Created by artist Mat Collishaw, Thresholds uses virtual reality to restage the world’s earliest major exhibition of photography, which was presented in 1839 by British scientist William Henry Fox Talbot. The piece debuted at London’s Somerset House during the 2017 international photography fair Photo London.
Designed to engage the senses, Thresholds at Somerset House was presented in a room built to resemble the gallery used for Talbot’s original exhibition. Simultaneously immersed in the digitally constructed room, visitors were invited to walk around the physical space and touch bespoke vitrines, fixtures and moldings. Collishaw also recreated the heat and scent of a coal fire.
The project demonstrated the creative potential of VR: “It’s going to have a similar impact on art as photography did,” explained Collishaw. Thresholds has been presented at other venues including Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and The National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, UK.