Registering the Invisible in Fin-de-Siecle Europe

Jennifer Marine, M.A.

How do we depict the invisible? What lies beyond the visible spectrum? European scientists and artists grappled with these questions at the end of the nineteenth century. Often described as the “frenzy of the visible,” this era was marked by new understandings of the possibilities of invisible worlds. X-rays with spectacularly small wavelengths outside the capacity of human vision, sound and radio waves that preserved and transmitted the voice, and the prospect of proving supernatural phenomena all contributed to this “frenzy,” with both artists and scientists seeking the means to represent these newfound invisible presences. My dissertation, “Registering the Invisible in Fin-de-Siecle Europe,” focuses on the technologies which were used in order to track the visual history of the invisible spectrum and the shifting understanding of what it meant to “represent” something. It is organized around overlapping areas of rupture within the visible spectrum that occupied scientists and artists: sound and the waveform, the medicalized body, and the supernatural. Recordings of the invisible world opened possibilities to materially register that which eluded eyesight, thereby unsettling the disciplinary boundaries between art, science, and technology in the late Victorian era.

Zur Redakteursansicht