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Prof Fiona Crisp


Department: Arts

Fiona Crisp’s practice resides at the intersection of photography, sculpture and architecture where the limits and capabilities of both photography and video are explored through the making of large-scale installations. Her past projects have used sites that range from the Early Christian catacombs of Rome to a Dark Matter Laboratory in the UK’s deepest working mine; works from this period formed part of the solo, touring exhibition, Subterrania, that launched at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in 2009. A monograph, Hyper Passive, was published to coincide with the tour and surveyed Crisp’s work from the preceding decade.

Over a number of years Crisp has centred her research on the idea of ‘Negative Capability’ – a phrase first used by the poet John Keats to describe a desirable state of uncertainty and doubt. Keats’ idea is used to pursue the photographic object as an unstable and deeply equivocal phenomenon as evidenced in the installation, NegativeCapability: The Stourhead Cycle for Matt’s Gallery, London in 2012. This exhibition reflected Crisp’s long-term engagement with the visual, political and philosophical ‘construction’ of a view – a position reflected by her inclusion in the 2013 exhibition, Looking at the View, at Tate Britain.

Since this time Crisp has developed the idea of Productive Doubt as a mode of enquiry, particularly within cross-disciplinary spheres. To this end, her recent Leverhulme-funded Fellowship, Material Sight 2016-2018, used non-documentary photography and moving image to interrogate extremes of visual and imaginative representation in fundamental science and technology. Based at three world-leading research facilities - including the Laboratori Nazionale del Gran Sasso, sited inside a mountain in Italy - the research places artistic production in the spaces where experimental and theoretical science is performed, foregrounding the “site” or laboratory as a social, cultural, and political space where meaning is shaped and constructed rather than received or observed.

The exhibition Material Sight launched at the new Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in March 2018 and toured to Arts Catalyst, Centre for Art, Science and Technology, London June-July 2018. To coincide with the exhibitions a book, The Live Creature and Ethereal Things: Physics in Culture was published. Edited by Crisp and curator Nicola Triscott, the book is a collection of texts, images and conversations that present fundamental physics and the physics of the universe as human activities and cultural endeavours.

Crisp is a founder member of the research group The Cultural Negotiation of Science and developed the exhibition and symposium Extraordinary Renditions with colleagues Christine Borland and Chris Dorsett for the British Science Festival in 2013.

Fiona Crisp


Fine Art MA (Hons) June 30 1993

PGR Supervision

  • Blanca Pujals Start: 14/11/2019
  • Louise Mackenzie Evolution of the Subject – Synthetic Biology in Fine Art Practice Start: 07/10/2014

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Material Sight: A Sensorium for Fundamental Physics, Crisp, F. 29 Jan 2020, In: Artnodes
  • Material Sight, Crisp, F. 1 May 2018, The Live Creature and Ethereal Things, London, Arts Catalyst Centre for Art, Science and Technology
  • The Live Creature and Ethereal Things, Crisp, F., Triscott, N. 1 May 2018

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