are broad reaching; from understanding the psychology of perception to causes, effects and solutions surrounding the climate crisis; or a look into the first attempts to capture movement to visual representation of the 118 chemical elements which make up the entire universe.

Animal Locomotion plate 755 - Pigeon Flying - Eadweard Muybridge SAUL EJM-AL-77_1
Animal Locomotion plate 755, ‘Pigeon Flying’. Eadweard Muybridge SAUL EJM-AL-77

Running in conjunction with the festival, the University Library’s Special Collections Division will be hosting a single day symposium examining the same theme with talks and discussion surrounding various aspects of Science & Photography. Papers will look at four key areas: Photographs as Scientific Objects; Photographing Human Bodies; Scientific Advancements in Early Photography; and Scientific Applications of Historical Practices. The talks presented will inform and reflect on the other exhibitions and events taking place in the town throughout the month of October.

Over the past several years there has been a ground swell of interest surrounding photography, photographic collections, exhibitions and events across Scotland. So, in addition to all that is going on in St Andrews in October, the festival and the University are partnered with Photography Scotland to present The Season of Photography with PHOTO-NETWORKS.SCOT, which runs from September to the end of November, highlighting an array of other photography festivals and exhibitions across Scotland.

Rachel Nordstrom
Photographic Collection Manager

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