Friday, April 20, 2018
Sponsored by RIT Libraries
“Winslow Homer and the Camera: Photography and the Art of Painting”
Frank H. Goodyear, Bowdoin College Museum of Art
How did photography’s introduction impact the art of painting in nineteenth-century America? This paper explores Winslow Homer’s relationship with photography and its impact on his artistic practice. Like the majority of painters of the late nineteenth century, Homer never spoke directly about photography, nor did he ever exhibit such images in any formal manner. Yet, during his lifetime he owned at least three cameras that he used at Prout’s Neck and during his travels beyond Maine. He also collected photographs by other photographers and posed occasionally for his portrait both outdoors and in photographers’ studios. As one attuned to appearances and constantly experimenting with how to represent them, Homer understood that photography as a new technology of sight had much to reveal. Though he privileged his own vision and saw painting as the most compelling means to figure the world, he grew to learn that photography—despite its limitations and problematic reputation in the world of the fine arts—was a medium that did not undermine, but instead complemented his larger artistic interests. To date, Homer’s interest in photography has not been considered in any comprehensive manner. A major exhibition to open in June 2018 at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art will bring together 120 works in all mediums and will demonstrate that photography shaped Homer’s practice from his earliest days as a commercial illustrator to his final years in Prout’s Neck. This project promises to reset our understanding of Homer’s artistic career, will shed new light on the relationship between painting, print-making, drawing, and photography in art of the late nineteenth century, and will suggest new clues for thinking about the emergence of modernism in American art.
“Photography and Sculpture: The Materiality of Art and the Archival Photograph”
Michelle Foa, Tulane University
When Edgar Degas died exactly 100 years ago, his studio contained a trove of remarkable, little-known wax sculptures that the artist had produced over the last thirty or so years of his long career. Half of these sculptures were cast in bronze within a few years of the artist’s death, and it is these bronzes that today are found in museums around the world. But a little-studied set of photographs of the waxes that were taken just a few short months after Degas died offers us a richer and clearer understanding of his sculptural practice and sheds crucial light on certain important but overlooked transformations that these works underwent before they were cast. My proposed paper will focus on these invaluable photographs and will draw out the numerous insights they offer into how the wax sculptures looked when they were found in the artist’s studio. Close scrutiny of these archival photographs, then, transforms our understanding of the relationship between original and copy, wax and bronze, in the artist’s oeuvre in ways that have thus far been ignored by scholars. These photographic images, I’ll argue, also offer important insights into the materiality and construction of Degas’s wax sculptures, with the two-dimensional images giving us access to aspects of Degas’s studio practice and the physical particularities of his waxes in ways that the three-dimensional bronzes cannot. In sum, Degas’s sculptural work is only fully understood when considered in the context of these largely overlooked photographic records. The centenary of the artist’s death in 1917 and the subsequent dispersal of the contents of his studio give scholars a valuable opportunity to re-examine this crucial moment in the history of the artist’s body of work and to recognize these archival photographs as windows into that pivotal moment. My paper will thus use these photographs as case studies for exploring the fascinating relationship between photography and sculpture, the important place of archival photographs in the history of art, and the power of archival photographs to help us discover the material transformations that countless art works undergo over the course of the lives.
“Constructed Realities: Claude Cahun’s Created World in Aveux non Avenus”
Erin Pustarfi, University of Arizona, Tucson
In her 1930 publication, Aveux non Avenus (or commonly translated to Disavowals), Claude Cahun uses the relationship between her inwardly focused poetic writing and symbolic photomontages to construct a unique reality for her unique self-expression. This paper focuses on three chapters selected from the publication and respective photographic images to relate Cahun’s, and by association her partner Marcel Moore’s, discussion on sexuality and gender expression. The utopian dreamscape that is created investigates issues of narcissism and otherness, female homosexuality, dandyism and going beyond the gender binary, individual and social critique, mocks the antiquated views of art and writing, accepting and breaking of taboos, all while allowing for other departures from the accepted norm. Using the text-image relationship present in Cahun’s publication it is apparent that one informs the other allowing for a better understanding of the Symbolist, Surrealist, and psychological influences. Through analysis of the publication and supporting evidence from early influences it can be seen that Cahun is creating a world in Aveux non Avenus, a reality of her own design where she can exist in a between the established feminine-masculine binary of twentieth century Europe.
“Decoding: A Guide to Kodak Paper Surface Characteristics”
Erin Fisher, University of Rochester
From 1880 to 2005, the Eastman Kodak Company manufactured black and white fiber-based gelatin silver paper in a wide variety of weights, grades and formats. Kodak manufacturer records and sample books include details about Kodak paper surface characteristics, and are an invaluable resource for understanding photographic paper materials. I have created a guide that will provide an organized understanding of the information included in the data books and manuals in order to better understand Kodak fiber-based paper surface characteristics for researchers and conservators.
Using the extensive number of Kodak data books, manuals, and manufacturing records spread out in the collections of The George Eastman Museum, The University of Rochester Special Collections, and The Image Permanence Institute, I created a chronological guide to Kodak photographic paper surface characteristics. This guide is not an approximate identification guide for Kodak papers, but a resource that can be used to fill in gaps and propose questions about Kodak manufacturing history that is no longer easily accessible. This project will help researchers, photography archivists, conservators, or anyone else interested in Kodak history, gain access to a better understanding of photographic paper produced by Kodak from 1930-1955.
“’Who is Serving Who?’ A Media Critical Analysis of the Camera Manual Since 1888”
Dorothee Elisa Baumann, University of Berne, Switzerland
The focus of this research project is the camera manual. The practice of photography changed dramatically since the democratization of photography linked to the invention of the Kodak No.11 invented in 1888. Photography became more and more a progressive practice and the camera itself evolved into a picture production machine. First, by the use of the discourse- and dispositif analysis, I examine the most important camera manuals throughout the history, which fundamentally influenced the practice of photography. I attempt to analyze the hybrid balance of power between the camera, the manual and the user by the means of the actor-network theory. A manual transmits instructions with the help of images and text, which represent “incorporate“ scripts and in turn continues to be present in the modus operandi. How do these technical applications impact socially, economically and culturally the practice of photography? The camera manual, the user and the camera are brought together in the act of photography - habitus and gestures become only visible in action. Therefore, I will test in a second phase the manuals (scripts) through the means of performance ethnography and will perform the instructions of the camera manuals through reenactment strategies. 1) First compact Kodak camera invented by George Eastman in 1888. The Kodak box was designed to be operated by amateur photographers without technical knowledge. Eastwood Kodak implemented this camera international in Europe and the US.
“Chemical Spectacles: An Aniconic History of Photography”
Michelle Smiley, Bryn Mawr College
When, where, and through whom does photography emerge? This paper de-centers the origin story of photography from Europe to include the United States where, before Daguerre’s 1839 announcement, chemists were working on key scientific experiments that spurred the rapid development of the medium. In the early nineteenth century, the chemical laboratory was both a site of scientific inquiry and spectacular performance. In 1820s Philadelphia, local instrument-maker and scientist Robert Hare conducted chemical demonstrations that produced dazzling clouds of colored smoke, sparks of light, and rolling flames that, by one account, surpassed the audience’s powers of vision. These experiments were one example of a growing interest in the nature of light among a transatlantic network of scientists that led to the knowledge necessary to fix the images of the camera obscura. When looking at the scientific laboratory as a space of proto-photographic experimentation, one finds at the origins of this inescapably representational medium a profound formlessness, in which the thing that photography “points to” is not a represented subject but light itself. By expanding and even exceeding the thresholds of vision, these investigations into the nature of the imponderables – light, heat, and electricity – expand the terms by which we define the “photographic.” Whereas typical prehistories of the medium focus on the “dry” or “mechanical” side of photography – including the camera, shutters, and lenses needed to project an image – I propose an alternative, “wet” or aniconic prehistory, one that is rooted in chemical change as opposed to mechanical fixity.
“Keystone View Company and the Need for a Business History of Photography”
Leigh Gleason, University of California, Riverside
Stereoscopy has been embraced by scholars because of stereographs’ widespread distribution which position it as a mass-media object. Large-scale direct-selling distribution networks placed stereographs in countless American homes and schools, making the images objects of mass-culture, and ripe for assessment through an art historical or media studies lens. Indeed, most of the scholarship that utilizes stereography focuses on the content and cultural meanings of stereoscopic images.
These approaches neglect the business at the root of these images’ cultural infiltration. This paper will examine the business practices of the Keystone View Company, a prominent American stereograph publisher active between 1892 and 1963, as a means to discuss what is gained by considering the business, rather than just the image content. Keystone was among the first American ‘big businesses’ that created and sold photographs. By approaching the industry differently than other photographic businesses, Keystone grew a much larger audience than what was otherwise typical for a photographic studio. Examining Keystone as a business brings these concepts to light and demonstrates how these arguments convey essential context and meaning to ways in which other scholars have approached Keystone and stereography, which in turn shows the need for increased application of business histories into photographic history studies.
“Mechanical Reproduction: Photography and Commercial Printing in Chicago 1900-1940”
Ellen Handy, City College of New York
The 20th century was not merely the age of mechanical reproduction but also of image distribution, exchange and consumption, practices whose pervasiveness shaped modern visual culture. The vast material output of photography mediated through the printing press is neglected by art historians, despite Walter Benjamin’s celebrated theorization of “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” In North America, the mid-West was the primary locus of mass production and consumption of printed images. Chicago’s industrial capabilities, geographical position near the center of the continent, and excellent transportation connections made it the center of a distribution network for printed matter. The Curt Teich Company’s production of several million photographic postcards and the RR Donnelley & Son’s printing of millions of copies of Life magazine at Chicago plants provide case studies of modern photomechanical reproduction as industry, archive and medium.
Hard at work manufacturing images of all the world as postcards, as well as printing photo-essays edited from New York in a magazine expressing a quintessentially American view of the world, Chicago became a center for reproducing and disseminating experiences of other places. How were the image reproduction products of Chicago different from the printed text production of New York or the moving pictures produced by the dream factories of Hollywood? What roles do these innumerable photographs in mechanical reproduction play in the formation of collective memory or search for usable past? How do they relate to the present day’s continual churning of digital images? These modest printed artifacts raise large questions, but also are objects of interest in themselves.
“The Ugly Truth About the Beautiful Photogravure: Most Aren’t”
Julie Mellby, Princeton University
In 1913, the celebrated photographer and printer Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882-1966) prepared what was to become his seminal book, Men of Mark, containing 33 tipped-in photogravure portraits. Each print was hand-inked and hand-wiped from an individual aquatinted copperplate resulting in a deep, rich continuous tone image.
In 1922, together with his original publisher Duckworth and Company, Coburn released More Men of Mark, containing 33 collotype portraits. In his Autobiography, Coburn wrote, “it is only necessary to compare the two Men of Mark volumes to see the difference.” However, a quick check of the WorldCat bibliographic database (also known as OCLC) confirms that the second volume continues to be described, sold, and collected as a collection of photogravures.
The commercial truth is that no self-respecting publisher would acknowledge or promote a book of rotogravure prints. Throughout the twentieth century, publishers, collectors, curators, and librarians have either intentionally substituted or inadvertently described all manner of machine-printed rotogravures and other photomechanical prints as the luxurious, limited edition (and more expensive) photogravure. Many publishers went so far as to emboss pages with a false plate mark to disguise the use of the cheaper prints.
This paper would investigate the development of the photogravure from its golden age in the late 19th century, the progress and variety of mass-produced variations in the 20th century and finally, the reemergence of classily-produced photogravures by contemporary photographers.
“Roman Vishniac: Documentarian, Scientist, Artist”
Norm Barker, Johns Hopkins University and Howard J. Radzyner, Radzyner et al., LLC
This is the story about one of the leading scientific photographers of the 20th century who is much better known as a very accomplished social documentary photographer. Roman Vishniac is best known for his documentation of Eastern European Jewish life before the Holocaust. He was active as a photographer/ filmmaker for over sixty-years. His earliest work in the field of scientific photography dates back, at least, to the early 1930s, pre-dating his important documentary work. Vishniac always had an intellectual curiosity about the natural world, and he used photography throughout his decades-long professional career for scientific exploration as well as communicating scientific knowledge. Today he is widely recognized as a pioneer in the field of photomicrography and in the production of motion pictures of microscopic life. Vishniac’s ability to capture and create images — almost exclusively of living subjects — was sought after by scientific researchers, popular magazines, movie producers, news organizations and commercial entities. From the 1940s through the 1960s Vishniac’s work regularly appeared in major magazines including Life, Sports Illustrated and Boy’s Life. In the early 1960s Vishniac received funding from the National Science Foundation to produce a series of movies titled the Living Biology Film Series, which were used as educational programs in secondary and college biology classes throughout the US. His long, interesting, and sometimes controversial adventures will be discussed.
"Gone in a Flash: The Camera as a Tool for Making Graffiti”
H.C. Arnold, Riverside Community College District
Graffiti is an ephemeral aesthetic. Regularly painted over or buffed away, it can disappear as quickly as it appeared. The camera has long served as a way to arrest this outcome by documenting the work and allowing for it to be disseminated to a broad audience. However, little study is given to how the camera can display graffiti’s transient nature and if such an illustration can be exploited for creative ends. My paper examines the recent phenomenon of graffitists who use the camera in these ways. Specifically, I look at Alexandre Órion’s Metabiotica photography that combines his imagery with pedestrians. Proving Eleanor Antin’s claim that “all description is a form of creation,” Órion exploits the agency documentation has over the genre. Often comical, the final pieces reveal a dependency of the graffiti on the pedestrians wherein the latter completes the imagery of the former. Building from this premise, I connect Órion’s photography with scholars including Sontag, Blanchot, and Jean-Luc Nancy. Using their theories that examine how the camera creates “a thin slice of space as well as time” while delineating the roles of the photographer, the subject matter, and the viewer, I argue that through prioritizing the act of encountering graffiti, Órion reveals the temporality of the genre by capturing the fleeting moment that the imagery is completed by the pedestrian. Further, I contend that it cannot be forgotten that the pedestrian is fleeting also. As such, Órion reminds us that just as graffiti vanished over time, so do we.
Jeff Thompson, Stevens Institute of Technology and Angeles Cossio, St. John’s University
While our traditional photographic experience tends towards the individual image, the internet and machine learning technologies allow for photographic data to be experienced as massive wholes. Google’s image search functions let us surf by visual and semantic data extracted from millions of photographs. Object identification, feature recognition, sentiment analysis, and other tools automatically extract additional information, and allow these archives to be experienced in new ways. This paper focuses on the roles these new technologies can play in curatorial practice and photographic viewership, through the lens of our project Empty Apartments, an online exhibition of 125,000 images of apartments automatically scraped from the website Craigslist. Archives of this magnitude, and the possibility new tools bring for experiencing them in a non-linear way, amplify Foucault’s idea that curatorial ideas emerge from creating a “constellation condition.” Empty Apartments is presented as an infinite-seeming mass of images, sorted by visual similarity, and from this a vernacular American rental architecture emerges, as does the hand (and lack thereof) of the anonymous landlord-photographer. The familiar and strange are seen in equal measure: repeating patterns of glowing windows in under-lit rooms, the same kitchen setups over and over, blurry shots of wood floors, and HDR images of fancy apartment complexes.
“Are You Sure? What We Learn by Examining Photographs of the Empire of American Science”
Ronald E. Doel, Florida State University, and Pamela M. Henson, Smithsonian Institution
Photographs of scientists, and scientific activity, are rarely utilized by historians of science to interpret the past. When they are, they often serve as potted plants, illustrating arguments derived from traditional written sources—even though photographs sometimes challenge such historical narratives. Historians of photography have similarly overlooked photographs depicting scientific work: for instance, no major works addressing Roy Stryker’s famous FSA/OWI images call attention to photographs of scientists in their files, including Arthur Rothstein’s “Chemistry Student” and Jack Delano’s “A Class in Chemistry: In the Lecture Room of the Chemistry Building.”
Fresh insights emerge when we explore the history of American science through photographs. We see women more active in field work at the turn of the twentieth century than historical narratives suggest. Female students helped excavate dinosaur bones in Wyoming, and Mary Vaux, spouse of Smithsonian Secretary Charles Walcott, fully shared in his extensive paleontological expeditions. Shutterbug photographers—professional scientists active in Camera Clubs—used images to recruit expedition volunteers and illustrate private commercial ventures. Rothstein’s black chemistry student was featured prominently in a famous Office of War Information pamphlet Negroes and the War, infuriating Southern politicians.
For a book in progress, we explore both public (published) and private photographs of scientists and scientific activities in the U.S. We surveyed dozens of collections and print archives, and carefully analyzed large newspaper photograph morgues to see how editors, working as gatekeepers, sought to craft particular images of American science. At this conference, we propose to share highlights of our work.
“Monochromatic Cadavers: Cyanotype Dissection Photographs and the Birth of Amateur Photography at The Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania”
Brandon Zimmerman, Drexel University College of Medicine
This presentation focuses on research conducted while the 2016 M. Louise Gloeckner, M.D., Summer Research Fellow, at The Legacy Center: Archives and Special Collections on Women in Medicine and Homeopathy, Drexel University College of Medicine, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It will cover several major discoveries associated with newly revealed collections of cyanotype dissection photographs – images of medical students posed with their cadavers – taken in the late 1890s, with a Kodak No. 2 camera, by students at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP), the nation’s first all-female, degree-granting medical school.
During the later half of the nineteenth century, a time when women were discriminated against from joining the medical profession, even physically attacked for attending clinical lectures at hospitals, students at the WMCP purchased cameras, darkroom supplies, and printing papers to visually document their individual and collective journeys throughout medical school; especially – their time in the dissecting room. Today, the surviving photographic collections exist primarily as cyanotype prints. They are significant for three main reasons: 1.) They represent some of the oldest known dissection photographs of all-female dissecting groups in the country; 2.) They are the largest known cache of cyanotype dissection photographs (an uncommonly utilized photographic process within the genre); 3.) Most significantly, they are currently the only dissection photographs taken with a Kodak No. 2 camera known at this time. As such, they serve as vital pieces in the construction of a larger chronological history of the genre’s evolution, from its origins in the 1880s, to its demise in the early 1950s.
“The Image in Science”
Michael Peres, Rochester Institute of Technology
When historians chronicle the history of science from this era, it will be described as the “Age of the Image” because every aspect of science now includes imaging. Every publication and areas of research are heavily invested in images and imaging. There is however nothing new about using images in science. Science adopted photography as soon as the technology and materials needed to make images permanent was discovered. What is absolutely new is how people now create, use, and distribute images.
Atkins, a British botanist and photographer is considered by some to be the first to publish a book dedicated exclusively using science pictures to convey science data rather than the traditional drawings – the norm of the time. Images made in the mid 1800’s were singular pieces, because there was no simple way to make multiple copies. Each image was an original that could be duplicated and so the integration or distribution of images to audiences was challenging. Today, I am amazed how images can be shared electronically to worldwide audiences nearly synchronously with their making.
This paper will look at some of scientific photography’s interesting past, assess its current place, and ponder what might be coming next. Photography and imaging are playing increasingly new roles in science and in society in general. it goes without saying that smartphones have become the most frequent type of camera used today and are being used to document surgery for example or used on microscopes.
“Daguerre’s Legacy: Bon chance ou bon genie?”
Mike Robinson, Century Darkroom, Toronto, Canada
This talk retraces Daguerre’s pathway of discovery and innovation described in historical accounts, and combines this historical research with artisanal, tacit, and causal knowledge gained through replicative practice to shed new light on the history of the Daguerre’s photographic research.
The daguerreotype process has a unique material story about its creation. Clues from the historical record have been re-examined and replicated to understand and illustrate fifteen years of Daguerre’s scientific work from 1829 to 1844. This lecture offers fresh insight into Daguerre’s involvement with the materiality of the silver plate, iodine sensitizing, and plate acceleration, and optics.
“Did Talbot Make Daguerreotypes?”
Grant Romer, Academy of Archaic Imaging, Rochester, NY
An abundance of original material has been preserved documenting the life and work of William Henry Fox Talbot, long difficult to access, being held in widely separated institutions and private collections, it has been generally used to make the case for Talbot’s supremacy as being the “inventor of photography” and the ‘world’s first photographer,’ in opposition to Daguerre, Niepce…
Through internet resources, it is now possible to consult much of this material. A recent search revealed no extant example of a daguerreotype made by Talbot, nor direct reference by him or others, to his having done so. In a recent scholarly publication on the beginnings of Photography, it is stated that “Talbot… was not interested in the daguerreotype.”
There, however, is much evidence that Talbot was very interested in the daguerreotype and that practical experience with the process had great influence on the direction of his photographic efforts.
This evidence will be presented, much of it based upon practical re-creation of some of Talbot’s experiments indicate in his notebooks for the years 1839 to 1840. Further, the case will be made for opening a new inquiry into early photography, informed by practical experience with the tools, materials and process of the era.
“Printing Daguerreotypes: A Technical Examination of Joseph Berres’s ‘Phototyp’ (1840)”
Martin Jürgens, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Lenia Fernandes, Nederlands Fotomuseum, and Ioannis Vasallos, National Library of Scotland
If you compare the beginnings of photography with today’s imaging technology, you may not encounter many similarities. However, a careful look will reveal that photographic practice seems to have completed a full circle. The daguerreotype of the 1840s has much more in common with today’s cell phone image than any other photographic process invented during the last 175 years:
- Both can hold an image of someone dear to you, and the protective housing is small enough to carry close to you, in a bag or a pocket.
- Both images are crystal clear and extremely sharp and are safeguarded behind a sheet of glass.
- Viewing the image can be either rewarding or disappointing, depending on the ambient light and whether or not there are distracting reflections on the glossy surfaces.
- Finally, neither technique is used for printing images on paper, a circumstance that sets the daguerreotype and the cell phone apart from almost every other process used in the meantime.
However, in photography nothing is ever that simple: immediately after the daguerreotype was announced, methods were devised for printing them. The Austrian Dr Joseph Berres was one of the first to etch daguerreotypes and pull intaglio prints from them. This talk will present a technical study of Berres’s work as well as the results of a recreation of his process at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. In doing so, it will contextualize early attempts to print daguerreotypes within the chronology of photographic processes until the present day.
An overview of two artists’ practice-based research into the historical photographic process of copper-plate photogravure and demonstration of the medium’s ongoing relevance to contemporary art practice.
This joint presentation will provide an overview of two artists’ practice-based research into the historical photographic process of copper-plate photogravure and demonstrate the medium’s ongoing relevance to contemporary art practice. They will focus on its use in building their print suites and artists’ books. A brief history of the photogravure process and survey of key historical artists that have used photogravure for its qualities will be followed by an illustrated explanation of the process itself. MacCallum and Morrish will then discuss their own unique motivations for using photogravure and how the specific characteristics of the medium have affected the development of their work. MacCallum, a print artist, and Morrish, a photo-based artist, have found their methodologies converging in the hybrid nature of photogravure. As a print media, it facilitates the integration of multiple print forms and emphasizes the materiality of both image and process. Individual bodies of work will be presented, uncovering the impact of the medium on content and imagery and tracing how each stage of the process offers new potential for interpretation of the image. Additionally, they will outline their investigation into contemporary technological approaches as their initial analog process, resulting in single copper-plate photogravures, expanded to include the integration of digital tools in the creation of four-colour separation gravures. The presentation will conclude with personal reflections on the ongoing relevance of photogravure in creating current work as one of the many options available within the vast array of photographic and reprographic media.
Historian Tamar Carroll and photojournalist Josh Meltzer discuss their collaboration on the exhibition “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” which chronicles movements for social justice through photojournalism of demonstrations, marches, and violent confrontations.
In this panel, historian Tamar Carroll and photojournalist Josh Meltzer will discuss their collaboration on the exhibit, “‘Whose Streets? Our Streets,’: New York City, 1980-2000,” which chronicles movements for social justice in these decades through photojournalism of demonstrations, marches, and violent confrontations on the city streets. “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” features the work of 38 independent photographers, working in the social documentary tradition of using photography to advocate for the need for social change. Much of this work has never been exhibited before, residing in the private archives of the photographers, taken on film prior to the age of social media sharing. The exhibit was co-curated by Carroll, RIT photo alum and photo editor Meg Handler, and Bronx Documentary Center founder Mike Kamber, and opened at the BDC in January 2017. Meltzer developed the interactive web exhibit and conducted oral history interviews with many of the photojournalists whose work is in the show, which form the basis of a short documentary film he is making about the role of photojournalism in chronicling struggles for social change. Carroll and Meltzer are in the process of planning an expanded version of the exhibit, which will open at RIT in October 2018 and travel to other institutions after that, and this panel will discuss what they have learned about the history of recent social documentary photography as well as the process of collaborative exhibition design.
“Landscape Photography and the ‘Great American Road Trip’”
Nicki Klepper, Savannah College of Art and Design
This paper examines the ineffable links between photography, the “great American road trip,” and the myth of the American West. My scholarship examines how photographs have both reflected and constructed the West as a frontier ripe for adventure, and how historical and contemporary automobile journeys link the camera and the car as machinery for exploring the self and the landscape. Throughout the history of landscape photography, subjective visions have impacted the perception of place. The identity of a nation is shaped by celebrating victorious historical events and embracing the culture of the people who founded it. However, it is possible that collective memory, formed by years of photographic and written documentation, has had an impression on the way human beings construct their understanding of a space. This paper examines, in particular, how the photographic road trips of Robert Frank, in the 1950s, and Rebecca Norris Webb, more recently, represent the American West as a mental space to cope with anxiety and doubt. Frank and Norris Webb’s personal and problematic photographs offer a contrast from more conventional idyllic representations of the western frontier. I assess how images by Frank and Norris Webb illuminate the complicated nature of place and the self by replacing trite expectations with psychological intimacy.
“Hidden Treasure: Panoramic Photographs of the Alaska Territory as Taken by Topographers with the United States Geological Survey”
Richard E. Schneider, National Archives and Records Administration
Hidden Treasure is a presentation that summarizes and provides technical and aesthetic insight into an exhibit of the same name presently (2017) on display at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). This exhibit was researched, produced (digital imaging, printing) and curated by the presenter. It concentrates on the use of panoramic photography to collect visual data for topographic surveying in the Alaska Territory, and was practiced by the USGS between 1910 and 1932. Using the panorama in this fashion had never before been successful, and was invaluable in the creation of accurate topographic maps – the final product.
Despite having a scientific purpose to provide visual information to a topographer, the panoramas themselves can have immense beauty, and on occasion would offer a glimpse of the rugged life in Alaska from a century ago.
The Hidden Treasure exhibit not only showcases Alaskan panoramas, but also discusses issues of interest to archivists, photo historians, digital imaging specialists and photo conservators. In addition, it provides awareness of the diversity of historic materials found at NARA, and how poignant connections can be drawn between photographic, cartographic and textual records.
RIT has a long history of embracing both the technical and aesthetic facets of photography, and this presentation would continue in that tradition. I have an MFA from RIT, and studied with Professor Andrew Davidhazy (retired) in 1981, who first introduced me to panoramic photography.
More information on Hidden Treasure can be found at https://www.archives.gov/news/topics/alaska-exhibit and an interview by the BBC is at https://vimeo.com/228273184.
“Amateur Photograph Production in California Circa 1900”
Jade M. Finlinson, Getty Research Institute
At the turn of the 20th century, innovations in film and camera technology made the photographic medium more accessible to nonprofessionals, resulting in an explosion of amateur practitioners and camera clubs around the country. My presentation will focus on two examples of amateur photograph production in California and the subject of landscape as a reflection of the popular imagination and cultural preoccupations circa 1900. Members of the Los Angeles Camera Club embarked on outings to photograph “nature” subjects and Spanish colonial missions, and aspired to create painterly art photographs that were then shared through lantern slide exchanges and small exhibitions. Similarly, the survey photographs of California terrain produced by geographer and educator Harold W. Fairbanks are a record of his particular vision for teaching children the emerging discipline of geography. These photographers made images that often submerged political conflict beneath pastoral, idealized versions of American culture and history, but their work can also help us understand the contingent nature of the ideological forces that continue to shape our world. Comprising art and survey, stylized snapshot and historical record, these localized examples illustrate tensions in early popular representations of prescribed cultural ideals and the political realities that we still grapple with today, including American imperial ambitions and the environmental racism that continues to play out in our landscapes and cityscapes.
“Shifting Focus: The Editorial vs. Educational Eye”
Sara Manco, National Geographic Society
For decades, the National Geographic Society’s Photo Archive has been the domain of editors or staff inside the organization. This narrow point of view focused on the most beautiful or most “publish worthy” images. Over time this emphasis on the few vs. the many, on the narrow vs. the wide, shaped internal opinions and values of the collection. Focus was placed on a small section of the more than 12 million images in the collection. Now, perspectives on 130 years of photography are moving away from the editorial eye and towards an educational eye.
To make this shift, the National Geographic Society is reliant on archivists and those involved with education on all levels, from Ph. D scholars to grade school teachers. Using the archive as a resource for their projects will help solidify the inherent historical and intellectual value of the collection. However, this change is not without its challenges. Changing internal and external notions of the value of the collection will all us to move away from the itemized worth of an image and be able to measure beyond the monetary worth of the collection. This process also has the ability to democratize the collection - to move from away from narrow professional judgements towards multiple, diverse viewpoints.
“The Blurring Distinctions of Taking versus Making Photographs: Teaching Photography in a Digital Culture”
Kathy Petitte Novak, University of Illinois Springfield, and Brytton Bjorngaard, University of Illinois Springfield
In the age of digital culture and social media, where photography is ubiquitous, it seems anyone can be a photographer. What differentiates the snapshot from the photograph? What elevates and remains constant about the photograph? And if the photograph has become something different in the age of digital image-making, perhaps more communication than memory-making, more record than intent, and more consumerist than art, what do we as scholars of photography do with technique, technology, content, and practice as we teach amid a changing culture of the photograph? Our research considers classic theoretical questions of photography and art (Berger, 1995; Sontag, 1977), representation (Barthes, 1982; Hall, 1997), social definitions of photography (Bourdieu, 1990), construction of meaning (Mendelsonm 2007), and power (Foucault) as we analyze photography as visually mediated through cultural digitization to explore further: What makes a photograph? How do we teach photography when the “distinction between professional and amateur photography seems anachronistic in an era when the most ordinary of everyday snapshots become the most iconic portraits of twenty-first-century politics?” (Hand, 2012, p. 14). How does digitization affect what we consider photography and how we teach our students in various genres (photojournalism, fine art, commercial) of photography?
“Putting the Photograph Back into Photography”
Alice Carver-Kubik, Rochester Institute of Technology
Photography is a powerful visual communication tool which has been adopted by nearly every discipline of study. As a result, photographs are ubiquitous and the history of photography is expansive. In teaching this history, we are forced to pick and choose leaving some things out; commonly, it is the photograph itself that is omitted. Most photographs exist as both image and object. Before digital imaging the act of making a photograph required the manipulation of materials and chemistry to produce a photographic print—an object. Artists in particular paid attention to the art and craft of printing, equally celebrating both the physical and aesthetic qualities of the medium. Photography saw a slow transition into becoming primarily image-centric throughout the latter half of the twentieth century with the rise of Marxism and the introduction of photomechanical reproduction, the advent of the photo magazine and photo-book, and finally the indoctrination of the history of photography into art history teaching programs. These courses are primarily taught through projection contributing to our dissociation with the original object by limiting discussion to the qualities of the image alone. The result is the study of photographic images. With the help of the internet and digital imaging, several web-based tools have been developed to aid in the identification and characterization of photographs. These web sites can be integrated into photography scholarship in order to put object and image back together, to put the photograph back into photography.
“The Romantic Garden as an Element of European Bourgeois Portrait Photography”
Esther Stutz, University of Basel, Switzerland
With the announcement of the photographical method in 1839, the relationship between culture and nature took a new course. With the upcoming photographic business, shortly after the announcement of the Daguerreotype, the bourgeois class of Switzerland showed great interest in the new medium, as it stood in competition to nobility and their media of classic portrait painting. Especially the bourgeois class evolved new conventions of photographic representation and enjoyed presenting themselves in romanticized garden scenes, which were staged in photo studios. The romantic garden symbolized a civilized surrounding, a sign for domesticated nature through the higher classes and it was likely to be adapted from classical portrait paintings of upper class families. This connection and combination of bourgeoisie, photography and garden scenes shall be analyzed with a focus on a rarely explored archive of the photographer dynasty “Höflinger”, who has had a photographic studio in Basel, Switzerland from 1857 until 1970s in Basel. The main goal is to show the close connection of bourgeoisie and the early medium photography which can be seen in the Höflinger-collection, that includes i.e. garden motives as a factor of representation in society at the end of the 19th century.
“Julia Margaret Cameron’s Dalmatian Maid: A Pictorialist Transformation”
Jeff H. Rosen, Higher Learning Commission
Pictorial photography was born in 1891 as an international undertaking, organized and steered by amateur photographers who were devoted to the artistic possibilities of the medium. Early on, they seized upon the Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron as one of their chief forerunners. In an 1891 issue of Sun Artists, for example, Peter Henry Emerson called Cameron an “old master” of photography, and later that year, in Sun & Shade, the editors published Cameron’s portrait of Christina Spartali, untitled during Cameron’s time but here printed in photogravure and titled A Dalmatian Maid. In a 1913 issue of Camera Work, Stieglitz characterized Cameron’s portraits as an unparalleled “breadth of force,” and in December 1914, in New York’s Ehrich Galleries, Alvin Langdon Coburn displayed Cameron’s works again, calling his exhibition, “The Old Masters of Photography.”
“For my own part,” wrote Clarence White in 1915, “I must confess an influence on my work inspired by Mrs. Cameron’s ‘Dalmatian Maid,’ a copy of which I saw in the days of my early efforts.” But Cameron’s photograph did not exist earlier with the same title or in the same form that “influenced” White. Rather, those who claimed the deed to write Cameron’s legacy created this image as a photogravure, coming at a critical time when portraiture and allegory vied for priority among the Pictorialists’ choice of subjects, and when photogravure rivaled other means of printing. This paper takes Cameron’s Dalmatian Maid as a starting point to understand this strategy of representation in the pictorial movement.
“Taking the Alt Route: Helen Post’s Emergence from Photo Anonymity”
Carlyle Constantino, University of Phoenix, Las Vegas
Helen Post created nearly 2,000 photographs of Native Americans during her lifetime, working in the cultural context of pre-World War II America. Embracing the roles of wife, photographer, and government employee, Post concentrated her energies on trying to understand the complex social issues of the era in which she lived. She assumed her position as “outsider” with relative ease, manifested in her remarkably personal images of peoples who sustained a complicated, disheartening relationship with the United States government and those associated with it. Her images are both poignant and provocative. Yet, despite the enormity of her collection, Post has remained largely absent from any dialogue on photography. Conversely, photographer Laura Gilpin—a contemporary to Post—has achieved relatively pronounced acclaim in the annals of art history. My paper argues that a difference in patronage directly affected each photographer’s overall influence in the art world. Gilpin sold her photographs to various individuals and institutions in order to make a living—Post did not, or at least, did not need to. Though the two women experienced differing financial and living circumstances, their respective bodies of work warrant equal place in academic discussions.
“The Eastman-Cossitt Detective Camera”
George Layne, independent scholar, Flourtown, PA
George Eastman invented the first successful amateur photographic camera which was introduced to the public as " The Kodak " in 1888. Listed by Carla Hayden, the United States Librarian of Congress, as " one of the 10 most meaningful advances in history - the inventions and innovations responsible for the trappings of modern life," the " Kodak " was not Eastman's first camera.
I propose to present a description of the Eastman - Cossitt Detective camera of 1886, the first camera to use an internal Eastman-Walker roll holder to move a roll of Eastman's newly invented flexible film through the camera. I will show photographs of the inside of the only known existing example of the camera, from the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. I will describe how Eastman's failure to market this camera led him to work to make the "Kodak" such a resounding success a few years later.
The Eastman Detective Camera of was considered a key part of the story of the development of Eastman's growth as America's leading photographic entrepreneur. I will describe the disappointment of the curators at the George Eastman Museum at not having an example in their collection in the early 1950s and their positive reaction to learning that there was a camera at the Smithsonian.
“History of the Boston Box”
Peter H. Schultz, Brown University and Barbara W. Schultz, Pinhole Graphics
The chamfered rosewood daguerreotype camera (primarily from New York manufacturers) is a uniquely American design that disappeared in the late-1850’s, replaced by the more flexible Lewis bellows cameras. Yet very little has been documented about the sliding box-in-box camera (especially the “Boston Box”) typically found throughout New England. While Plumbe sold a box-in-box design in Boston in 1842, two other examples dominated the market later. Identified by a maker label, John Roberts made a full line of sizes. A second mystery maker also made a full line but with subtle differences in construction (rounded corners, different brass, and wood grain). We now have evidence that this “other” example came from a cabinet maker located only a block away from the John Roberts shop. The early Boston photographer A. S. Southworth engaged both cabinetmakers: John Roberts, for cameras sold through his studio in the 1840’s; the other maker, for his patent designs. In this presentation, we will reconstruct the history of the Roberts family and their cameras from the 1840’s into the 1860’s, identify the competing maker(s), locate their shops, place their designs in historical context, and trace US-made box-in-box design into the wet-plate era. The presentation is based on original research gleaned from the Eastman House, various libraries throughout Northeast, contemporary literature, and surviving examples. Our goal is to illustrate how collected objects can be used to inform photographic history and expose a more complete picture about the birth and the behind-the-scenes makers of early US cameras.
“Resumption of Retina Camera Production at Kodak AG in 1945”
David L. Jentz, The Historical Society for Retina Cameras
This presentation will: review the pre-war condition of Kodak AG Dr. Nagel Werk in Stuttgart, the World War II activities at the plant and the loss of communication with Eastman Kodak Co.; give the war-time history including time-fuse manufacturing, the death of Dr. August Nagel (founder) in 1943 and Allied bombing of the plant in 1944. The difficulties that occurred during and immediately after the war are reviewed; explain the post-war US Military Government control of the Kodak AG Stuttgart plant, rather than by Eastman Kodak Co. and show when Eastman Kodak Co. regains control much later; demonstrate examples of manufacturing changes due to war-time/post-war metal shortages including their impact on the make-up of Retina cameras; review the short time from war’s end (May 1945) to first camera production (November 1945), along with the use of pre-war lenses/shutters stored in a bunker in Einsingen, Germany; display external and internal findings in immediate post-war Retina I cameras that give insight into how the Retina I was brought so quickly to production; show that the majority of early production post-war Retina cameras were supplied to the PX system including examples purchased by US military personnel; previously unpublished historic Kodak and military documents will be presented and key persons with their contributions will be shown.
Rochester Institute of Technology has been at the forefront of photographic education for more than a century. The first photography class occurred very early, in 1902, at about the same time as Mechanics Institute (as RIT was then known) initiated its Fine and Applied Arts curriculum. A degree program in photography, with ties to Eastman Kodak, was established in 1930. Today RIT offers an array of programs for photography professionals.
PhotoHistory/PhotoFuture conferees are invited to campus for an evening featuring a reception at RIT Press, four photography exhibitions and a tour of the Image Permanence Institute.
Reception: RIT Press, The Wallace Center (library), second floor.
Sponsored by RIT’s Office of the Vice President for Research (Ryne Raffaelle)
“Photography and Photographers at RIT: An Overview”
An exhibition highlighting RIT’s 116 years of photographic education, organized and curated by the staff of RIT Archives Collections. RIT’s curriculum in photography began with a strong technical focus at the turn of the 20th century broadening in the 1950s to include “illustration,” and encompassing advertising, fine art, and photojournalism.
RIT Archives, The Wallace Center (library), third floor.
“The Luminous Print: An Appreciation of Photogravure”
An exhibition organized and curated by David Pankow. As one of only two continuous-tone photomechanical printing processes, photogravure has long enjoyed a reputation among photographers as one of the most beautiful and tonally sumptuous mechanisms for publishing their images. This exhibit, presented in the showcases of RIT’s Cary Graphic Arts Collection, is drawn from the extensive graphic arts holdings at RIT and features a stunning selection of books and portfolios illustrated with hand-pulled photogravures, as well as landmark photo books with illustrations in rotogravure.
RIT Cary Graphic Arts, The Wallace Center (library), second floor.
An exhibition and celebration of end-of-study thesis projects by six RIT students in the MFA in Photography & Related Media program, School of Photographic Arts and Sciences. The exhibition explores themes of memory, identity, technology of imaging and the environment through photographs, books, video and installation work.
William Harris Gallery, Gannett Hall, third floor, room 3030.
“Portraits of a Planet: Photographer in Space”
Premiere exhibition of large-format photographic prints taken by American astronaut Donald Pettit from the International Space Station. Stunning views of cities at night, lightning sparking across night skies, aurora, and planetary phenomena captured with meticulous precision using time-lapse, long exposure, and split-second timing. The exhibition prints were made at the RIT Imaging Systems Lab. Pettit, an active American astronaut, captured images of cosmic events while on his three space flights.
RIT University Gallery, Vignelli Center, Booth Hall.
Tour: Image Permanence Institute
IPI is an academic research laboratory within the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences at RIT, focused on research that informs the preservation of cultural heritage collections. Areas of expertise include the preservation of photographic materials and sustainable practices in preservation environmental management. Tour participants will have the opportunity to see IPI’s laboratory facilities and learn about current initiatives at IPI.
Gannett Hall, second floor, room 2000.
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sponsored by RIT Libraries
“Today is Their Creator: Keith Smith’s No-Picture Books as Photographic Works”
Molly Kalkstein, University of Arizona
Since 1967, Keith A. Smith (b. 1938) has made over three hundred artist’s books, combining a diverse range of media and inventive approaches to book structure and content. As a student, Smith worked closely with photographers Arthur Siegel and Aaron Siskind, and was later recruited by Nathan Lyons to teach at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester.
Despite these formative connections, Smith’s engagement with the medium of photography has been ambivalent, a tension that is nowhere more evident than in his so-called “no-picture books.” These thirty-six inkless books, characterized by the use of torn or punched paper and strung pages, include no photographs, no images of any other kind, and no text, and yet Smith has regularly referred to them as photographic books. To date, however, there has been no scholarship examining their status as such.
This paper proposes that the no-picture books draw on fascinating historical debates about the technical and conceptual basis of photography itself, from the lineage of cameraless photography to László Moholy-Nagy’s curricula at the New Bauhaus and Institute of Design. I also examine Smith’s engagement not only with specifically photographic principles, but with an even broader array of sensory and durational concerns. Like Robert Rauschenberg’s notorious White Paintings, from which this paper takes its title, I argue that the pages of the no- picture books are not truly empty, but are rather embedded with latent images that appear only when the book is opened, and that vary according to the reader and the day.
“SNAP! CLICK! POP! A Century of Photography in Children’s Books, 1890-1990: Documents to Dreams”
Jane Wattenberg, independent researcher, San Francisco, CA
Photography in children’s books has a lineage as long as photography itself. In the 1870s the first hand-held cameras made photography accessible. By 1895 photography knocked loudly on the nursery door jumping onto the pages of children’s books.
Discourse on photobooks for children is generally scant and mainly reflects on the last forty to fifty years. Little is known about the books themselves, and far less about the photographers who made them. This talk will fill in the details.
Children’s photobooks range from concept books, to ABCs, tableaux fantasies to Mother Goose, animal tales to travelogues, science books to photo-mysteries. Photo-illustrated picturebooks differ from hand-illustrated picturebooks in a photograph’s implied associations to authenticity. Ostensibly, photographs mirror truth –what we see, what we know, how we live. But with darkroom magic photographers have also created photo fantasies with puppets and dolls as well as surrealistic dramas employing photomontage. Photobooks for children range from documents to dreams, replicating the ordinary, manifesting the extraordinary.
This highly visual presentation will cover the rich diversity of 19th and 20th century photo-illustrated children's books. How early photo scrapbooks of the 1860s led to the first children’s photobooks and how the increasing ease and popularity of photography encouraged a subsequent rich, golden age of photo picturebooks will be explored. The photographers, including amateurs, hobbyists, the little known as well as the famous, will be highlighted along with their books.
“The ‘Blanquart-Evrard’ Cahiers in the Collection of the George Eastman Museum”
Heather A. Shannon, George Eastman Museum
In 1950, Kodak-Pathé donated the so-called Blanquart-Evrard cahiers to the George Eastman Museum. The company acquired the five cahiers from Henri Fontan, a World War I veteran from Douai, who claimed for them an association with Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard. Fontan faithfully promised to provide documentation for his claim and even proposed to undertake a trip to Lille to search out additional corroborating evidence. Although Fontan failed to produce any documented proof supporting his assertion, the museum allowed the matter to drop after the cahiers arrived in Rochester. Together, the cahiers consist of 122 waxed paper negatives and ninety salted paper and albumen silver prints made before 1856 primarily in the north of France. This material constitutes the bulk of the museum’s French waxed paper negative holdings, far surpassing the number in the museum’s celebrated Gabriel Cromer collection. While the cahiers are known to specialists, their precise content and association with Blanquard-Evrard have remained something of a mystery, in part because—until recently—they had never been fully cataloged or digitized. In my paper, I elucidate the history of the acquisition and outline the content and complexities of the cahiers. My goal is not to argue for or against their association with Blanquart-Evrard but to lay the groundwork for further study of this most tantalizing mystery.
“American Photography in the Philippines Before 1898: The Menage Expedition”
Mark Rice, St. John Fisher College
The history of American photography in the Philippines after the 1898 Spanish-American War is well known, and has been written about extensively within histories of American imperialism and histories of colonial photography. Indeed, most accounts of American photography in the Philippines begin with that historical moment. However, there is an important but largely overlooked archive of images made several years prior to 1898 that is useful for better understanding the intersections between photography, anthropology, and colonialism in the nineteenth century. This paper will discuss those photographs and provide a historical framework for interpreting their significance.
Between 1890 and 1892, two young Americans--Frank S. Bourns and Dean C. Worcester--took more than 150 photographs while on a zoological expedition through the central and southern Philippines. Taken in the late Spanish-colonial era and at a time when very few Americans had heard of the Philippines and even fewer imagined a future of American control there, many of the photographs nonetheless conform in important ways to later American-colonial era photographs in the Philippines. (Bourns and Worcester later played important roles in the American colonial regime there) The significance of these photographs lies both in the fact that their very existence allows us to push the history of American photography in the Philippines back by nearly a decade and also in the ways that the images enrich our understandings of the conventions of colonial photography within multiple colonial contexts.
“Street Vendor Portraits Around the World: Czernowitz, Capetown, San Francisco, More!”
Mary Panzer, independent scholar, Rochester, NY
This paper looks closely at a genre of portraiture practiced widely around the world from the 1930s into the 1960s in public squares and shopping streets where people had no cameras of their own.
Whether called “Movie Snaps” in Capetown, “Foto Paris” in Medellin, or “Foto Splendide" in Czernowitz operators worked busy walking streets, carrying 35mm movie cameras rigged to shoot one frame at a time. Every figure, couple, group or family is caught in motion, often unaware of the camera, and full length, in a photographic context once reserved for celebrities. “A Motion Picture of You has Just Been Taken -- See How You Look....” promised San Francisco’s Fox Movie Flash on the preprinted cards photographers handed out to solicit payment.
Seen one at a time, in albums or flea markets, these pictures attract little attention. But historians and artists researching places as unalike as 1930s Czernowitz, 1940 Marseille, 1950s Capetown, 1960s Tripoli, and 1970s Cali have discovered their documentary power.
This paper suggests that Movie Snaps may be the exceptional form of photography in which photographer and subject are always equal. Regardless of place, race, or time period, the images are always the same, true to the demands of the camera, the transaction, and the willing parties who come together.
This paper relies on Erving Goffman’s Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. It derives from study of the Joseph Selle Fox Movie Flash Archive at Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY where over one million frames from Fox Movie Flash are now stored (http://www.vsw.org/collections/research-center/joseph-selle-fox-movie-flash-archive/). Approximately 10,000 images have been scanned and are available at: http://andreweskind.com/andy/streetphot/.
“The Logic of Montage & the Genealogy of Typophoto”
Jessica D. Brier, University of Southern California
In 1925, artist and designer László Moholy-Nagy coined the term “Typophoto,” hailing the combination of photography and typography as “the most visually exact rendering of communication.” This deceptively simple declaration obscured a complex set of approaches to graphic design from which photomontage emerged as a tool for manipulating form and meaning in the service of politics, commerce, and science. It also obscured the longer history of the photographic halftone, a technology introduced in 1881 that translated the continuous-tone print into a graphic matrix of dots. Existing histories of photography thoroughly chronicle the advent of photographic processes. However, the mass reproduction and circulation of photography was enabled by techniques that turned photographic images into hybrid images through montage. I argue that the very medium of photography was thoroughly reinvented by graphic design—through the utopian ambitions of Typophoto and the technology of the halftone process. This paper explores how symbolic conventions developed by graphic designers in early twentieth-century Germany directly informed Typophoto as a tool of advertising. I trace the development of image typologies in the fields of advertising (namely the trademark and brand) and social science (pictogram and infographic) as part of the genealogy of Typophoto. This genealogy evidences a larger discourse in Germany around the persuasive, affective, and utopian potential of images as communicative tools. This discourse, and the strategies of formal abstraction and text-image combination employed be graphic designers, situates photomontage not only as a technique of the avant-garde but as a uniquely modern mode of mass communication.
“Designed for Hi-Fi Living: Photographic Modernism in Midcentury Album Covers”
Jonathan Schroeder, Rochester Institute of Technology and Janet Borgerson, City, University of London, England
In the 1950s, album cover design emerged as an important arena for photography. Celebrated photographers such as W. Eugene Smith, William Claxton, Francis Wolff, and Lee Friedlander contributed to the burgeoning genre, as the album cover came to represent a significant forum for design and cultural expression. In this talk, we propose to discuss album cover photography from the midcentury by focusing on lesser known examples of the genre. After providing a brief background on the rise of photography within album cover design, we will focus on LP cover work by Lee Friedlander, Roy DeCarava, Wendy Hilty, and the Hedrich-Blessing photography firm. Friedlander’s photographs adorn dozens of albums, including John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, and Ray Charles The Genius of Ray Charles, on Atlantic and Dakota Stanton’s Time to Swing on Capitol. DeCarava came to prominence in the 1940s and 1950s photographing jazz musicians and everyday life in Harlem. His work appears on several midcentury LPs. Hilty’s work appeared in high profile magazines, such as Argosy and Esquire, and he produced a series of ads for Canadian Club whisky that ran in Life magazine. Our attention was focused on the dozens of classic LP covers for RCA Records during the 1950s. Hilty brought a stylized and staged aesthetic to his album cover work. We especially like his distinctive photography for RCA’s “Dinner Music” series, which capture stereotypic, yet appealing, images of “Music for a German Dinner at Home,” “Music for an Italian Dinner at Home,” and “Music for a Backyard Barbecue”. Henry Blessing and Ken Hedrich founded their photography studio in Chicago in 1929. The firm became well known for their imagery of modernist architecture projects by Mies van der Rohe and Eero Saarinen. As modernist notions entered into the lives, lifestyles, and landscapes of post war Americans, Hedrich-Blessing became known as a “communicator” of related spaces and ideas. Their conceptualizations leap out, in brilliant hues, from the “Music for Gracious Living” series of albums from Columbia Records that capture evocative and pedagogically purposeful staging of the modern American home, offering subtly instructive pictured scenarios to answer the uncertainties of gracious living. For example, After the Dance’s cover resembles Hedrich Blessing’s classic interior shots of midcentury buildings such as Chicago’s Marina City Towers and John Hancock Center.
“Hocken Album 052: Creating Photographs with a Difference in Southern New Zealand”
Anna Petersen, Hocken Collections, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Contained within a small album housed at the Hocken Library is a unique set of photographs taken in southern New Zealand c.1894. They are examples of work by W.M. Hodgkins, Professor J.H. Scott, Dr W.S. Roberts and other members of the Dunedin Photographic Society who had strong links with the local art society and University of Otago.
This paper offers an interpretation of the album as a whole and a discussion of a few photographs in particular with a view to revealing the multi-layered significance of this deceptively simple-looking collection. It is argued that such ‘artistic’ photographs modelled a progressive spirit of inquiry and experimentation for local painters and photographers alike.
The portraits of the Karetai whānau are especially notable being unlike any other known images of Ngāi Tahu Māori taken by professional Pākehā (non-Māori) photographers in the nineteenth century, including the celebrated Burton Brothers. The Karetais were different, but so were the people behind the camera. The Karetais welcomed their visitors in and allowed one to photograph their home, and it is only thanks to the ongoing generosity and support of the whānau and other families involved that these images are available for study.
The paper touches on various traditional lines of demarcation between the professional and amateur photographer, painting and photography, landscape and genre subject matter, Māori and Pākehā, lending weight to the old idea that looking to the margins yields some of the greatest rewards.
“George Eastman Goes to Newfoundland and Labrador”
Edith Cuerrier, The Rooms Provincial Archive of Newfoundland and Labrador/George Eastman Museum
Photographs of Newfoundland and Labrador contained in two albums from the George Eastman House Legacy Collection constitute the subject of this thesis project. The project consists in accessioning, numbering and cataloguing each image, 299 in total, and in enriching the records with historical and cultural context for the purpose of making these images searchable through the George Eastman House database and accessible to researchers for future projects. This is important because of the historic value associated with the life and deeds of George Eastman and because these images are part of a large and as yet not fully catalogued collection of Eastman's private photographs. The Newfoundland album photographs are consecutively numbered 2009:0039:0001 to 0110, the Newfoundland inventory sheets became objects 2009:0040:0001 to 0003, and the Labrador album photographs are numbered 2009:0041:0001 to 0189. These records are now available both online and as a hard-copy binder in the Legacy Collection.
“Chronicling Artists' Oeuvres: The Critical Role of Photography in Catalogue Raisonné Research”
Ashley Levine, Artifex Press and Carina Evangelista, Artifex Press
If a catalogue raisonné is akin to the curriculum vitae for a visual artist, then photography provides the visual history of each artwork. Beyond master images serving as indispensable stand-ins for the artworks, archival photographs of artists working in the studio, their sketches, maquettes, exhibition installations, and manuscripts provide researchers indispensable documentary tools to track an artist’s processes, transitions, and innovations. This photography contributes to the understanding of an artist’s oeuvre within a larger art historical context.
Artifex Press will demonstrate the documentary role and challenges of photography in compiling the digital catalogues raisonnés of Chuck Close, Tim Hawkinson, Robert Irwin, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, and Lucas Samaras, and simultaneously, the use of photography in their oeuvres. Close, afflicted with face blindness, has spent 50 years painting the human face with photography as the bedrock of his practice. Hawkinson, known primarily for sculptures, produced a number of photo collages. Samaras, a photographer himself, created boxes filled with boldly colored and heavily textured objects, many mixed with photographs. LeWitt famously privileged the idea for an artwork over the object, yet used documentary photography of his Wall Drawings as key evidence of these ephemeral works. Martin’s minimal paintings and Irwin’s spectral installations test the threshold of visibility, often defying the camera’s lens.
While print catalogues have traditionally been limited to the confines of the book page, Artifex Press’s pioneering publishing platform for digital catalogues raisonnés offers potentially infinite visual compilations in fulfilling the critical function of photography in art history.
“Loss of Vision: How Art Historians and Critics Misjudge Early 20th Century Photography and How Early Photographers Along with Art Museums and Archives Help to Obscure the Photographic Record”
Nicolette Bromberg, University of Washington
This paper examines how art critics/historians often base their judgment of work from early 20th century commercial photographers on the aesthetics of late 20th century (or 21st Century) art photography. Such judgments reflect the critics’ ignorance of the social milieu and working methods of the commercial photographer at the turn of the 20th century. Starting with an incorrect analysis of a photograph by the early 20th century photographer, Bellocq, written by the well-known art critic and art historian, Max Kozloff, this paper will show how a modern critic based his judgments of a photograph (made in about 1912) on late 20th century art aesthetics and how his analysis demonstrates his lack of understanding of how photographers commonly worked in the early part of the 20th century. The paper will present information on the practice of the commercial photographer particularly in small town settings. The paper will also discuss how modern archives and art museums alter the original intent of the photographer by the presenting these photographs to the public in a manner which is out of context with how and why the work was produced. The paper will also examine how the work of early photographers was often altered and obscured by the photographers themselves and how common archival practice continues to present that altered information to researchers.
“The Photographic Archivist is Dead, Long Live the Photographic Archivist!”
Stephen J. Fletcher, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
To date, the knowledge base and role of the photographic archivist has been deeply rooted in the preservation, access, and use of traditional “analog” photographic formats ranging from daguerreotypes and wet collodion processes through gelatin silver black-and-white and dye coupler photography. These physical formats formed a dynasty that dominated the photographic world for more than 170 years. With the dawn of the 21st century, a new monarchy —digital photography—emerged and supplanted once-dominate photographic image making kings. Nearly two decades of the current kingdom have passed, yet many photographic archivists have been hesitant to grapple with the realities of collecting, preserving, and understanding born-digital photography.
The skill-sets, knowledge, and understanding required to manage and administer traditional photographic collections will necessarily continue. With the advent of digital photography, however, those skill-sets must evolve and expand to assure the continuity of the historical record as captured in photographs. One role played by photographic archivists has been that of sharers, contributing to the larger archival profession our understanding about what is unique and significant about photographic records that is distinct from other records. In this new milieu, new questions arise. What distinguishes born-digital photographs from other born- digital records? What adaptations or new techniques must we enjoin to work with born-digital photographic images that differ from those we employ with traditional photographic materials? And maybe most importantly, do we need to change how we think about ourselves, either as specialized photographic archivists or more generalist archivists, to understand the essence of born-digital photographic collections?
“Brought into the Light: The Museum and the Photograph 1850-1900”
Evan D. Williams, independent scholar, Newfield, NY
For much of its first century, photography was relegated to the role of the “humble handmaid of the arts and sciences” (in Baudelaire's words) and museums were slow to recognize its potential as a both a technological innovation and a creative medium in its own right. The Museum of Modern Art in New York established the world's first museum department of photography in 1940 and the world's first museum devoted entirely to photography was chartered in Rochester seven years later—and 108 years after the invention of the medium. However, a few early champions endeavored to bring photography into the purview of the museum during the second half of the nineteenth century. This presentation focuses on three key pioneers—Sir Henry Cole, William Blackmore, and Max Lehrs—who, though largely forgotten today, paved the way for the extensive photographic collections at MoMA, the Eastman Museum, and countless other public institutions worldwide.
“Digital Photojournalism as Performance: Ethics, Social Responsibility and a Writ of Habeas Corpus”
Mary A. Bock, University of Texas at Austin
Historically, the authority of photojournalistic work has been rooted in the technical perfection of the camera and the power of news institutions. The constructed nature of photojournalistic practice—including the photographers themselves— has been occluded in order to elevate the camera’s output as fact. Digital media have disrupted this authority with easy photo manipulation, instant access to a global audience and blurred institutional boundaries. The professional territory of photojournalists committed to truthful storytelling for the public good is under siege.
This essay explores the remedy offered by performance theory as conceived by Richard Schnechner (1977), which extends theatrical concepts to the social realm and has enriched the study of ritual, protest and politics. With its emphasis on embodiment in presentational activities, performance theory offers a new way of thinking about just what it is that photojournalists do, and what makes their work worthy of public trust. Digital media provide a platform on which photojournalists can emerge from backstage to account for their work as witnesses in order to build trust in ways that pixel arrays cannot. For too long, images have long been treated as though they speak for themselves, even by those who know visual meaning is largely contingent. By shifting our conceptualization of evidence away from the camera and toward the human who operates it, performance theory can aid in remapping the boundaries of socially responsible photojournalism.
“The Transformation of a Newspaper Negative Archive: The Case of the London Free Press”
Tom Belton, Western University Archives, Canada
The London Free Press is a mid-sized city newspaper with a long history of serving the region of Southwestern Ontario. Its photographic negative archive from the 1930s to the early 1990s resides at Western University Archives in London, Canada. This archive consists of around 1.6 million images. Furthermore, it is entirely likely that upcoming accruals to this collection dating up to around 2006 will increase that number to over 2 million images, including born digital photographs.
This archive is probably quite typical of those in other medium-sized cities around North America, in its size, complexity, preservation concerns, and types of content. There has been extensive use of this collection for many years, the vast majority of it being from non-campus users, who have been focused on local history or personal interest. Up until recently, Western Archives has usually provided only on-site access by allowing patrons to view selected negatives and request scanned copies.
In recent years, the Archives has begun a systematic description and digitization effort mainly to improve access to its metadata and rich visual content. To date, about 50,000 images have been digitized. The paper will describe the complexity and resource implications of these efforts. Additionally, it will highlight some of the areas in which the resulting digital archive could support not just local history or personal research but academic research in the areas of media studies, fashion, industrial design, and popular culture, among others. The paper will also consider some challenges to future retention and accessibility of born digital London Free Press photographs in decentralized copyright and recordkeeping environments.
“Uncovering the Transatlantic Networks of Picture Editor Norman Hall: What Photo Archives Reveal”
Lisa Coleman, University of New South Wales, Australia
There are many books, documentaries and exhibitions that celebrate the ‘photographer’ but few that honour the ‘people behind photography’. Yet during the mid-twentieth century, it was the picture editors who largely defined the course of the medium. As most photographers attest, it was the publications - books, annuals and magazines - that first engaged their vision, inspired their own voice, and guided them to make work for the same printed page (Howe, 2016). One highly influential editor (Photography, 1953-63) and picture editor (The Times of London, 1962-1975) Norman Hall, was a man internationally recognised by his peers as a visionary figure extremely focused on the language of photography. He was also a man who was able to connect photographers and editors around the world. Hall, however, is largely missing from the history of photography. My research addresses the invisibility of Australian born Norman Hall by bringing to light what has been hidden and forgotten in the archives of photographic history, and in this paper, I explore what I have found in the archives held at George Eastman Museum, Rochester. New evidence reveals transatlantic networks, and the trace of the influence between Hall and other key figures, such as Beaumont Newhall, Minor White, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Ira Latour, Paul Strand and Alvin Langdon Coburn. Correspondence between Hall, Newhall and White over many years details Hall’s pursuit for American connection, the exchange of intellectual writings, critical review, photographer introduction and new publication.
Exhibitions claim the present tense for mere months. The future of these short-lived constellations is limited to their documentation in installation photographs. By considering installation photography as a discrete practice, the panelists address the distinct types of knowledge enabled – and sometimes foreclosed – by installation photographs.
Exhibitions claim the present tense for mere months. Artworks emerge from storage and from crates packed by faraway lenders; they are briefly spot-lit, stared at, talked about, photographed, and then they return to the darkness. The future of these short-lived constellations is limited to their documentation in installation photographs. These photographs are often the sole surviving evidence of an exhibition; other times, installation shots represent the only visual records of artworks that have gone missing or been destroyed. The extensive photographic documentation of the Nazi Degenerate Art Show, for example, was central to Stephanie Barron’s critical re-staging of the exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1991. Extensive wall texts went unremarked in most period accounts of the exhibition, but installation shots revealed the work of these interpretive devices in aligning viewers’ responses to artworks with Nazi Party ideology. When installation photographs age, elements of an exhibition that appeared conventional or even invisible to period viewers, become more apparent.
The importance of these documents to the study of art history and visual culture has expanded noticeably since the 1990s. Still, little work has been done to understand the installation photograph as a unique genre of photographic practice. How do the limitations of photographic technology shape the way scholars think about historic exhibitions? How does the availability of installation photographs change scholarship on exhibition histories? Installation photographs, like photographs of works of art, were some of the first photographs to enter the museum, albeit housed in institutional archives rather than the general collection. What is the future of these now-historic photographs? And, what is the future of the genre, as installation photographs are increasingly produced by visitors for distribution on social media?
By considering installation photography as a discrete practice, the papers on this panel will address the distinct types of knowledge enabled—and sometimes foreclosed—by installation photographs.
“Collections, Recollections and the Memory of Objects”
Patricia Russotti, Rochester Institute of Technology
Patricia Russotti’s body of work investigates discrete collections of memory; a visualization of an artist creating meaning thru metaphors by visualizing life events, the many layers we wrap around the day to day, be it for remembering, for letting go, or for discovering what, in the process, has become possible. The invisible and unseen marks of time hollow out a space to navigate a new set of possibilities.
“Life of Places and Neglected Memories”
Giovanna Potestà, Rochester Institute of Technology
Giovanna Potestà examines the place in its dichotomy between historical place and anthropological place. In her work focusing on the city of Rochester, she analyzes the mutation of place from an architectural point of view, aiming at a change in the perception of the built environment.
“Creating Authenticity: Claiming Space and Identity with the Fur Trade and Photography”
Stacy Nation-Knapper, Rochester Institute of Technology
Stacy Nation-Knapper examines how commemorations of the North American fur trade celebrate fur traders as rugged pioneers who established Euro-North American settlements across the continent. Twentieth-century non-Indigenous settlers who revered traders in the Columbia River Plateau used photography to claim land and resources for the construction of memorials to the fur trade. At times fur trade enthusiasts misidentified and misauthenticated buildings and landscapes in photographs while ignoring local Indigenous oral histories and even the writings of traders themselves in an attempt to reconstruct the physical and imagined fur trade past.
“Rochester’s Frederick Douglass Monument: Identification and Re-Presentation in the Age of #TakeItDown”
Juilee Decker, Rochester Institute of Technology
Juilee Decker’s work draws upon themes of identification and re-presentation to examine Stanley W. Edwards’ Frederick Douglass monument in Rochester (1899) to show how objects and sites encompass, delete from, and shape identity. Key to the material under consideration are photographic documentation—coupled with newspaper and primary source accounts—which play an important role in understanding how the abolitionist, orator, and journalist (whose monument in Rochester is poised for relocation in early 2018), has become increasingly relevant in the age of #TakeItDown.
“Reframing the Photographic Pose”
Annie Rudd, University of Calgary, Canada
In spite of its ubiquity within photographic practices and brief discussions of its importance within canonical writings on photography, the photographic pose has received little scholarly attention. This paper reframes the pose—the deliberate placement of the body and face for the purpose of being photographed—by situating it at the center of photography’s history, treating it not as a trivial consideration but as a fundamental feature of the photographic portrait. Posing, when we place it in focus, reveals much about portrait photography’s shifting cultural meanings and its presence in the popular imaginary.
In this paper, I excavate three episodes in the history of the pose, looking at the ways posing was practiced in 19th-century commercial portrait studios and the ways commentators discussed it in the photographic trade press and in popular periodicals in North America and Western Europe. Treating the pose as an objectification of the body that necessitated the use of a shifting array of material accessories as well as an armature of cultural signifiers, I examine the changing practices and cultural meanings of the photogenic pose in the 19th century, focusing on the use of the much-maligned “head rest,” the uses and implications of purpose-built photographic furniture, and an array of accessories intended to aid in legible and culturally appropriate photographic self-presentation.
Taken together, these episodes reveal much about how people of the 19th century understood photographs’ capacity to represent the body and to mediate personal and social identity. They also demonstrate how, through embodied experiences, contemporaries negotiated and normalized rapid changes in imaging technologies in modernity, and exploited the possibilities that these new media offered for the presentation of the self.
“For Love or Money? Gisèle Freund’s Pioneering Pursuit of Photographic Portraiture in Color”
Sally Stein, University of California, Irvine
This lecture seeks to unpack the motives for Gisèle Freund becoming an early adopter of color photography in the late 1930s.
For numerous reasons Freund’s move in this direction doesn’t make immediate sense. Although modern integral tripack color films were recently introduced, as Freund herself later recalls they still involved many practical obstacles along with stiff costs for both film and processing. And this at a time when Freund had limited means to support herself as a stateless German Jew in Paris --who despite her pioneering dissertation on the history of 19th c. photography (Sorbonne,1936) could not as a foreigner begin teaching there. Moreover, in her pioneering dissertation, she had repeatedly lambasted any addition of color to the early photograph as a cheap pandering to fickle taste. So how to explain her turn to a color practice by 1938?
Of course, people are full of contradictions. So while this lecture starts by asking in polarized fashion if here she was motivated by love or money, after a review of her early experiences with both press photography and portraiture, it concludes by proposing that with color she sought to weave anew her longstanding desire to depict independent writers whom she revered so that they might appear more alive and worthy of attention, while also utilizing color as a canny way to find a niche in a most competitive field of magazine photography. Both strains are exemplified by her coup of an early published color portrait of James Joyce appearing on the cover of Time in May 1938, which both brought him new attention in the US and likewise her, reinforcing her hunch this might be a worthwhile (in all senses) path to pursue for decades to come.
“Clementina Hawarden’s Momentaneous Portraits”
Virginia Dodier, independent scholar, Rochester, NY
Was the key to Clementina Hawarden’s performative portraits of her daughters lost between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? When Hawarden made these photographs she was, like many other visual artists of her era, taking part in nineteenth century Britain’s fascination with performance. Virginia Dodier, author of Clementina, Lady Hawarden: Studies from Life, 1857-1864 (1999), discusses conjunctions between Hawarden’s tableaux vivants and stage performances.
“Deconstructing Robert Capa’s D-Day: The Unmaking of a Myth”
A. D. Coleman, independent critic and historian, Staten Island, NY
June 6, 2019 will mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the unprecedented seaborne invasion of France by the Allied Forces, a turning point in World War II.
On June 6, 1944, photojournalist Robert Capa, working on assignment for Life magazine, produced a handful of images that have become so closely associated with that event as to earn the overused label "iconic." No D-Day commemoration passes without the reproduction of those pictures and the repetition of the legend that has come to caption them.
The standard narrative of Robert Capa's actions on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the subsequent fate of his negatives constitutes photojournalism's most potent and durable myth. From it springs the image of the intrepid photojournalist as heroic loner, risking all to bear witness for humanity, yet at the mercy of corporate forces that, by cynical choice or sheer ineptitude, can in an instant erase from the historical record the only traces of a crucial passage in world events. That this legend went unexamined for seven decades serves as a measure of its appeal not just to photojournalists, to others involved professionally with photography, and to the medium's growing audience, but to the general public.
For the past three years, a team of volunteer researchers has probed this now established and indeed viral account of Capa's time on Omaha Beach and the purported loss of most of his D-Day negatives. Our discoveries have challenged the received version of this story, forcing major revisions thereto.
“Fragments: The Personal Albums (1941-1942) of S. Sgt. Jack B. Swan, Aerial Photographer”
Kristen Watson, Pratt Institute
Before the United States officially entered the Allied effort of the Second World War, an aerial photography trainee named Jack B. Swan began telling his own story in the form of two, large photographic albums. Born in Elmira, New York, Swan systematically trained as part of the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron. Throughout his instruction, Swan filled his albums with photographs and detailed captions reflecting on enlisted life. Swan and his classmates trained their lenses on the world around them. The slippage between the depiction of institutionalized preparation for warfare and the personal insights of a young man fraternizing with a college-aged cohort is palpable. The books function simultaneously as personal snapshot albums, records of development, and as memoirs. As one-of-a-kind objects, these albums and their contents provide a unique entry point into the field of American military aerial reconnaissance photography at the brink of the United States’ involvement in World War Two. Aerial Reconnaissance photography during the 20th-century was pivotal and perilous. The development of a discipline was critical in the pursuit of gathering wartime intelligence. Swan’s photographic record-keeping mirrors not only the albums and letters of other citizen soldiers, but also of photographic and military leaders such as Captain Edward Steichen, Brigadier General George W. Goddard, and General George Patton. Through a thoroughly illustrated discussion, we explore how such personal, wartime photographic materials deserve preservation and examination, functioning as objects of cultural heritage and offering an intimate, human connection with national and world history.
“A Revolution in Aerial Photography”
Frank Cost, Rochester Institute of Technology
The desire to see the world from above is deeply rooted in human experience. At the beginning of the present decade a breakthrough in technology initiated a new aerial seeing revolution. This was the multi-rotor drone, with four or more rotors, capable of carrying a camera and flying with a precision never before imaginable. Multi-rotor drones have opened up new tracts of airspace for photographic exploration to which no previous technology had such precise and controllable access. For the first time, we are able to place our eyes remotely at any point in the aerial zone lying between the ground and the altitude where conventional airplanes and helicopters can safely fly. This presentation will consider the significance of this latest revolution in aerial photography in the context of the long history of aerial seeing and aerial image-making.
“Newly Revealed: Origin and Early Years of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia and Details of the Philadelphia Photographic Salons"
Clare Flemming, New York State Archives
The Photographic Society of Philadelphia (PSP), founded in 1862 and still extant, is the longest-running photography club in the nation. We review the origin and early decades of the PSP and one of its keystone projects, the annual Philadelphia Photographic Salons of 1898-1901, as revealed through new research on the Society’s original records held at the George Eastman Museum (Rochester, NY). The Salons, established for the purpose of exhibiting “only such pictures produced by photography as may give distinct evidence of individual artistic feeling and execution,” provided the first showing in this country of such photographs: Pictorialism had arrived. Details of each competitive Salon, its judges, its artists, and their work are discussed, gleaned in part from four oversized, vintage, Salon albums in the collection; strong public reaction to Pictorialism is also documented. Each Salon installation was photographed contemporaneously and printed as platinum print photographs, 55 of which are tipped into the Salon albums and remain beautifully preserved. These rarely seen images show the placement and arrangement of photographs among and between all four Salons and are clear enough to identify to photograph. The newly revealed photographs also provide evidence of the practices of matting, framing, and arranging photographs in the U.S. at the turn of the last century. Altogether, the PSP records provide an intimate look at the Society, the history of photography in Philadelphia as-it-happened, early reaction to Pictorialism, and the quotidian trials of photographers in the City of Brotherly Love.
“The Snapshots of A. Thomas Nelson: A Case Study in the Preservation of Early-Twentieth-Century Vernacular Albums”
Stephanie Becker, Case Western Reserve University
Throughout the early twentieth century, A. Thomas Nelson took snapshots while traveling the United States and Canada. His wife Catharine Nelson, made a selection of his snapshots and placed them within eight photographic albums, later acquired by the George Eastman Museum. Using one of the most fragile Nelson albums as a case study, I will explore preservation practices for early-twentieth-century vernacular albums.
Following the invention of the Kodak camera, the world’s very first snapshots began to be produced. These new snapshots would not fit into the existing carte-de-visite albums, and therefore called for a new format – the scrapbook. The albums of this time are significant to the history of photography and provide us a glimpse into the way middle-class Americans traveled, lived, and photographed.
While the albums are a valuable part of any collection, they present many complex preservation challenges due to the variety of materials contained within a single object. This complexity has led to a lack of literature and standards when it comes to preserving albums. I will discuss the differences in how museums, libraries, and archives approach preservation in order to make a preservation plan for the Nelson album. Critical questions on cataloging, digitizing, and re-housing methods will guide decisions on how to stabilize the album’s fragile condition and allow for access. Since this type of vernacular photo album can be found in many institutions, my presentation can be understood as a test case for collection managers and archivists who find themselves caring for similar snapshot albums.
“Reframing the Picture: Mining the Oakland Planning Department’s Photography Collection for Lost Community Narratives on Redevelopment”
Moriah Ulinskas, University of California, Santa Barbara
Like many American cities, the City of Oakland, California embarked upon a massive redevelopment program in the city’s blighted neighborhoods in the 1960s. John B. Williams, head of the Oakland Redevelopment Agency from 1964 to 1976, held degrees in both City Planning and Fine Arts and invested heavily in the power of the image to communicate to city residents issues concerning blighted buildings, relocation plans, and projected neighborhood developments. William’s department included a photographer and a graphic designer who worked in tandem to document neighborhoods slated for redlining- and to present visual materials back to those communities to promote relocation and neighborhood redevelopment projects.
During William’s tenure, Oakland’s downtown was demolished and rebuilt, neighborhoods were replaced with public housing projects, and huge swathes of West Oakland were torn down to make way for highways, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, and a processing station for the U.S. Postal Service. All of these changes were diligently documented, resulting in a photography collection that contains an estimated 4,000 images of Oakland before, during, and after redevelopment.
The collection contains meticulously organized proof sheets, composited images with crop marks and editing notes, as well as final print materials which were circulated throughout the community and published as annual reports. This presentation is a reclamation project: returning to raw source materials (unedited and unused imagery) in an effort to retrieve community narratives which were captured in these photographs, but did not serve the ambitions of the Planning Department at that time.
“Re-interpreting an Unreleased Historical Photo Collection and Sharing Glass Plates Negatives Through New Digital Technologies”
Estelle Sohier, University of Geneva, Switzerland
The Odyssey of Homer is one of the great texts which has sustained the western geographical imaginary. In the history of travels following the traces of Ulysses, the undertaking the photographer, editor and writer Fred Boissonnas (1858-1946) and of the renowned translator of Homer, Victor Bérard, occupies a special place. A pictorialist, Boissonnas was then famous in Europe for his pictures of Greek archeological remains, dance, architecture and landscape, undertook a photographic mission with Bérard across the Mediterranean in 1912, to gather proof, by way of images, that the Homeric poems were not the mere result of imagination, but a genuine "geographic document.” The hypothesis they defended through photography, since refuted, evoked admiration and controversies in Europe until today. This communication will show that the two thousand images created have not been exploited as intended because of the first world war, then of material difficulties, and how unreleased iconographic and written archival documents reveal today the objectives and the depth of their project.In highlighting this important photographic patrimony, we aim to question the ties between travel photography with science and art, and show how images, texts and myths were combined to produce new geographic imaginaries between Europeans and the space of the Mediterranean. Then, we will present a transnational project created to highlight this collection composed of glass plate negatives, by availing of recent technologies in digital imaging and GIS. We draw on their spectacular possibilities to create together a travelling exhibition, an e-book and a collaborative web-site (under construction:http://www.unige.ch/sciences-societe/geo/ulysse/fr/accueil/presentation/
“New Deal Landscapes: Photographing the Tennessee Valley Authority”
Micah Cash, Wingate University
The hydroelectric dams of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) continue to define the landscape and culture of the southern Appalachian United States. The public ownership of these facilities and the vast amounts of surrounding recreational land illustrate the complex narratives of social welfare, ecological sacrifice, personal loss, and cultural and economic benefits. Photographed in the years 2013-2016, my project,, investigates the contemporary landscapes of TVA and explores the visual and social ramifications of the New Deal approach to land management and government responsibility. Published by University of Tennessee Press in 2017, Dangerous Waters: A Photo Essay on the Tennessee Valley Authority captures the dual utilization of space designed for hydroelectric power production and public recreation. Four generations after TVA’s founding, the social uplift of its charter has occasionally devolved into underfunded maintenance and inaccessible space. My paper discusses the challenges of photographing the architecture and surrounding public space of TVA’s hydroelectric dams and my approach to balancing the dueling narratives of government power and public access. I will chronicle the history of this project, from a twenty-image portfolio to a seventy-image book and explain my approach to acknowledging all sides of TVA’s history and its enormous consequence on the people and land of the Tennessee Valley. Does this functioning New Deal program retain relevancy in our charged political climate or is it a relic from another time? That question set me on a path four years ago and Dangerous Waters is my answer.
“From 2D to Video: The Alinari Multimedia Museum in Trieste, Italy”
Andrea de Polo Saibanti, Fratelli Alnari, Italy
Citzens across the globe will take one trillion photos, flooding an already saturated market. Also, there are millions of 19th and 20th century photos preserved in memory institutions worldwide that offer irreplaceable cultural and historical content. Unfortunately, many are not stored digitally, nor publicly shared, and they often lack provenance, documentation and content annotations, hence only the tip of the iceberg can be efficiently accessed, understood, and enjoyed. The Alinari Image Museum, opened beginning Fall 2016 in the city of Trieste, Italy, targets the huge markets that hypermedia has to offer through a deep integration of visual perceptual technologies and machine learning interfaces, to enable anyone to convert their photos into hypermedia. These nonlinear media objects are “semantically connected” to others via semantic overlaps enabling unique exploration.
Hosted by The George Eastman Museum, 900 East Avenue.
Co-sponsored by the William A. Kern Professor in Communications (Jonathan Schroeder) and the Caroline Werner Gannett Endowed Chair (Lisa Hermsen), Rochester Institute of Technology
Sunday, April 22, 2018
Photography dealers and private collectors offer original vintage photography as well as complementary materials including books, ephemera related to photography and vintage photo equipment and accessories.
The antique and vintage photography show and sale takes place on Sunday, April 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Open to the public, admission is $6 payable in cash or check at the entrance. (For those registered for the Conference, admission to the show is included with your registration.)