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Radio Chipstone: Seeing The Un/Seen

Editor's note: Part one of this Radio Chipstone series originally aired on March 9, 2019.

Credit John Horvath
An image from Un/Seen.

Photography has always been a combination of art and science, even as the techniques of making a photograph have evolved. An exhibition in Madison called "Un/Seen" wants viewers to think about the history of photography as not only about art and image making, but also how it’s connected to the histories of science, alchemy, and magic. According to Sarah Anne Carter of the Chipstone Foundation, it’s the processes we don't see that give us the final images we do.

Un/Seen was created by Carter’s students in the Introduction to Museum Studies class at UW Madison and is currently on view at the Chazen Museum of Art. Iseult Gillespie and Tori Yonkers, both English department doctoral students, were part of a team that created the educational text for the photographs. In this edition of Radio Chipstone, Carter tells contributor Gianofer Fields how she and her students give viewers a peek into the process of fixing image onto paper, metal, and glass.

Un/Seen Part 2: Cyanotype

Snow Joke, Didsbury, Manchester, 2005. Cyanotype, lead toned 6 5/16 x 9 3/8 in. Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Delphine Fitz Darby Endowment Fund purchase, 2006.1.1
Credit Michael J. Ware (English, b. 1939) / Chazen Museum of Art

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When we last spoke to Sarah Anne Carter of the Chipstone Foundation about "Un/Seen," an exhibit created by her students at UW-Madison, the gallery was bare save the beginning of a timeline on one of the walls. It's now a couple of weeks after the opening and what was unseen then is now visible. Carter joins us again with two of her students: Sarah Lange, a Graduate student in the Information School & Jessica Schiffman, an Undergraduate student in the History of Science and Conservation Biology department.

In this edition of Radio Chipstone, Schiffman points contributor Gianofer Fields in the direction of a photo in which the process of making the photograph revealed not only an image, but also opened a door to a greater understanding of the complex science behind it:

Material culture contributor Gianofer Fields with Sarah Anne Carter, Sarah Lange, and Jessica Schiffman at the "Un/Seen" exhibit at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, WI.

Material culture contributor Gianofer Fields curates the Radio Chipstone series. The project is funded by the Chipstone Foundation, a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.