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An exhibition on Gabriel Lippmann, the inventor of one of the first methods for color photography, opens today at the Photo Elysée museum in Lausanne and will run until 21 May. The exhibition provides a unique glimpse into Lippmann’s multispectral imaging technique – for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize – by presenting his original color plates in an entirely novel way.

Gabriel Lippmann: Color Photography, opening today in Lausanne, is the culmination of years of collaborative work. It highlights images from the museum’s Gabriel Lippmann collection: 137 of the approximately 250 plates currently in existence worldwide. In designing the exhibition, Photo Elysée worked closely with researchers at LCAV, within EPFL’s School of Computer & Communication Sciences, to come up with an effective method for displaying the plates and the color reproduction technique that earned Lippmann the 1908 Nobel Prize in physics.

Laurence Lippmann, "Portrait of Gabriel LIppmann", 1905-1921-1910. Collections Photo Elysée

Gabriel and/or Laurence Lippmann, "Mont Cervin", 1893-1910. Collections Photo Elysée

Gabriel and/or Laurence Lippmann, "Venise", 1902. Collections Photo Elysée. Jamani Caillet/EPFL

Gabriel and/or Laurence Lippmann, "Bouquet de Pavots d'Orient", 92-1910. Collections Photo Elysée.

The collaboration – which took place in three phases over several years – involved exploring the mechanisms of multispectral imaging. “First, the EPFL researchers helped us better understand Lippmann’s imaging process,” says Pauline Martin, the exhibition curator. “Then they gave us ideas for explaining the process in a way that’d be easy for the general public to understand. And finally, they worked with us to create display cases with an elaborate lighting system that lets visitors view the original images.” Around 20 Lippmann plates are on display, in sizes ranging from 5 cm on a side to around 10 to 13 centimeters on a side. “We’re delighted to be able to share these impressive, captivating images with the public,” says Martin.

The museum also worked with LCAV to build demonstrators for the exhibition, giving visitors an opportunity to delve into the science behind the plates. The demonstrators include a machine that breaks white light down into a rainbow of colors and compares them with reproductions obtained using different photographic methods. Another machine lets visitors run a mechanics experiment with a vibrating cord, where each sound the cord makes corresponds to a given color. Here too, visitors get insight into the nature of Lippmann’s technique.

Visitor Information:

Gabriel Lippmann: Color Photography 
Exhibition Date: 3 March to 21 May
Location: Photo Elysée, Cantonal Museum for Photography, Place de la Gare 17, Lausanne, Switzerland.
For more information, visit https://elysee.ch/en/.

Author: Corinne Feuz
Source: EPFL

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