WILMINGTON, DE.- The Delaware Art Museum
presents Faster than the Eye Can See: Photographs by Harold Edgerton, featuring 18 photographs produced at ultra high-speed, on view February 13, 2010 April 25, 2010. Dr. Harold Doc Edgerton redefined the limits of vision, showing things invisible to the unaided eye by stopping time and making it possible to witness split seconds. Produced with a strobe light, which he invented, Edgertons exposures could be as brief as 1/1,000,000 of a second, allowing him to capture a bullet piercing an apple or a hummingbird in flight.
Published in Life magazine and National Geographic and displayed frequently at the Museum of Modern Art, Edgertons photographs have amazed millions since the late 1930s. And although he photographed in the service of scientific and commercial research, Edgerton appreciated the importance of aesthetics to create wonder and communicate ideas. For 25 years he labored to get the perfect picture of a milk drop and the coronet created by its splashthe resulting 1957 photograph is one of the most familiar images of modern visual culture. The enduring appeal of Edgertons photographs results from his combination of technological innovation and visual allure.
Clear, scientific, and exciting, Edgertons photographs are products of American ingenuity that demonstrate faith in technology to reveal truth and improve life. From the vantage point of 2010, Edgertons photographs are delightfully pre-digitalthey date from a time when photographs were routinely equated with truthfulness. Echoing Dragnet, Edgerton has stated: Dont make me out to be an artist. I am an engineer. I am after the facts. Only the facts.
In 1931, Edgerton invented the stroboscope, which would evolve into the electronic flash used in most modern cameras.
One of Edgertons photographs of a milk drop was included in the first photography exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1937.
Edgerton photographed celebrity athletes including ice skater Sonia Henie and boxer Joe Louis. His photographs of track meets and prize fights transformed sports photography.
Edgerton won an Oscar for his short film Quickern a Wink in 1940.
During World War II, Edgerton worked with the United States Army to produce aerial reconnaissance photographs of Germany and the beaches of Normandy at night.
He collaborated with Jacques-Yves Cousteau to perfect underwater photography and film-making.
Edgerton helped develop side-scan sonar technology, used to map the ocean floor and locate wrecked ships including the Civil War ironclad Monitor.
In 1976, Edgerton participated in an (unsuccessful) expedition to locate and photograph the Loch Ness Monster.