The Art Of Innovation

Episodes

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Art As Protest20191007

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, and the Science Museum’s Head of Collections, Dr Tilly Blyth, continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other from the Enlightenment to dark matter.

They focus on the anarchic and furious response to the devastation and trauma of the First World War by the 20th century’s most extreme art movement - Dada. It used noise, cut ups and chaos to feign the irrational and repudiate mechanised warfare.

As Ian reveals, the outrage at the senseless slaughter led many Dadaists to opt for violent and fragmented depictions of a mechanised society, expressed potently in the work of Berlin based Dadaist Otto Dix. His Card Players in which disfigured war veterans have their limbs replaced with contorted versions of prosthetic limbs, amounts to one of the most significant anti-war works by a German artist.

With an urgent need to turn around the ailing post war German economy, new efficient instruments of work for the many physically injured war veterans became a priority. As artificial limbs held in the Science Museum Group’s collection reveal, new multifunctional arms and legs literally plugged a worker into his work station like a semi optimised new part, leading many to question whether technological advance was a confinement, or a truly liberating force.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph (C) Scottish National Gallery

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on the furious artistic reaction to WW1 mechanised warfare

How art and science have inspired each other.

Capturing Time20191003

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other. They focus on photographic innovators of the late 1800s who used new advances in camera techniques to freeze time in the name of science, reanimate in the name of entertainment and seek new truths to human and animal motion.

At the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, Tilly examines part of the Science Museum Group’s extensive collection of photographs by photojournalist and arch showman Eadweard Muybridge. His ingenious photo sequences of stills of a horse in motion helped settle a bet over whether the animal’s hooves leave the ground at speed. He would go on to devise magic lanterns with counter rotating discs of his artistically modified picture sequences to recreate the effect of movement, to the awe and excitement of viewers across America and Europe.

Muybridge had little regard for scientific rigour but whilst on tour in Paris his methods were enough to intrigue scientists such as physiologist Etienne Jules Marey who, as Ian illustrates, devised a chronophotographic camera to achieve multiple exposures of athletes in one single plate.

Instantaneous movement had been finally captured for accurate scientific analysis and for art and entertainment.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph by SSPL/Getty Images

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on freezing time in a speeding up world.

How art and science have inspired each other.

Celebrating Speed20191004

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other. They focus on responses to a new love of personalised transport and the thrilling exhilaration of speed brought about by the humble bicycle.

As Tilly reveals, the exquisite yet simple design of John Kemp Starley’s Rover Safety Bicycle ushered in the 1890s Golden Age of Bicycles – an affordable means of social mobility for all. For a new movement of Avant Garde artists – the Futurists – the energy and velocity of the humble bicycle came to symbolise Italy’s rapidly changing industrial, emotional and moral landscape.

Ian visits London's Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art to examine Umberto Boccioni’s Dynamism of a Cyclist, in which man and machine appear almost as one. The bicycle became star propaganda for the Futurists, whose manifesto set out to challenge traditional society and instil a new disruptive order amidst a future based on technological advance, new freedoms and the ever accelerating pace of modern life.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph (C) Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on the Futurists' lust for speed in a new age of cycling.

How art and science have inspired each other.

Dyeing To Display20191002

A 19th-century purple silk dress in the Science Museum Group’s collection, dyed with the first synthetic dye, is witness to the sheer power that new artificial colours had on turning clothing into an eye-catching art form. The accidental discovery by William Henry Perkin of an artificial purple dye from coal tar extract gave birth to “Purplemania”. It sparked a frenzy of activity among research chemists for more bright new colour dyes and in turn a new rigour in rationalising chemical reactions.

But as Tilly reveals, many in the artistic community, such as the influential Arts and Crafts movement rejected the garishness and impermanence of artificial dyes within the Victorian culture of conspicuous consumption. They sought to influence wealthier individuals with a more modest palette of fast dyes, and in so doing helped condition our reaction to the subtleties in walking the ever important tightrope of taste.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with the Science Museum Group

Photograph (C) The Science Museum Group

Tilly Blyth explores the impact of synthetic dyes on trend, turn-out and taste

How art and science have inspired each other.

Forms Of Knowledge20191009

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other. They focus on a unique encounter between 20th century artists and their discovery of a collection of 19th century mathematical models, once used to illustrate a new world of complex spherical geometry.

As Tilly reveals these “ruled surface” stringed models, now held in the Science Museum Group collection, as well as being educational tools had their own aesthetic appeal. For the Constructivist artists, such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, they were inspiration for new imaginative and abstract sculptural creativity.

As Ian illustrates, with a visit to Hepworth’s 20 ft Winged Figure in central London, this abstract art that embraced new forms, materials and ways of constructing, became highly symbolic of the functional value for art in society. There was a strong desire for a new sense of certainty and common currency in both science and art, during the turmoil of the interwar period.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on encounters between sculptors and stringed maths models

How art and science have inspired each other.

Humans In The Industrial Machine20191008

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other, focussing on anxieties of production control in the industrial age.

LS Lowry’s A Manufacturing Town, along with his many other Lowryscapes, are famously ambiguous in his desire to put the Manchester industrial scene on the map. But the repetition, routine and the gaze of the factory clock is hard to escape.

Tilly examines an early 19th century attempt at production control – the Park Green silk mill clock, one of whose two clock dials dictated the worker’s working hours by being directly tied to the line shaft of the mill’s water wheel – offering relentless, structured repetitive control, much as Lowry’s painting reflects.

But rather than pressing workers from behind, could industrial efficiency be improved by easing difficulties which might confront them? Tilly examines the impact of early psychological recruitment tests that were gaining traction at the time Lowry began his famous Lowryscapes. The tests may have acknowledged that humans weren’t machines, but the ultimate goal was improved productivity.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph (C) The Science Museum Group

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on anxieties of production control in the industrial age

How art and science have inspired each other.

Imagining Matter20191018

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum, and the Science Museum’s Head of Collections, Dr Tilly Blyth, conclude their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other. As science has become more theoretical and conceptual, how can art explore scientific thinking in areas that exceed the limits of what we can conceive?

From photomicrographs of Einstein’s chalkboard used during his lecture on the Theory of Relativity , to blowing up a shed and suspending its charred remains around a lightbulb, inspired by the scientific concept of Cold Dark Matter, the imaginative art installations of artist Cornelia Parker are testament to the way artists can suggest ways of thinking about scientific ideas that in themselves seem abstract and complex.

As Ian and Tilly conclude - from the revelatory light at the centre of Joseph Wright’s Enlightenment painting of the orrery (in Episode 1) to Cornelia Parker’s central cosmological light on what is yet to be known, the ongoing dialogue between science and art is proof they are part of the same rich culture, driven by a curiosity, a creativity and an imagination that is common to both.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in Partnership with The Science Museum

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on imaginative roles artists play in conceiving the cosmos

How art and science have inspired each other.

Omnibus 120190927

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, and the Science Museum’s Head of Collections, Dr Tilly Blyth, with their first omnibus edition in which they draw upon key works of art along with objects from the Science Museum Group's collection to explore how art and science have inspired each other in an age of Romance.

Along the way: the impact of an Enlightenment view of the cosmos; shaping the first impressions of the Industrial Revolution; the power of satire as science gains respectability; seeking truth to nature in the golden age of landscape painting; the anxieties of rapid progress in a new age of steam and speed.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Readers: Shaun Mason, Katherine Cusack, Sean Baker.

Music composed by Mark Russell

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth explore how art and science have inspired each other

How art and science have inspired each other.

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, and the Science Museum’s Head of Collections, Dr Tilly Blyth, with their first omnibus edition in which they draw upon key works of art along with objects from the Science Museum Group's collection to explore how art and science have inspired each other in an age of Romance.

Along the way: the impact of an Enlightenment view of the cosmos; shaping the first impressions of the Industrial Revolution; the power of satire as science gains respectability; seeking truth to nature in the golden age of landscape painting; the anxieties of rapid progress in a new age of steam and speed.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Readers: Shaun Mason, Katherine Cusack, Sean Baker.

Music composed by Mark Russell

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth explore how art and science have inspired each other

How art and science have inspired each other.

Omnibus 220191004

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, and the Science Museum’s Head of Collections, Dr Tilly Blyth, with their second omnibus edition in which they draw upon key works of art along with objects from the Science Museum Group's collection to explore how art and science have inspired each other in the late 19th century's Age of Enthusiasm

Along the way: science meets art in botanical prints; truths about photography unveiled in the first moon images; chemistry and colour in a textile fashion revolution; vision verses realism in capturing motion; celebrating modernity with the dynamism of speed.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Readers: Shaun Mason, Katherine Cusack, Sean Baker.

Music composed by Mark Russell

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth explore how art and science have inspired each other

How art and science have inspired each other.

Omnibus 320191011

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, and the Science Museum’s Head of Collections, Dr Tilly Blyth, with their third omnibus edition in which they draw upon key works of art along with objects from the Science Museum Group's collection to explore how art and science have inspired each other in early 20th century's growing Age of Ambivalence.

Along the way: artists' satirical and furious response to the horrors of mechanised warfare; the clock as a friend and enemy in the industrial workplace; seeking a new language for science and art from mathematical models; the art of the possible as supersonic speeds become reality; turning the atom benign in the Cold War era at the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Readers: Shaun Mason, Katherine Cusack, Sean Baker.

Music composed by Mark Russell

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on how art and science have inspired each other

How art and science have inspired each other.

Omnibus 420191018

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, and the Science Museum’s Head of Collections, Dr Tilly Blyth, with their final omnibus edition in which they draw upon key works of art, along with objects from the Science Museum Group's collection, to explore how art and science have inspired each other in our modern day Age of Ambivalence

Along the way: Ealing Films' warning on the dangers of scientific hubris in The Man in the White Suit; the Polaroid photo's scientific and artistic revolution in the taking and making of pictures; the fragile self regulating Earth in the mystical landmark TV drama Edge of Darkness; can a computer produce original art without human intervention; imaginative revelations at the very edge of our understanding as we seek to explore the nature of the cosmos.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Readers: Shaun Mason, Katherine Cusack, Sean Baker.

Music composed by Mark Russell

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on how art and science have inspired each other.

How art and science have inspired each other.

Patterns From Atoms20191011

The thousands of visitors to the 1951 Festival of Britain were greeted with textile designs on wallpaper and furnishings that had come from atomic scale images created by X ray crystrallography. Images of compounds such as insulin and haemoglobin informed almost every aspect of the festival décor. It was the result of a unique collaboration between textile designers, manufacturers and scientists.

Tilly examines the evolution of the Festival Pattern Group, who would weave a fine line between good design and scientific credibility. As the Group’s molecular patterns on wallpaper and clothing held in the Science Museum Group’s collection reveal, a new window into an invisible molecular world now opened up to the public, a world which previously had only been visible to scientists. Whilst it was all part of the Festival’s post war “tonic to the nation” it rendered the atom benign in an era of cold war anxiety about the excesses of science. It also raised the cultural profile of crystallography.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum

Tilly Blyth on atomic design d\u00e9cor at the 1951 Festival of Britain

How art and science have inspired each other.

Patterns Of Thought20191017

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other, from the Enlightenment to Dark Matter. They examine whether the digital computer, that simply follows a series of logical steps, can produce original art without the creative and emotional intention of a human.

Ian visits Longplayer a piece of music created using an algorithm designed by ex Pogues musician Jem Finer. It will play for a millennium, without repetition, ending on December 31st 2999. The algorithm that defines Longplayer allows the music to be composed in real time according to simple rules. It’s music that plays with ideas of human and physical time

Over 100 years before the digital computer age, Ada Lovelace made a significant intellectual leap by suggesting a computing machine could be used not just for numerical expressions but to manipulate quantities other than number, such as musical notes. As Tilly reveals, it goes to the heart of questions about whether, in the future, anything as a mundane as a piece of computer code can generate music and art that’s genuinely creative without human input.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph (C) LongPlayer Trust

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on computer creativity and sonic art produced by algorithms

How art and science have inspired each other.

Plants On Paper20190930

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, and the Science Museum’s Head of Collections, Dr Tilly Blyth, continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other from the Enlightenment to dark matter

They focus on new ways of illustrating scientific knowledge in the mid 19th century through early photography and print in the blooming world of botanical science.

The desire to take emerging technology and try something new is evident from the first photographic images of plants in a print book: Ian examines botanist Anna Atkins’ stunning and detailed hand printed images of algae held in the Science Museum Group’s collection. Her “cyanotypes” were created by placing specimens of seaweed directly onto photographic paper.

Artist and scientist appear as one, but tensions arise in the desire to create images of plants that are both scientifically useful yet aesthetically pleasing. As Tilly reveals, botanical illustration continued to thrive from a growing need to advance botanical science through the shared drawings and print engravings of skilled naturalists, such as George Worthington Smith. His detailed illustrations for the long running Gardener’s Chronicle ensured new discoveries reached a vast discerning and diverse readership.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with the Science Museum Group

Photograph by SSPL/Getty Images

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on capturing and publishing images of the botanical world

How art and science have inspired each other.

Polaroid Perceptions20191015

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other with a focus on the Polaroid snapshot.

Edwin Land’s invention of near instantaneous photographs without the need for a darkroom, opened up an exciting new chapter of artistic expression and turned the snapshot into a way of exploring human perception.

As Tilly reveals, Land’s pioneering research lab at Polaroid was a convergence of art and technology. It led to new insights into how we as humans perceive coloured objects under many different conditions.

Land’s experimentation closely paralleled artist David Hockney’s foray into Polaroid photography in the early 1980’s His “Sun on a Pool Los Angeles” is a composite of 77 Polaroid snaps from different close up positions of the same scene. As Ian illustrates, Hockney set out to manipulate time and space in an attempt to turn a scene captured instantaneously by a camera, into one which more realistically reflects how we see in real life.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in Partnership with The Science Museum Group

Image reproduced permission of David Hockney Studios

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on shaping artistic landscapes through Polaroid snapshots

How art and science have inspired each other.

Protecting The Earth20191016

The landmark BBC TV drama Edge of Darkness by creative screenwriter Troy Kennedy Martin, became a gritty but nuanced thriller, exploring many powerful themes that dominated cultural and political life in the early 1980’s - from the secrecy of the nuclear state, to the hopes and fears unleashed by the growing tide of global environmentalism.

As Tilly Blyth reveals, the spiritual and scientific inspiration that gives the drama its much lauded spiritual and mythical quality arises from the Gaia hypothesis by maverick scientist James Lovelock. His controversial concept of the Earth as a system in equilibrium, divided environmental scientists. But as Tilly discovers, through the Lovelock archives held in the Science Museum Group collections, Lovelock’s “Daisyworld” model of the Earth’s ability to regulate itself, gave the hypothesis a growing degree of credibility. Edge of Darkness would embrace this power of Gaia leading to a poignant and dramatic climax, and become one of the most critically acclaimed TV series of the decade.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum

Tilly Blyth on a new awareness of a fragile Earth in the mystical drama Edge of Darkness

How art and science have inspired each other.

Reaching For The Moon20191001

Nearly a century before the Apollo astronauts first captured close up images of the lunar surface, similar detailed photographs had appeared in a book by artist and engineer James Nasmyth. Ian unravels the extraordinary creative process Nasmyth went through. He made meticulous drawings from nightly moon observations though his 20 inch telescope, from which he moulded in plaster detailed recreations of the lunar surface. One of his carefully crafted models in the Science Museum Group’s collection is testament to the sheer amount of scientific detail Nasmyth fashioned, and went on to light and then photograph.

It’s no secret Nasmyth’s artistic creations were highly contrived. But intriguingly, as Ian reveals, at a time when this new era of photography offered science an objective untainted eye, it’s Nasmyth’s very contrivance that led to universal praise for their accuracy and authenticity. It was to prove a pivotal moment in the history of scientific imagery and kick-started realistic renderings of other worlds.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph (C) The Science Museum Group

Ian Blatchford on James Nasmyth's compelling images of the lunar surface

How art and science have inspired each other.

Supersonic20191010

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other. They focus on one of the earliest artistic attempts to convey the science and dreams of breaking the sound barrier.

As Ian reveals, transport artist Roy Nockolds’ Supersonic was one of the first abstract images to be commissioned by the aviation industry. It’s an insider’s view of the otherwise secretive post-war research into supersonic test flying that was taking place at the Royal Aeronautical Establishment in Farnborough.

The ultimate challenge of being able to handle a supersonic plane at all speeds was largely met by refining the aircraft wings. As Tilly illustrates, a scale model used to test the effects of wind speeds is held in the Science Museum Group’s collection and is testament to the technological endeavour that would lead to a new era of supersonic travel, and the most iconic aircraft design of the post war period – Concorde.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph (C) The Science Museum Group

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on iconic imagery in the race to break the sound barrier

How art and science have inspired each other.

The Scientific Sublime2019092320190924 (R4)

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, and the Science Museum’s Head of Collections, Dr Tilly Blyth, begin their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other with Joseph Wright’s painting A Philosopher Giving A Lecture On The Orrery from 1766 and now in the permanent collection at Derby Museum. Wright’s work celebrates the relationship between astronomical science and a religious understanding of the cosmos.

It’s a fitting choice to begin this 20-part series that reveals how the ingenuity of science and technology has been incorporated into artistic expression – and how creative practice, in turn, stimulated innovation and technological change. As Ian Blatchford says; “In Wright of Derby’s painting, science makes a dramatic entry on stage. It’s a new character in the human drama. A modern scientific age is announced with all its novelty, excitement, disruption and above all, the ambiguity of its potential”.

Tilly Blyth reveals that it’s likely that Wright first encountered an orrery when Scottish astronomer James Fergusson visited Derby on a lecture tour in 1762. The orrery was designed to explain God’s creation, not replace it. Fergusson’s mechanical device is one of many types produced to demonstrate the workings of Newton’s universe. It’s a jewel within the Science Museum Group Collection and shows how key ideas about the rationality of the heavens spread far beyond those who first developed them.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph: Christophel Fine Art/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth explore how art and science have inspired each other

How art and science have inspired each other.

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, and the Science Museum’s Head of Collections, Dr Tilly Blyth, begin their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other with Joseph Wright’s painting A Philosopher Giving A Lecture On The Orrery from 1766 and now in the permanent collection at Derby Museum. Wright’s work celebrates the relationship between astronomical science and a religious understanding of the cosmos.

It’s a fitting choice to begin this 20-part series that reveals how the ingenuity of science and technology has been incorporated into artistic expression – and how creative practice, in turn, stimulated innovation and technological change. As Ian Blatchford says; “In Wright of Derby’s painting, science makes a dramatic entry on stage. It’s a new character in the human drama. A modern scientific age is announced with all its novelty, excitement, disruption and above all, the ambiguity of its potential”.

Tilly Blyth reveals that it’s likely that Wright first encountered an orrery when Scottish astronomer James Fergusson visited Derby on a lecture tour in 1762. The orrery was designed to explain God’s creation, not replace it. Fergusson’s mechanical device is one of many types produced to demonstrate the workings of Newton’s universe. It’s a jewel within the Science Museum Group Collection and shows how key ideas about the rationality of the heavens spread far beyond those who first developed them.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph: Christophel Fine Art/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth explore how art and science have inspired each other

How art and science have inspired each other.

Wonder Materials20191014

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, and the Science Museum’s Head of Collections, Dr Tilly Blyth, continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other from the Enlightenment to dark matter.

They focus on a new post-war age of ambivalence in the relationship between art and science through a 1951 parable about the drive for new artificial textiles and the dangers of scientific hubris.

The Ealing comedy the Man in the White Suit presents Britain seeking to relaunch itself as a high tech nation. It stars Alec Guinness as Sidney Stratton, a divisive chemist with the personal aim of making an indestructible synthetic fibre. It’s a potential boon for consumers but would deal a deathblow for the textile industry.

As Tilly reveals, the film reflects the mixed reactions to new synthetic substitutes for silk and cotton. It warns of the dangers of narrow minded scientific hubris, and shows how art can effectively address some of the big challenges we face in developing socially responsible technologies.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph by LMPC via Getty Images

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on industrial change captured in The Man in the White Suit

How art and science have inspired each other.

01The Scientific Sublime20190923

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, and the Science Museum’s Head of Collections, Dr Tilly Blyth, begin their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other with Joseph Wright’s painting A Philosopher Giving A Lecture On The Orrery from 1766 and now in the permanent collection at Derby Museum. Wright’s work celebrates the relationship between astronomical science and a religious understanding of the cosmos.

It’s a fitting choice to begin this 20-part series that reveals how the ingenuity of science and technology has been incorporated into artistic expression – and how creative practice, in turn, stimulated innovation and technological change. As Ian Blatchford says; “In Wright of Derby’s painting, science makes a dramatic entry on stage. It’s a new character in the human drama. A modern scientific age is announced with all its novelty, excitement, disruption and above all, the ambiguity of its potential”.

Tilly Blyth reveals that it’s likely that Wright first encountered an orrery when Scottish astronomer James Fergusson visited Derby on a lecture tour in 1762. The orrery was designed to explain God’s creation, not replace it. Fergusson’s mechanical device is one of many types produced to demonstrate the workings of Newton’s universe. It’s a jewel within the Science Museum Group Collection and shows how key ideas about the rationality of the heavens spread far beyond those who first developed them.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph: Christophel Fine Art/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth explore how art and science have inspired each other

20-part series revealing how art and science have inspired each other.

02Masters Of Spectacle20190924

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other with a focus on the drama captured in Phillipe Jacques de Loutherbourg's painting "Coalbrookdale by Night". Its theatrical portrayal of industry, at the centre of a beautiful Shropshire landscape along the River Severn, came to shape boldly the early conflicted impressions of Britain's Industrial Revolution.

De Loutherbourg drew heavily on his talent for pushing the boundaries of thrilling spectacle. He'd designed sets for impresario David Garrick at Drury Lane, and built his own wholly immersive theatre, the Eidophusikon, that overawed audiences with scenes of infernal landscapes and the supernatural.

Tilly Blyth travels to Shropshire to see the site of the industrial marvels in Coalbrookdale. And in the Science Museum Group Collection she finds a detailed mahogany model by Thomas Gregory of the single arch Iron Bridge. It's testament to the ironmasters' skills at stage managing a heightened emotional response to the forces of nature, and experienced by the many artists and tourists drawn to such new industrial wonders.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph: (c) The Board of Trustees of The Science Museum

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth focus on the drama and upheaval in Coalbrookdale by Night.

20-part series revealing how art and science have inspired each other.

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other with a focus on the drama captured in Phillipe Jacques de Loutherbourg's painting "Coalbrookdale by Night". Its theatrical portrayal of industry, at the centre of a beautiful Shropshire landscape along the River Severn, came to shape boldly the early conflicted impressions of Britain's Industrial Revolution.

De Loutherbourg drew heavily on his talent for pushing the boundaries of thrilling spectacle. He'd designed sets for impresario David Garrick at Drury Lane, and built his own wholly immersive theatre, the Eidophusikon, that overawed audiences with scenes of infernal landscapes and the supernatural.

Tilly Blyth travels to Shropshire to see the site of the industrial marvels in Coalbrookdale. And in the Science Museum Group Collection she finds a detailed mahogany model by Thomas Gregory of the single arch Iron Bridge. It's testament to the ironmasters' skills at stage managing a heightened emotional response to the forces of nature, and experienced by the many artists and tourists drawn to such new industrial wonders.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph: (c) The Board of Trustees of The Science Museum

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth focus on the drama and upheaval in Coalbrookdale by Night.

How art and science have inspired each other.

03Satirizing Science20190925

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other with a focus on James Gillray's biting satire Scientific Researches! (1801) about the new pneumatic chemical experiments on show to fashionable society at the Royal Institution in London.

Tilly Blyth reveals chemist Humphrey Davy's crude airbag is the clue to the success and failure of his famous experiments with laughing gas (nitrous oxide). Its erratic and unexplainable effects went on show to a preening aristocracy at the Royal Institution, but nitrous oxide's huge medical value in suppressing pain was passed over for another 40 years. Davy turned to poetry in an attempt to articulate and make sense of the sensations, in an age when the cultural value of science had still to be earned.

At the Science Museum Ian Blatchford uncovers the coded and explosive references in Gillray's print to this gaseous moment. It had arrived at the same time as the worst excesses of the political revolution in France, and nitrous oxide became a powerful metaphor for the dangers of all kinds of scientific or political experimentation. So was Gillray's prolific pen powerful enough to derail science in this new chemical age?

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph (c) The Board of Trustees of The Science Museum

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on the impact of Gillray's satire in a new chemical age.

20-part series revealing how art and science have inspired each other.

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other with a focus on James Gillray's biting satire Scientific Researches! (1801) about the new pneumatic chemical experiments on show to fashionable society at the Royal Institution in London.

Tilly Blyth reveals chemist Humphrey Davy's crude airbag is the clue to the success and failure of his famous experiments with laughing gas (nitrous oxide). Its erratic and unexplainable effects went on show to a preening aristocracy at the Royal Institution, but nitrous oxide's huge medical value in suppressing pain was passed over for another 40 years. Davy turned to poetry in an attempt to articulate and make sense of the sensations, in an age when the cultural value of science had still to be earned.

At the Science Museum Ian Blatchford uncovers the coded and explosive references in Gillray's print to this gaseous moment. It had arrived at the same time as the worst excesses of the political revolution in France, and nitrous oxide became a powerful metaphor for the dangers of all kinds of scientific or political experimentation. So was Gillray's prolific pen powerful enough to derail science in this new chemical age?

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph (c) The Board of Trustees of The Science Museum

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on the impact of Gillray's satire in a new chemical age.

How art and science have inspired each other.

04Observing The Air20190926

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other, from the Enlightenment to Dark Matter.

They focus on the long tradition by artists and naturalists to capture and define the untamed patterns of clouds in all their short lived states.

Ian and Tilly visit Paddington's Crossrail Station where they look up at clouds most recently interpreted in Spencer Finch’s A Cloud Index (2019), which depicts different types of clouds on a vast glass canopy. It pays homage to the work of the Romantic landscape painters and their time when imaginative and rational inquiry were becoming allies.

Ian reveals that John Constable was one of the first to paint these ethereal assemblages of water vapour with a remarkable understanding of cloud movement and structure as a result of his intense "skying" sessions during the 1820s on Hampstead Heath. Constable believed art could shed certainty on science - and he coincidentally added weight to the new science of meteorology and the work of amateur weather watcher Luke Howard, whose new classification scheme is depicted in sketches and watercolours on loan from the Royal Meteorological Society.

As Tilly Blyth illustrates, Howard's sketches and classifications cleverly captured a sense of endless mutating forms which, despite restricting the imaginative shaping by the influential Romantic intellects, meant an infinite variety of cloud forms could now be grasped by anyone. For Constable, elusive cloud shapes could be captured without any conscious shape-making taking place.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with the Science Museum Group

Photograph by Ashmolean Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on how artists and naturalists depicted and defined clouds

20-part series revealing how art and science have inspired each other.

How art and science have inspired each other.

05Tracking Progress20190927

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other, focussing on the novelty and anxiety of rapid technological change at the height of Britain's railway mania in the 1840s.

No image better evokes the transformative influence of the railways than JMW Turner's 1844 painting Rain, Steam and Speed. It seems to give pride of place to the new Firefly locomotive and its exhilarating speed. But as the railways shaped ideas about modernity, was this steam powered newcomer seen as an exciting harbinger of change or a grim blight on the world?

The Firefly locomotive depicted in Turner's picture no longer exists, but a 1/8th scale working model designed by engineer Daniel Gooch resides in the Science Museum Group Collection. As Tilly Blyth reveals, the social and physical repercussions of Gooch's exquisitely fashioned engine, as it cut though the landscape, were clearly novel for some artists but confusing for many, who called into question the very nature of Victorian pride in progress.

Whilst it's a conflict that's never resolved, Ian concludes that we keep on returning to contemplate Turner's Rain, Steam and Speed - since rather than being a lament, it celebrates the new, without moral judgement. It's left to us, the viewer to weigh up any dilemmas that modernity and change continue to evoke.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph (C) The National Gallery, London

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on rapid progress captured in Turner's Rain Steam & Speed

20-part series revealing how art and science have inspired each other.

No image better evokes the transformative influence of the railways than JMW Turner's 1844 painting Rain, Steam and Speed. The painting, which normally resides at London's National Gallery, seems to give pride of place to the new Firefly locomotive and its exhilarating speed. But as the railways shaped ideas about modernity, was this steam powered newcomer seen as an exciting harbinger of change or a grim blight on the world?

How art and science have inspired each other.

Sir Ian Blatchford and Dr Tilly Blyth continue their series exploring how art and science have inspired each other, focussing on the novelty and anxiety of rapid technological change at the height of Britain's railway mania in the 1840s.

No image better evokes the transformative influence of the railways than JMW Turner's 1844 painting Rain, Steam and Speed. The painting, which normally resides at London's National Gallery, seems to give pride of place to the new Firefly locomotive and its exhilarating speed. But as the railways shaped ideas about modernity, was this steam powered newcomer seen as an exciting harbinger of change or a grim blight on the world?

The Firefly locomotive depicted in Turner's picture no longer exists, but a 1/8th scale working model designed by engineer Daniel Gooch resides in the Science Museum Group Collection. As Tilly Blyth reveals, the social and physical repercussions of Gooch's exquisitely fashioned engine, as it cut though the landscape, were clearly novel for some artists but confusing for many, who called into question the very nature of Victorian pride in progress.

Whilst it's a conflict that's never resolved, Ian concludes that we keep on returning to contemplate Turner's Rain, Steam and Speed - since rather than being a lament, it celebrates the new, without moral judgement. It's left to us, the viewer to weigh up any dilemmas that modernity and change continue to evoke.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Produced in partnership with The Science Museum Group

Photograph (C) The National Gallery, London

Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth on rapid progress captured in Turner's Rain Steam & Speed

How art and science have inspired each other.