The Impact of Photography
The photographic “truth” Manipulating & questioning the photographic truth, then and now Photography as documentation Fixing identities Documenting the deviant The physical classi? cation of deviance How we read photographs: as particular, real, veridical, “objective” (What’s left out: photography and art) 3 Photography Before
The prettiest Landskip I ever saw was one drawn on the Walls of a dark Room, which stood opposite on one side to a navigable River…. Here you might discover the Waves and Fluctuations of the Water in strong and proper Colours, with a Picture of a Ship entering at one end and sailing by Degrees through the whole Piece. I must confess, the Novelty of such a Sight may be one occasion of its Pleasantness to the Imagination, but certainly the chief reason is its near resemblance to Nature.
Joseph Addision, in the Spectator, 1712, on the camera obscura at Greenwich Greenwich Royal Observatory 5 G. Canaletto, London Greenwich Hospital from the North Bank of the Thames, 1753 Camera obscura at Cliff House, Ocean Beach Photography Before Photographs The camera lucida 6 Photography Before Photographs Lenses and mirrors — an old masters’ “cheat”? 7 Detail from Jan van Eyck’s Arnol? ni portrait, 1434 Creating a permanent image 1725: Johann Heinrich Schulze demonstrates that silver compounds are visibly changed by the action of light; makes stencil impressions on glass, but does not try to capture images from nature. 800: Thomas
Wedgewood makes images on leather impregnated with silver nitrate, but is unable to prevent progressive darkening 1819: Sir John Herschel discovers that sodium hyposul? te (“hypo”) will dissolve silver halides, can be used to “? x” photographic prints. Later invents the words “negative” and “positive” and “photography” Sir John Herschel, photographed by Julia Cameron, 1867 8 The earliest photographs 1826: Nicephore Niepce makes “heliograph” on plate from window in Gras; requires > 8 hr. exposure. From 1829, Niepce collaborates with Louis Daguerre, who announces in 1837 a new “chemical and physical process” which “is ot merely an instrument which serves to draw Nature; it gives her the ability to reproduce herself. ” Daguerreotype permits shorter exposures (but still minutes long); does not permit making multiple images.
The truth of photographs 1839: In truth, the Daguerreotyped plate is in? nitely more accurate in its representation than any painting by human hands. If we examine a work of ordinary art, by means of a powerful microscope, all traces of resemblance to nature will dissapear — but the closest scrutiny of the photographic drawing discloses only a more accurate truth. , a more perfect identity of aspect with the thing represented. E. A. Poe 12 The truth of photographs While we give [sunlight]credit only for depicting he merest surface, it actually brings out the secret character with a truth that no painter would ever venture upon, even if he could detect it.
The Daguerrotypist Holgrave, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of Seven Gables, 1851 What he [the camera] saw was faithfully reported, exact, and without blemish. Am. Photgrapher James F. Ryder in 1902, recalling his ? rst camera from the 1850’s [A photograph] cannot be disputed—it carries with itevidence which God himself gives through the unerring light of the world’s greatest luminary. . . . it will tell its own story, and the sun to testify to its ruth. . . Cal. Newspaper, 1851 13 The capture of motion Art for the purpose of representation does not require to give the eye more than the eye can see, and when Mr. Sturgess gives us a picture of a close ? nish for the Gold Cup, we do not want Mr. Muybridge to tell us that no horses ever strode in the fashion shown in the picture. It may indeed be fairly contended that the correct position (according to science) is the incorrect position (according to art). London Daily Globe 14 Eadward Muybridge, Galloping Horse, 1878 Richard Caton Woodville, “Charge of the Light Brigade, 1856 (image reversed)
The photograph as a model for journalistic objectivity The news as “A daily photograph of the day’s events. ” (Charles Dana) The New York Herald is now the representative of American manners,of American thought. It is the daily daguerreotype of the heart and soul of the model republic. It delineates with faithfulness the American character in all its rapid changes and ever varying hues. London Times, 1848 15 The brief, happy reign of the Daguerreotype By 1840’s, improved lens and increased senstivity of plates reduce exposure time for portraits. Daguerreotype becomes “the mirror with a memory” (Oliver Wendell
Holmes) 16 The brief, happy reign of the Daguerreotype In Daguerrotype, we beat the world. Horace Greeley The photograph as a record of personal existence, family continuity Connection to the “postal age” The photograph as an instrument of fame 1854: Phineas Barnum stages ? rst modern beauty pageant, using Daguerrotypes for judging 17 “General” Tom Thumb Sarah Bernhardt, by Nadar Second Thoughts Charles Baudelaire 18 During this lamentable period, a new industry arose which contributed not a little to con? rm stupidity in its faith and to ruin whatever might remain of the divine in the French mind. The dolatrous mob demanded an ideal worthy of itself and appropriate to its nature. In matters of painting and sculpture, the present-day Credo of the sophisticated, above all in France is this: “I believe that Art is, and cannot be other than, the exact reproduction of Nature. Thus an industry that could give us a result identical to Nature would be the absolute of Art. ”
A revengeful God has given ear to the prayers of this multitude. Daguerre was his Messiah. … From that moment our squalid society rushed, Narcissus to a man, to gaze at its trivial image on a scrap of metal. Photos for the millions 884 George Eastman invents paper roll ? lm; 1888 introduces Kodak camera 1900 introduces Brownie camera for $1 19 Pictorialism: An Aesthetes’ Reaction to Popular Photography? Robert Demachy, “Behind the Scenes,” 1905 Gum print Steiglitz, The Flatiron Building, 1902 20 My picture, ‘Fifth Avenue, Winter’ is the result of a three hours’ stand during a ? erce snow-storm on February 22nd 1893, awaiting the proper moment. My patience was duly rewarded. Of course, the result contained an element of chance, as I might have stood there for hours without succeeding in getting the desired pictures.