The National Science and Media Museum in the United Kingdom has opened a new exhibition that combines old technology with virtual reality. Entitled “Thresholds,” the immersive experience recreates the world’s first major photography exhibition.
Participants are taken back in time to 1839, when one of the founders of photography, William Henry Fox Talbot, presented what was then the first substantial exhibition of the then nascent discipline. Via virtual reality, visitors are transported to a virtualized room at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, and are able to walk freely throughout the environment.
Designed by British Artist Mat Collishaw, the immersive experience even allows visitors to touch the room’s furniture and fixture and feel the heat from a recreated coal fire. Adding to the historical authenticity, the exhibit also virtually places visible and audible Chartist protesters, who rioted in the city that year, outside the room.
“VR’s ability to enable visitors to revisit the birth of photography—a medium that has come to saturate our lives—is uncanny and compelling,” said Collishaw.
“It’s also quite appropriate as VR is the total 360 degree immersion of the viewer within an image, and is itself one of the many innovations spawned by the invention of photography.”
The exhibition runs until May 7th.