IWM is taking part in an ongoing nationwide programme of in-conversations, exhibitions and events with Art Fund support to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) in 2018.
Jane and Louise Wilson RA, artist duo and Royal Academicians, discuss how a German First World War aerial camera from IWM’s collection provided inspiration for their award-winning video installation, Undead Sun.
Exploring military control of airspace that first occurred as a First World War phenomenon, Undead Sun integrates visual archival sources with reconstructed elements filmed at locations such as a Farnborough wind-tunnel. Undead Sun was commissioned for IWM in 2014.
The First World War brought with it technological advancements in camera optics and aerial reconnaissance, and the countermeasures of camouflage and subterfuge. The Wilsons discuss visibility and technology, and the historical tactics used to deceive aircraft.
The aerial camera, found in the IWM collection, was included in Undead Sun. Its surprising design – hand held and shaped like a gun with a trigger system – allow the Wilsons to consider the camera as a weapon. They emphasise that the cutting-edge machines of the First World War were the precursor to modern surveillance and drone technologies.