THE SAGA OF INVENTIONS
FROM THE GAS MASK TO THE WASHING MACHINE
CURATED BY LUCE LEBART
Thousands of photographs and films were produced in France between 1915 and 1938 as part of a national policy to encourage scientific and industrial research. These little known images constitute the visual records of twenty years of research and inventions, first anchored in war and national defense, and later in civil and domestic life. These analogue archives outline a history of innovation. This story is at the junction of science, technology, industry and design. These archives narrate a tale under construction of the institutionalization of research. From the beginning, a systematic archive policy was implemented. The institution massively produced these administrative images. Their visual rigor is striking. Behind these images, lays the visionaries and pioneers who used and played with the still and animated image, mastering their demonstrative, archival, educational, and communicational powers.
Image: National Scientific and Industrial Research and Inventions Office, Georges Mabboux’s acoustic horns to locate aircraft, May 31, 1935. CNRS collection, A_3264.
National Scientific and Industrial Research and Inventions Office, Louis Lapicque’s visual field shutter goggles, December 1926. CNRS collection, B_6127.
Inventions Department, theater of photographs, ca. 1916-1920. National Archives collection (France), 398ap061 “1125”.
National Scientific and Industrial Research and Inventions Office, montage of photos of household appliances by Jules-Louis Breton, December 4, 1923. CNRS collection, B_4912.
Born 1970, Asnières-sur-Seine, France.
Lives and works in Paris, France and London, United Kingdom.
Luce Lebart is a historian of photography, curator and French correspondent for the Archive of Modern Conflict collection. She directed the Canadian Institute of Photography (2016-2018) and the collections of the Société française de photographie (2011-2016). Her research focuses on archival photography, the history of techniques, scientific and documentary practices relative to image. She was the curator of (among others): “Souvenirs du sphinx“ and “Lady Liberty“ at the Rencontres d’Arles; “Illuminations“ (Foto/Industria, Bologna) ; “Frontera“ (National Gallery of Canada) and “Gold and Silver“ (MBAC and FOAM Amsterdam, 2018). She has published several books, including Les grands photographes du XXe siècle (Larousse, 2017).
Portrait of Luce Lebart © Alexandra Catière