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Invisible Light: Virtual Exhibition

Resource for Leaving Certs

Key Facts

Who are the artists?
Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly are Irish artists, who are also husband and wife. They are interested in the art and science of looking and they call themselves the School of Looking. See

When was the exhibition? 
October - November 2020

What does the title Invisible Light mean? 
Scientists have discovered many forms of invisible light, these forms of light make up the electromagnetic spectrum. For instance, infrared light (‘heat radiation’) cannot be seen by people, but it can be seen by snakes. Ultraviolet light (which can cause sunburn) is invisible to us, but not to bees. 

So what was the exhibition about? 
The short answer is art and science; the electromagnetic spectrum.

The artists worked to imaginatively explore the electromagnetic spectrum, they wanted to bring art and science together to create artworks. They are self-described ‘science nerds'.

The exhibition Invisible Light presented 8 artworks which each investigated a different form of invisible light, from the mysterious gamma ray to the familiar radio wave. The artists collaborated with scientist researchers in the Tyndall Institute University College Cork to create the artwork. The exhibition was funded by the Science Foundation of Ireland, because they are interested in different ways that people can learn more about science apart from textbooks and they are keen to promote science to a wide audience.

School of Looking artists using an infrared camera for their artwork called Sense of Heat.
School of Looking artists using an infrared camera for their artwork called Sense of Heat.

How did Covid 19 restrictions affect the exhibition? 
Audience participation is very important to the School of Looking artists and much of their artwork is designed to be interactive. For example, one of the artworks in the exhibition called a Sense of Heat used an infrared camera and only worked when people stood directly in front of the camera so that their own infrared image was projected on a screen. 

New rules around social distance and sanitising meant that the artists had to modify the artwork displayed. The artists had planned for an exhibition space that echoed a workshop or laboratory, so that people could test, touch and experiment with forms of invisible light and ways of seeing within the gallery space. 

What is a virtual exhibition?
An exhibition that you can explore on screen using a computer or phone over the internet, but not physically visiting a gallery.

Denis Connolly giving a virtual exhibition tour to a school group.
Denis Connolly giving a virtual exhibition tour to a school group.

How was the gallery exhibition Invisible Light made virtual?

  • The artists used a laptop and camera to give live tours of the exhibition through an online platform called Zoom. We called these virtual visits and they were offered free of charge to schools and groups. 

  • A filmed tour of the exhibition available on the gallery website and YouTube.

  • A brochure available online illustrating the artworks and describing the science. 

  • 7 Ray Days, these were free public talks for an adult audience live through zoom. Each talk was dedicated to a different form of Invisible Light featuring the artists chatting with a scientist researcher. People could ask questions and give feedback through a live chat function. The talks were filmed and are available on the gallery website.

  • The artists produced a series of videos exploring the different forms of Invisible Light from the exhibition.

You can find a plan of the exhibition space here.

More to think about!

  • Do you think it is important to go to a gallery physically to see artworks in person? Why?

  • What are the advantages of virtual or online exhibitions?

  • Do we need galleries to be physical buildings anymore?

  • Do you think the School of Looking were successful in creatively exploring forms of invisible light? How?

  • Do you find their work exciting, confusing, educational? Why?

  • Do art and science go together? Do you need to understand the electromagnetic spectrum / science to enjoy the artwork?

  • The International Museum of Women is an online-only museum that does not have a physical building and instead offers online exhibitions, can you find an online or virtual exhibition that really appeals to you? 


We are keen to support teachers and students, if you have a specific question about an exhibition please feel free to contact us.

(0)21 490 7857

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Emmett Place, Cork, Ireland
T12 TNE6
Tel: 021 480 5042

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