Catherine Wagner: Art & Science: Investigating Matter

Art & Science: Investigating Matter is an exhibition catalog housing Catherine Wagner’s photographs of the subjects and objects of hard science, as well as essays by William H. Gass and Helen E. Longino.  The book is edited with text by Cornelia Homburg and a foreword by Joseph D. Ketner. It was published in conjunction with Wagner’s 1996 exhibition of the same name at the Washington University Gallery of Art in St. Louis, Missouri before later traveling here, to the International Center of Photography.

In Art & Science: Investigating Matter Catherine Wagner employs the democratic power of photography to equalize everything from radioactive cell growth to beakers and flasks to fruit flies using an approach that reflects her subject, the scientific laboratory.

However, despite her precise rending, Wagner gives little information on the scientific material she captures.  Some of the objects she depicts seem as if they could as easily be props from the set of a James Whale’s Frankenstein as specimens brought back from Captain Cook’s first voyage to Tahiti as objects from contemporary labs.  In this way. Catherine Wagner’s images are reminiscent of Romantic science and carry the age’s science of wonder into the present.

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Art & science : Investigating Matter, Wagner, Catherine, TR647 .W35 1996

This post is part of a series highlighting instances of consilience (the linking together of principles from seemingly disparate disciplines) within single works in the ICP Library’s collection with an eye on photography’s unique ability to bridge the distances between art and science.

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