The scallop’s gaze: visual culture in the aquarium

Jul 01, 2020, 01:06 AM
Art historian Dr Ann Elias came across the haunting image of a scallop in an aquarium while researching ocean histories and early 20th century underwater photography. Captured by the camera while opening its valves, the scallop almost appears to be grinning at us. Dr Elias was immediately reminded of the work of artist Odilon Redon, who created hybrid human and non-human creatures in his paintings and drawings. The gaze of the scallop also captured the attentions of philosopher Henri Bergson and University of Sydney marine biologist William John Dakin, who proposed contradictory theories about the similarities of scallop eyes and human eyes. Science, philosophy, art and dreams are all on the table in this deep dive into an underwater lantern slide.
Guest: Associate Professor Dr Ann Elias is Chair of the Department of Art History at the University of Sydney and researcher with the Sydney Environment Institute.

Host: Dr Craig Barker, Manager of Education and Public Programs, Chau Chak Wing Museum and Director, Paphos Theatre Archaeological Excavations. Follow @DrCraig_B on Twitter and Instagram.

Collection item details: 'Mollusca - Pecten', Zoology Department Lantern Slide Collection, c. 1909-10. Photograph by Francis Ward.
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