Norton Museum of Art

West Palm Beach, Florida

(561) 832-5196


Seeing the Unseen: Dr. Harold E. Edgerton and the Wonders of Strobe Alley

September 9 - October 25, 1998


Seeing the Unseen. Dr. Harold E. Edgerton and the Wonders of Strobe Alley explores the ingenuity behind the creativity in the career of Edgerton (1903-1990), the legendary Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist, photographer, and teacher who developed new ways of seeing the fascinating world that is imperceptible to the human eye. The exhibition is organized and circulated by the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. The exhibition was made possible with support from The Harold and Esther Edgerton Family Foundation, E.G. & G, Inc. and Bron Elektronic AG.

Edgerton was a pioneer in the field of high-speed photography, exploring the effects of the stroboscope and electronic flash when directed at moving objects. His subjects ranged from birds in flight to the first millionth of a second of an atomic blast. Some of his more famous images include the compression of a tennis ball against a racquet, the multiple movements of a golfer's swing, a speeding bullet as it passes through an apple, and the coronet formed by a milk drop as it splashes into a saucer. The exhibition contains many of these stop-motion images, which, in addition to being scientific evidence, are considered objects of art.

However, rather than being the focal point, they will play a supporting role as the exhibition reveals the working process of Edgerton in his laboratory environment. Known by Edgerton's students and colleagues as "Strobe Alley," it was a place for teaching, invention, and creative exploration. The exhibition which replicates that environment, includes:

· Image Wails. A span of four walls surrounds the exhibition core. Two exterior surfaces provide a backdrop for the mini-theater and the strobe activity area. The remaining exterior surfaces are treated with graphics and signage. The interior surfaces carry approximately 125 examples of Edgerton's images.

· Equipment. In keeping with the look and feel of Edgerton's laboratory, approximately 20 pieces of his equipment are displayed on laboratory shelving typical of "Strobe Alley." Text and graphics explain the equipment.

· Demonstration stations. Four electromechanical devices, typical of those used by Edgerton to teach students, are mounted on laboratory tables.

· Laboratory teaching station. This area provides a stage for group demonstrations. When not in use, it is a static mock-up of a laboratory, complete with tools and artifacts reminiscent of"Strobe Alley."

· Mini-theater. Along one ofthe exterior walls, a large video monitor is mounted, which will feature a 15-minute video on Edgerton, a selection of his high-speed cinema images, and, highlighting his work, the Academy Award-winning movie Quicker 'n A Wink.

· Strobe activity area. This large-scale activity area located on another exterior wall is comprised of a phosphorescent wall approximately 8 by 16 feet that when illuminated by strobe bursts, retains a silhouette of any figure or object that stands between the strobe and wall. Text and instructions are displayed.

· CD-ROM stations. Located in the center of the exhibition are two CD-ROM stations where a visitor can explore interactive programs.

From top to bottom: Milk Drop Coronet, 1957, chromographic development process; Cutting the Card Quickly, 1965, chromographic development process


rev. 11/26/10

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