Exhibition | Fiona Crisp: Material Sight

Arts Catalyst Centre for Art, Science & Technology, London, London, United Kingdom

Thursday, June 7, 2018 - 12:00 to Thursday, July 19, 2018 - 18:00

Material Sight is an exhibition that invites us into an embodied relationship with the spaces of fundamental science where knowledge, imagination and the capabilities of photography itself are all at stake.

"intense, uncompromising & invasive" – Art Monthly

"The subterranean settings suggest both womb-like security and the dread of underworlds and burials – both opposites held in clever balance here" – Corridor 8

Preview: Wednesday 6 June
Artist introduction & talk: 6:30pm
Preview, drinks & book launch: 7 - 8:30pm

Material Sight is a major new commission by artist Fiona Crisp, that uses photography, moving image and sound to approach the material environments where scientific experiments that challenge the limits of our imagination are carried out. Over nearly two years, in a research partnership with Arts Catalyst, Crisp has worked at three world-leading research facilities for 'fundamental science': Boulby Underground Laboratory, sited in the UK's deepest working mine, Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology, and Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, the world's largest underground laboratory for particle physics, housed inside a mountain in central Italy.

Across all these sites, knowledge is pursued at scales and distances far beyond our human sensing, from the macro scale of the multiverse to the micro scale of the subatomic world. Within environments such as these, some of the most complex questions about the structure and history of the universe are being asked, yet the sites themselves, and the science performed in them, are often invisible or inaccessible to the public. In Material Sight, Crisp explores how we might encounter this sensory remoteness, not through a documentary narrative but by being placed into a physical, tangible relationship with the spaces and laboratories in which science is performed. To this end, Crisp builds a landscape of image and sound, using scaffolding to support a cycle of large-scale photographs and moving image works.

To accompany the exhibition KOSMICA: Ethereal Things, a major event exploring our intimate human connection with particle physics and the physics of the universe, takes place on June 15. Attendees will experience impossible situations, encounter the mysterious realm of subatomic physics, and unravel the cosmic web through experiments, performances, music and poetics.

Fresh from being shown at Sunderland's newly re-located Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Material Sight tours to London's Arts Catalyst Centre for Art, Science and Technology. To coincide with the exhibition in London, Arts Catalyst will publish a new book The Live Creature and Ethereal Things: Physics in Culture, edited by Fiona Crisp and Nicola Triscott.


Fiona Crisp is an artist known for creating installations of large-scale photographs that question the presence of the photographic object as an unstable and deeply equivocal phenomenon. Her projects have been created by spending intensive periods of time in particular locations. Previous projects have included working in the Early Christian catacombs of Rome, and in a Second World War underground military hospital. Crisp studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. The project Material Sight has been supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. Crisp's work is held by several national collections of contemporary art, including Tate, the British Council, Arts Council and Government Art Collection. Her work is represented by Matt's Gallery, London.


Material Sight is a co-commission by Arts Catalyst and the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art. Generously supported by The Leverhulme Trust, Arts Council England, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Find out more:

United Kingdom
Arts Catalyst Centre for Art, Science & Technology, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR