Mat Collishaw recreates first ever exhibition of photography

By Jo Phillips

Mat Collishaw’s forthcoming project “Thresholds” will recreate the first ever exhibition of photography. The project will be a national touring VR exhibition that will look at the birth of photography. This is a unique example of a collaboration of this kind with an artist – the experience is designed to create multiple levels of reality and Mat has worked with Nottingham University’s mixed reality lab, architectural historians, experts on the history of photography, the Science Museum, British Library, Royal Institution, Lacock Abbey and the National Media Museum. “Thresholds” will recreate the first ever exhibition of photography in 1839, revisiting the birth of a medium that has come to saturate our lives and spawned so many others. The 1839 exhibition presented revolutionary works by Fox Talbot; his original images weren’t evolved enough for the images to remain fixed so they are heavily damaged, no longer visible to the public only a few remain in light proof vaults. Also included in the exhibition were many other technological innovations of the time which Mat has researched and will be digitally rebuilding along with the photographs and the venue (a building designed by Charles Barry which also no longer survives) for the show. What is innovative about the project is that visitors will be able to walk around the exhibit freely and untethered and will be able to touch the displays they see in the VR headsets. This will really bring the past to life and allow people to access heritage buildings and objects in a way that has not been possible before.


He and his project partner Pete James have raised a lot of money already but to allow the exhibition to tour more widely, he is offering a range of exclusive items and experiences via Kickstarter. The details of the project can be found here  – along with video that gives a feel for the project.


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