Tuesday 16 April 2019

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.

Related Object

Art at IWM

Three officers stand to the left of the composition beside a pile of ammunition boxes. Each looks in a different direction. One has his back to the viewer and looks out over the scene of the painting. There are marionette-like figures moving over broken ground, amongst the huts and shattered trees. Streams of stylised smoke erupts from incoming shells and spreads across the sky.
Percy Wyndham Lewis, ‘A Battery Shelled’ (1919).
First World War
10 incredible paintings from the Hall of Remembrance series
A remarkable group of paintings was commissioned by the British government towards the end of the First World War as a memorial to the dead. They wanted to permanently display the paintings in a bespoke memorial gallery, known as the Hall of Remembrance, but this ambitious plan was never realised.
A series of figures, with only their heads and shoulders visible, are gathered together at a dockside with a warship recently returned from the Falklands looming over them in the background. There is a coffin covered with a British Union Jack flag amongst them, juxtaposed with the hands of some of the figures making victory signs. In the centre, a soldier and a woman kiss and embrace after being reunited. They are surrounded by the heads of eight other people.
With Singing Hearts and Throaty Roarings, 1983, by Jock McFadyen. © The artist.
Art And Design
8 Powerful Works From Our Contemporary Art Collection
Since the mid 1970s IWM has collected and commissioned contemporary artists' personal, political and conceptual responses to conflict. This has resulted in a diverse and challenging collection of artwork, the highlights of which are brought together in a new book, Art from Contemporary Conflict.
An unnaturally bright sun blazes over a landscape with a river. There is an aircraft flying over the desert in the lower right of the composition.
Art.IWM ART 4623
Art and Design
IWM's exceptional Art collection is one of the most important representations of twentieth century British art in the world

RA 250 and Art Fund logos

This project, with Art Fund support, forms part of RA250 UK: Exhibitions and events around the UK to celebrate 250 years of the Royal Academy of Arts. roy.ac/RA250UK