February 2, 2005
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.--In its first-ever collaborative art and science project, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College presents "Quicker Than a Wink," an exhibition of photographs by inventor and pioneering photographer Harold E. Edgerton, from Tuesday, Jan. 25 until Sunday, Apr. 3. The exhibition features 35 color and black-and-white photographs, from the museum's permanent collection, that explore the unseen world of objects in motion. The organizers-George Greenstein, the Sidney Dillon Professor of Astronomy at Amherst College; Robert Hallock, Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; and Jill Meredith, the director of the Mead Art Museum-will discuss Edgerton, some of his images and his techniques including live demonstrations of a strobe and its effect on the perception of motion on Thursday, Feb. 24, at 4:30 p.m. in Stirn Auditorium, with a reception to follow at the Mead Art Museum.

In the 1930s, Edgerton (1903-1990) developed a powerful, quick and reusable electronic flash lamp that revolutionized photography. His strobe flash, or "speedlight," provided a portable light source that could be linked to a camera, making possible ultra-high-speed photography. During his teaching career as a beloved MIT professor of electrical engineering, "Doc" Edgerton's inventions and photography stopped time, unlocking the secrets of nature for generations of students in a lab today known as "Strobe Alley." The photographs were reproduced in The Boston Herald, National Geographic, Life and other popular magazines and also shown at the Museum of Modern Art in its first exhibition of photography. They brought intimate glimpses of the natural world and frozen moments in sports, the performing arts, and daily life to an amazed public. Taken with microsecond exposures, the photographs reveal the wondrous beauty and scientific principles of such phenomena as birds in flight, a golf swing, the splash of a drop of milk, a bullet piercing a balloon and an atomic blast. Edgerton's novel and memorable images not only elucidate scientific phenomena ordinarily invisible to the human eye, but also reveal the power and poetry of everyday experiences.

The exhibition is accompanied by wall texts that discuss the scientific and technical aspects of the images as well as a CD-ROM kiosk with interactive experiments. As a part of the exhibition, J. Kim Vandiver, dean for undergraduate research, director of The Edgerton Center at MIT and a former research assistant of Edgerton's, will offer two colloquium talks on the "schlieren" or shadow photographs they produced. The colloquium at the University of Massachusetts will be held Wednesday, March 9, at 4 p.m. in Hasbrouck 124, with refreshments at 3:45 p.m. in the lobby. The colloquium at Amherst College will be held on Thursday, March 10, at 4:45 p.m. in Merrill 3.