Material Sight

Fiona Crisp, Safe Haven 2010; Giclée print from colour transparency; Courtesy the artist

Material Sight invites us into an embodied relationship with the spaces of fundamental science where knowledge, imagination and the capabilities of photography itself are all at stake.

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art
24 March – 13 May 2018
Admission free
Preview: Friday 23 March, 6:00 - 8:00pm
Arts Catalyst Centre for Art, Science & Technology, London
7 June - 14 July 2018
Admission free
Preview: Wednesday 6 June, 6:00 - 8:00pm
Material Sight is a major new commission by artist Fiona Crisp, that uses photography, moving image and sound to approach the material environments where scientific experiments that challenge the limits of our imagination are carried out. Over nearly two years, in a research partnership with Arts Catalyst, Crisp has worked at three world-leading research facilities for 'fundamental science': Boulby Underground Laboratory, sited in the UK's deepest working mine, Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology, and Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, the world's largest underground laboratory for particle physics, housed inside a mountain in central Italy.
Across all these sites, knowledge is pursued at scales and distances far beyond our human sensing, from the macro scale of the multiverse to the micro scale of the subatomic world. Within environments such as these, some of the most complex questions about the structure and history of the universe are being asked, yet the sites themselves, and the science performed in them, are often invisible or inaccessible to the public. In Material Sight, Crisp explores how we might encounter this sensory remoteness, not through a documentary narrative but by being placed into a physical, tangible relationship with the spaces and laboratories in which science is performed. To this end, Crisp builds a landscape of image and sound, using scaffolding to support a cycle of large-scale photographs and moving image works.
Material Sight inaugurates the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art’s new space located within National Glass Centre, Sunderland, in March 2018, before coming to Arts Catalyst Centre for Science, Art & Technology, London, in June.
From their research, Fiona Crisp and Arts Catalyst’s artistic director Nicola Triscott are writing and editing a new illustrated book, titled The Live Creature & Ethereal Things: Physics in Culture. The book will feature contributions from several physicists and artists reflecting on physics in culture and the culture of physics and it will be published to coincide with the exhibition, available in print and as an ebook.
Material Sight is commissioned by the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and Arts Catalyst.
Keep up to date with Fiona Crisp's ongoing project research by following the Material Sight research blog.
Fiona Crisp is an artist known for creating installations of large-scale photographs that question the presence of the photographic object as an unstable and deeply equivocal phenomenon. Her projects have been created by spending intensive periods of time in particular locations. Previous projects have included working in the Early Christian catacombs of Rome, and in a Second World War underground military hospital. Crisp studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. The project Material Sight has been supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. Crisp's work is held by several national collections of contemporary art, including Tate, the British Council, Arts Council and Government Art Collection. Her work is represented by Matt's Gallery, London.
Following a capital redevelopment project in 2017, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art will reopen a new 3200 sq ft, 5m high exhibition gallery at National Glass Centre, part of the University of Sunderland. Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019 having been one of the very first contemporary art galleries in Britain. It has provided major international figures with their first UK exhibitions, including Harun Farocki (Germany) and Cory Arcangel (USA), and exhibited fourteen Turner Prize nominees.
Generously supported by The Leverhulme Trust, Arts Council England, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.