Lectures 1-5, Addition Readings and readings from Warner Marien, M (2014) Photography: A Cultural History

This is a summary/notes for lectures 1-5, page readings for Lecture Topics from Warner Marien, M (2014) Photography: A Cultural History and Addition Readings from the universities photography theory page.


Lecture 1 – The Inventions of Photography

I really enjoyed the first lecture as it took us on a journey from the birth of photography to what where we are today. It’s strange to think of how fast photography has developed and evolved since it’s a fairly recent invention. It’s gone from camera obscura to small hand held devices to the advanced DSLRs, SLRs and Compact cameras that we know and love today.

Warner Marien, M (2014) Photography: A Cultural History
Pages 9-21 

This starts us off at the beginning, the discovery of “photographies” which is derived from the Greek words light and writings. This was about Antoine Florence and his ideas and attempts to create the a permanent print but after finding out that Daguerre also had the same idea but understood the notion of simultaneous invention and that two or more people can work on the same concept. Another piece within these pages was on The “sun writing” of Niepce, Joseph Nicephore Niepce was another precursor of photography. He was born into a well off family and received a decent education so their was high expectations of him. Niepce was originally working on Lithography which is a technique for reproducing images but then began to experiment with ways to produce an image through the action of light on photosensitive paper. He then created a print from the view of his window which is considered to be worlds first permanent photograph. it then goes on to the political side of invention, An interesting part of this was when Daguerre invited many well known scientists and other pioneers of photography to view Daguerreotype and see how he did it. Obviously there where some who refused like Talbot but still had great interest in his work and even asked another photographer to go and write back to him on what Daguerre was up to. Overall this chapter is all about the origins and the pioneers of photography, its about where it all began and who was the real inventor of photography

Pages 23-29 

This chapter starts off with the second invention, this is about the political and the revolutionary side of photography. In the 1840s photography became the topic in newspapers, magazines and other places of debate and where it was called an “art-science”. This terminology was given because photography is a mix of science and art. People then began to see photography as “science wedded to craft”. I like this term as it credits the science side of photography which is how photography was born and then it also credits that its an art form of its own.

Addition Readings – Charles Baudelaire
‘The Salon of 1859: The Modern Public and Photography’

After reading this excerpt I can’t tell if he’s for or against photography. I didn’t really understand most of it. But there where some parts that caught my attention. According to Charles “the Beautiful is always wonderful, it would be absurd to suppose that what is wonderful is always beautiful”. I think that this is an interesting saying. I don’t necessarily think it is true though. He also believes that art is and only is a reproduction of nature.

Lady Elizabeth Eastlake, ‘Photography’ (1857)

Lecture 2 – Can photography be art? – Naturalism and Pictorialism

I quite enjoyed this lecture as I’m fairly familiar with both Naturalism and pictorialism but it was great to learn more on the subjects. According to Cornelius Jabez Hughes there are three classes of photography – 1. Mechanical photography 2. Art of photography 3. High art photography. Technological and cultural changes sets the stage for the first photography ‘movement’ Pictorialism.

Lecture 3 – The artist with a camera – Eugene Atget

Atget was born in 1857 and was a French commercial photographer. He was involved in the remake of Paris, the project destroyed 20,000 homes and built 30,000 new ones. He did a lot of street photography and liked to photograph the politics of everyday.

Lecture 4 – New and Old worlds – Photography and Modernism

This lecture starts off with the end of pictorialism (1902). Two names caught my eye in this lecture, Paul strand and Alfred Stieglitz. Modernism, self – consciously rejected the past as a model for art of the present. American Modernism otherwise known as Straight photography. Also there’s a group of straight photographers (American Modernism) called f64, Ansel Adams was also part of this group.

Lecture 5 – Postmodernism and Photography – The crisis of the real

For this lecture we started looking at Postmodernism, Modernism is usually between 1870-1970. Modern artist rejected the past methods in favour of developing new forms of experimentation, they also wanted to experiment with new and interesting materials, techniques and theories. Apparently Modernism wasn’t just an art movement as it forever changed the creative arts including architecture and litterateur. Postmodernism removes the boundary between art and everyday life and apparently Postmodernism was influenced the the disillusionment induced by ww2.


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