Picturing the Invisible

Paul Coldwell, Ruins III (Silver) (2018), woodcut, 56 x 76 cm.

Picturing the Invisible is an interdisciplinary project funded through the British Arts and Humanities Research Council that brings together specialists from a variety of disciplines to discuss how they go about creating images—concrete or ideational—of things that cannot be seen. The project bridges the “two cultures” decried by C.P. Snow in 1959—allowing us to cross the “gulf of mutual incomprehension” that can separate the sciences and humanities, and that, like all blind spots, prevents us from perceiving both problems and solutions. The network is led by Paul Coldwell (a frequent contributor to this journal and professor in Fine Art at University of the Arts London), supported by coinvestigator Ruth Morgan, professor of Crime and Forensic Science at University College London Department of Security and Crime Science, and the Director of the UCL Centre for the Forensic Sciences.

Recognizing that the desire to see what cannot be seen is at the heart of all creative enterprises, Coldwell and Morgan invited physicists and curators, surgeons and psychoanalysts, art historians and anesthetists to compare notes. At an initial closed session last spring, participants spoke about brain imaging, pictorial negative space, the nature of inference, and the limits of evidence. In the hiatus between that meeting and an upcoming public conference in November, Art in Print asked the participants to consider works of art they felt paralleled their own experience of conjuring an explanatory or meaningful image to solve a mystery or articulate a thought.

The eight essays that follow are responses to that request. To discover more about the project visit https://www.arts.ac.uk/research/groups-networks-and-collaborations/picturing-the-invisible