I was quoted in a The New York Times story comparing artistic renderings of lightening with actual photographs of the dramatic weather phenomena.

Offering context, I told the Times that the new work fits into a long history of scientists drawing a boundary between artistic and photographic representations of lightning — and an even longer history of scientists and artists pitting their fields against one another. When the discipline of meteorology emerged in the mid-19th century, meteorologists struggled to move public understanding of weather away from superstition and folklore.

“They wanted to replace what they derisively called ‘weather fallacies’ with ‘weather truths’ or ‘facts.'” This was around the same time that the first photographs of lightning were taken, showing the inaccuracy of conventional depictions of lightning.

Read more in The New York Times.


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Jennifer Tucker is a historian who studies the interrelations of art and science, photography, and mass visual culture, with a specialization in 19th to mid-20th century British, U.S., and trans-Pacific history. The common threads in her diverse research fields are the dynamics of visual media in modern history, the nature of evidence, public perceptions and practices of history, and the interrelationships of science, technology, and the law.

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