Ott’s Sneeze

Authors: Norfolk, L. and White, N.

Publisher: Bookworks

Place of Publication: London

‘On January 7 1895, Frederic P Ott stood before the world’s first movie camera and sneezed. But the droplets and globules expelled by Ott were too fast, too small or too many for the primitive camera to record. The sneeze recorded here is the one of the camera did not see’. Commissioned following a call by Bookworks for the New Writing Series edited by Jane Rolo and Michael Bracewell. Co-authored with British author Lawrence Norfolk (acclaimed for his novels of historical fiction - Somerset Maugham Prize for Literature 1992), it followed earlier collaboration into the area of knowledge and genetics (Inheritance Hotel -Wysing Arts Center 1999, I Need to Know, Artlab5, Imperial College, London 2001). The historical artifact of Thomas Edison's film negative, the first piece of copyrighted moving image ever recorded, is at the heart of the concept. The books’ historically referenced fiction, alongside the actual images of a one second sneeze filmed using laser-imaging equipment at Oxford Lasers, and the 42 frames of the original film, are used to explore the development of technology between the chemical and digital imaging technologies, as well as a conceptual engagement with time and its mediation through the form of the book as a work in itself. A reflective account of the making is included in the Afterword.

The data on this page was last updated at 04:48 on May 21, 2018.