Anderson & Low have re-imagined the Science Museum’s ship model collection in a series of ghostly photographs
When Marcel Proust wrote, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” it’s unlikely he had the reinterpretation of a museum collection of ship models in mind.
Yet this positive dictum seems somehow appropriate with these impressionistic photographs by Anderson & Low, who have dramatically transformed The Science Museum’s humble ship model collection.
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Voyages is now open at the Science Museum and offers an intriguing reinterpretation of a much-loved collection, which until a few years ago represented the development of maritime history in miniature model form.
Once a mainstay of many a museum collection, ship models may now sometimes languish in the museum store room, but looking at these artefacts through this spectral lens offers a radical take – in terms of both scale and context.
Ghostly, painterly and decidedly Turner-esque, the photographs draw on the recurring themes of fantasy and perception common in Anderson & Low’s many and varied works, and give the models the sense of drama and narrative denied them in their store room cases.
“These inner dramas were present all along, awaiting discovery by any who looked for them,” say the pair whose varied portfolio includes unusual portraiture and art-house documentary projects, corporate commissions and magazine shoots for the likes of Interview, GQ and the Financial Times.
“One of the singular parallels in the history of science and art is that one can look at the world in a different way, and re-imagine what it might be,” they add.
“Turner said ‘I paint what I see, not what I know to be there.’ The physicist William Bragg said ‘The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.’’
These detailed yet seemingly humble old objects, photographed using only ambient light behind their protective layers of plastic, have been subject to careful conservation since the decommissioning of the Science Museum’s Shipping galleries in 2012 – since when they have lived in the Museum’s Blythe House object store.
The new light shone upon them by Anderson & Low seems to have re- launched these tiny vessels towards a new vista.
Voyages by Anderson & Low is at the Science Museum until June 25 2017 (free entry). A book of the same has been published to accompany the exhibition and is priced £40.
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