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Birth of Milk Drop 1 – Harold Egerton, 1957

March 5, 2017

Birth of Milk Drop 1 – Harold Egerton, 1957

“Seconds. There it is. Sometimes it’s no use at all. Sometimes it’s tremendous value.” – Harold Edgerton.

Capturing and documenting high-speed events, Edgerton attempts to produce a coronet with a single drop of milk falling into liquid. The contrast between the photograph, the set-up and the concept is time-reliant.
This revolutionary stop-motion photograph resulted in a process that changed the future of photography. Edgerton’s combination of camera shutter speed and strobe-lights lead to him capturing moments that are too quick for the naked eye to visualise. Not only had Edgerton’s photography technology changed our human understanding of the physical world, but it has also allowed us to evaluate and question the progress of contemporary art and design.

As Edgerton’s piece is displayed as a photograph in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the ‘photographers’ role in explaining the artefact is not present. The concept of time in relation to the work may be beneficial to understand the value of the milk drop, but not beneficial to evaluate the concept. Time, as a concept, is ever-changing, its the only constant; this concept in relation to Edgerton’s timely organised photography is affective. His effort in perfecting the image to create a split-second visual is compelling.

The photograph sits in the museum as a technological implement to economic understanding; it is admired equally for its artistic, aesthetic merit as well as its scientific innovative idea. The Victoria and Albert Museum is famously known for its historic art and design decoratives, the link between the contemporary and the old arts is that of vital consideration. Therefore, placing this 50’s photography is politically engaging in the progression of design. It demonstrated the link between old processes leading to contemporary beginning for the arts, constructing the world as we know it.

As Edgerton claims that he is a ‘scientist’ rather than an ‘artist’, it allows the viewer to question the impact of multi-media as professionalism, whilst also questioning the importance of his photography piece in the Victoria and Albert museum.

‘Birth of Milk Drop 1’ enabled the viewer to question the importance of photography in relation to time. It allows us to progress into contemporary art and design by his process of innovative photograph method. Not only has Egerton allowed us to visualise the physical world as we now know it, he has creatively influenced our understanding of art and design.

Bibliography:

– Collections, A. (2017) Milk drop Coronet | Edgerton, Harold | V&A search the collections. Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O83197/milk-drop-coronet-photograph-edgerton-harold/ (Accessed: 5 March 2017).
– Edgerton, H. (2010) See how One man Revolutionzied high-speed photography. Available at: http://100photos.time.com/photos/harold-edgerton-milk-drop (Accessed: 1 March 2017).
-File, W.C. (no date) Milk drop Coronet, Harold Edgerton, 1936. Available at: http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/permanent/windows/south/harold_edgerton.html (Accessed: 2 March 2017).
Harold Edgerton – milk drop Coronet, 1957 (1957) Available at: http://theartreserve.com/harold-edgerton-milk-drop-coronet-1957/ (Accessed: 2 March 2017).

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