Early models, measurements and photography in fluid motion studies and its impact on early twentieth century art
Organização:  CFCUL & CIUHCT
Ciências ULisboa
24 / 06 / 2022

The invention of the gelatin silver bromide in 1871 and the introduction of technical advanced cameras and faster lenses allowed the photography of moving objects. This development led to further the basis for the study of fluid mechanics and aerodynamics. The scientific improvement in the study of fluid mechanics was dependent on the development of techniques for flow visualization. It was Leonardo da Vinci who first made experiments under controlled conditions on the movement of wind and water. Early experimental models were constructed at the end of the nineteenth century by several researchers in order to study air and water flow. However, it was the German physicist Ludwig Mach (1868-1951) the first scientist to publish photographs of air flow rendering visible the movement of the air around the vicinity of several objects. When the French physiologist Etienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904) started his studies at the end of the nineteenth century on the flow of air over objects, his last research study on scientific photography, he was not aware of Mach’s experiments. In 1899 he began his experiments in air motion studies, using a vertical wind tunnel filled with smoke. The images he obtained were photographed with a burning magnesium ribbon. A chronographic system measured the speed of each smoke thread in different parts of its course. Henry Hele-Show (1854-1941), a Professor at the Liverpool University, who did in the 1890s experiments in hydrodynamics, also obtained streamline photographs of the flow in liquids. In this paper several early models built to study fluid mechanics, related with measurements and photography, will be discussed as well as the importance of these experiments for the visualization of the invisible movements in fluids. It will also be argued the influence of some of the streamline photographs upon surrealist and futurist artist’s work.

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