Harold Edgerton : Seeing the Unseen

Available for Special Order
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Edgerton invented the electronic flash, capturing what the human eye cannot see

Harold Edgerton was an engineer, educator, explorer and entrepreneur, as well as a revolutionary photographer--in the words of his former student and Life photographer Gjon Mili, "an American original." Edgerton's photos combine exceptional engineering talent with aesthetic sensibility, and this book presents more than 100 of his most exemplary works.

Seeing the Unseen contains iconic photos from the beloved milk drops and bullets slicing through fruit and cards, to less well known but equally compelling images of sea creatures and sports figures in action. Paired with excerpts from Edgerton's laboratory notebooks, the book reveals the full range of his technical virtuosity and his enthusiasm for the natural and human-built worlds. Essays by Edgerton students and collaborators J. Kim Vandiver and Gus Kayafas explore his approach to photography, engineering and education, while MIT Museum curators Gary Van Zante and Deborah Douglas examine his significance to the history of photography, technology and modern culture.

As Harold Eugene Edgerton (1903-90) once modestly described himself: "I am an electrical engineer and I work with strobe lights and circuits and make useful things." Born and raised in Nebraska, the longtime MIT electrical engineering professor pioneered the transformation of the strobe from an obscure 19th-century invention into a key technology of the 20th century. In 1962, Edgerton appeared on I've Got a Secret, where he demonstrated strobe flash photography by shooting a bullet into a playing card and photographing the result.

Publication Date: 
February 19, 2019