"In a jump, the subject, in a sudden burst of energy, overcomes gravity. He cannot simultaneously control his expressions, his facial and his limb muscles. The mask falls. The real self becomes visible. One only has to snap it with the camera."   
Philippe Halsman

Rosemary Laing: Flight research #6 1999

Rosemary Laing
Flight research #6 1999
Collection of the National Gallery of Australia
Click image to enlarge

Bouncing on a trampoline, speeding through the air on a skateboard, jumping off the highest platform at the pool, diving out of a plane, bungee-jumping into a ravine: a lot of people enjoy getting off the ground and being free of the everyday world.

Jump! is a show for the young and the young at heart. It reminds adults of childhoods spent running, tumbling and jumping, when everything was experienced with intensity and there was the thrill of discovering things for the first time. There are images of children jumping and animals leaping, and other photographs that make you remember summers spent at the pool.

From the beginnings of photography in the 1840s, photographers aspired to capture movement but only succeeded towards the end of the century when better equipment and faster lenses and plates made it possible to ‘freeze’ figures in action. Images in Jump! have this ‘frozen action’ aplenty and show the shapes bodies make when they are suspended in the air. Other photographs make you wonder about what is going to happen next.

Jump! is drawn from the Gallery’s rich collection of Australian and international photography including both classic black-and-white and colour images from genres as different as photojournalism and conceptual art photography. International photographers include Henri Cartier-Bresson, Harold Edgerton, Philippe Halsman, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Gjon Mili, Eadweard Muybridge, Leni Riefenstahl and Aaron Siskind — all famed for their particular take on jumping figures. The American photojournalist Halsman, who worked for some of the biggest and best picture magazines of the post-war years, became most famous for his pictures of celebrities jumping like kids and even had a theory he called ‘jumpology’. His Jump book is on display in the exhibition. The Australian photographers are all relatively contemporary and include Craig Holmes, Carol Jerrems, Matt Kelso, Martin Munz and Rosemary Laing.

There is also a plasma screen display showing the work of contemporary photographers from the area of extreme sports. Big and little kids visiting Jump! can also play in the ‘jumping booth’ where a flash and light-sensitive panels record your jumping shadow for a tantalising minute or two. Find out what your jumping style says about you.


This is a National Gallery of Australia travelling exhibition that will be touring in 2004/2005.

Jump! Photographers get off the ground
23 August – 2 November 2003
Childrens Gallery