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Antoine Prévost-Balga
Doctoral candidate, first cohort (2017-2020)

Objects of High-Speed Photography: Experiments in Slow-Motion

Antoine Prévost-Balga is developing a dissertation on the history and technology of high-speed photography with an emphasis on scientific applications. From the first experiments with spark-light sources made by William Henry Fox Talbot in the early 1850s to the recent development of femto-photography, high-speed photography has involved different techniques and applications in amateur as well as scientific spheres from ballistics to fluid mechanics, from biology to micro-physics. Despite these heterogeneous ensembles and practices, some very specific objects are recurrently used in high-speed photography experiments. Flying birds and insects, bursting bubbles, splashing drops, gunshots and bullets, exploding bombs – these are some of the most fascinating examples. These “epistemic objects” produce new forms of visual knowledge and configure cinematic “experimental cultures” (Rheinberger 1997). By looking at high-speed photography through these objects, the overall goal of the project is to study arrangements and images of non-human temporality (extreme speed, extreme format, extreme vision) as well as the different roles they play in the production of visual knowledge.



Fig. 1: Milk-Drop Coronet Splash (Edgerton, 1936), MIT, Harold Edgerton, 2014, courtesy of Palm Press, Inc.

Fig. 2: Impact of A Water Drop On A Granular Surface, in Runchen Zhao, Qianyun Zhang, Hendro Tjugito and Xiang Cheng: Granular Impact Cratering By Liquid Drops: Understanding Raindrop Imprints Through an Analogy to Asteroid Strikes, in PNAS 112/2 (2015), pp. 342-347.


Antoine Prévost-Balga is a PhD candidate in the Graduiertenkolleg “Configurations of Film” at the Goethe University, Frankfurt. He studied Theater, Film and Media Studies at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle University – Paris 3, the University of Montreal and the Goethe University, Frankfurt. His main research interests are media theory and media archaeology, the history and philosophy of science, and film history and technology. He has worked as an assistant producer and as an administrative assistant manager for film production and distribution companies in Paris. More recently, he worked as coordinator of the 2017 NECS Conference.