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Roberto Trotta The Planck Collaboration

Picturing the Invisible

How can we articulate the invisible, that which is not known, or that which is not provable? A research network and collaboration between University of the Arts London (UAL) and University College London (UCL), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

This project brings together leading academics from a wide range of disciplines including Art & Design, Curatorial Practice, Literature, Forensic Science, Fashion, Medical Science, Psychoanalysis & Psychotherapy, Philosophy, Astrophysics and Architecture with a shared interest in exploring how, in each discipline, we strive to find expression for the invisible or unknown.

As our understanding of the complexity of the world grows incrementally, so our realisation that issues and problems can rarely be resolved within neat demarcations. Therefore, the importance of finding means of communicating across disciplines and fields becomes a priority.

Whilst acknowledging the essential importance of the specialist academic, the capacity to understand other disciplines, their priorities, methodologies and even the language used, can become crucial in being an effective instrument for change.

Key objectives

  • To explore how concepts about the invisible or unknown are expressed within different disciplines, and identify similarities and divergence.
  • To examine the use of language within disciplines and provide a testing ground for cross-disciplinary dialogue.
  • To explore common themes, common approaches and what can be learned from a diverse range of disciplines, experiences, and perspectives in order to address complex challenges and facilitate problem-solving.
  • To explore future research themes for larger projects, identify opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaborations, and encourage risk-taking and blue sky thinking.

The project team

The network is led by Prof. Paul Coldwell, Professor in Fine Art at University of the Arts London (UAL). Coldwell is both an artist and academic with a practice that includes working with museums and collections. The co-investigator is Prof. Ruth Morgan, Professor of Crime and Forensic Science at University College London (UCL) Department of Security and Crime Science, and the Director of the UCL Centre for the Forensic Sciences.

Paul Coldwell

Professor Paul Coldwell

Professor Ruth Morgan

Professor Ruth Morgan

Gabriele Grigorjeva



University of the Arts London

Chelsea College of Arts

16 John Islip Street

London, SW1P 4JU

Follow us on Twitter: @PicturingThe_

Network members

Stephen Doering

Mark Emberton

Adam Gibson

Paul Goodwin

Owen Hopkins

Roger Kneebone

Reina Lewis

Tanja Staehler

Susan Tallman

Irene Tracey

Roberto Trotta


What's on

Paul Coldwell: Picturing the Invisible Exhibition

17 July - 15 September 2019

Sir John Soane’s Museum

Learn more

Picturing the Invisible Conference

7-8 November 2019

Banqueting Hall, Chelsea College of Arts

More info to follow


Find out how to get involved in our project

Deadline extended: 31 May 2019

OPEN CALL: Picturing the Invisible Seminar

8 July 2019

Chelsea College of Arts

A platform for an exchange of ideas concerning how we picture the invisible or the unknown within our respective disciplines.

How to apply?

Current postgraduate students across UAL and UCL are invited to deliver short 10 min. presentations on how the invisible relates to their research and practice.

If you would like to take part, please send a brief abstract of no more than 200 words to


Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more.

This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training, in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe.

Sir John Soane's Museum

The Soane Museum is the extraordinary house of Sir John Soane, one of the greatest English architects, who built and lived in it more than a century and a half ago.

The Museum has been kept as it was at the time of his death nearly 180 years ago. It displays his collection of antiquities, furniture, sculptures, architectural models, paintings – including work by Hogarth, Turner and Canaletto  – and over 30,000 architectural drawings. It’s a vast, extraordinary collection, full of curiosities and surprises.

Visit the Soane Museum

University College London

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