14 episodes

This major international conference was convened by Geraldine Johnson (University of Oxford), Deborah Schultz (Regent's University London), and Costanza Caraffa (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz—Max-Planck-Institut). It is the sixth in the Photo Archives conference series.

This conference took place on April 20–21, 2017.

The conference investigated photographs and photographic archives in relation to notions of place. In this context, place was used to explore both the physical location of a photograph or archive, as well as the place of photography as a discursive practice with regard to its value or significance as a method of viewing and conceiving the world. Photographs are mobile objects that can change their location over time, transported to diverse commercial, artistic, social, academic and scientific locations. The photograph’s physical location thus has an impact upon its value, function and significance; these topics were explored at the conference through a range of archives and across disciplines. How might the mobility of photographs open up thinking about archives and, in turn, classificatory structures in disciplines such as Art History, Archaeology and Anthropology, or in the Sciences? The conference also addressed questions of digital space, which renders the image more readily accessible, but complicates issues relating to location. What is the place, or value, of the photographic archive in the digital age?

It was sponsored by the Kress Foundation, the John Fell Fund and the History Faculty's Sanderson Fund at the University of Oxford, and Christ Church, Oxford.

Photo Archives VI: The Place of Photography Oxford University

    • Education
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This major international conference was convened by Geraldine Johnson (University of Oxford), Deborah Schultz (Regent's University London), and Costanza Caraffa (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz—Max-Planck-Institut). It is the sixth in the Photo Archives conference series.

This conference took place on April 20–21, 2017.

The conference investigated photographs and photographic archives in relation to notions of place. In this context, place was used to explore both the physical location of a photograph or archive, as well as the place of photography as a discursive practice with regard to its value or significance as a method of viewing and conceiving the world. Photographs are mobile objects that can change their location over time, transported to diverse commercial, artistic, social, academic and scientific locations. The photograph’s physical location thus has an impact upon its value, function and significance; these topics were explored at the conference through a range of archives and across disciplines. How might the mobility of photographs open up thinking about archives and, in turn, classificatory structures in disciplines such as Art History, Archaeology and Anthropology, or in the Sciences? The conference also addressed questions of digital space, which renders the image more readily accessible, but complicates issues relating to location. What is the place, or value, of the photographic archive in the digital age?

It was sponsored by the Kress Foundation, the John Fell Fund and the History Faculty's Sanderson Fund at the University of Oxford, and Christ Church, Oxford.

    • video
    Photo Archives VI: The Place of Photography and the Phases of Digitisation

    Photo Archives VI: The Place of Photography and the Phases of Digitisation

    Nina Lager Vestberg (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) discusses the digital condition of photography through a phase model of digitisation. What do we talk about when we talk about digitisation? People working with photographic images tend to understand this concept in different ways, depending on whether they work in museums, archives, the stock photo industry, media outlets, publishing, or education. Photography holds a significant place in all these fields of endeavour, the impact of digitisation has likewise been varied across these different areas. Inspired by the sociologist Roland Robertson’s (1992) attempt at ‘mapping the global condition’ through the development of a ‘minimal phase model of globalisation’, this paper charts the digital condition of photography through a similar phase model of digitisation, in which the ‘place’ of photography is plotted against a set of cultural, social, technological and economic coordinates.

    • 20 min
    • video
    Photo Archives VI: Archive, Exhibition, Book: 'The Family of Man' Reconstituted

    Photo Archives VI: Archive, Exhibition, Book: 'The Family of Man' Reconstituted

    Shamoon Zamir (New York University Abu Dhabi) discusses the 'The Family of Man' exhibition and its related archives. Apart from early reviewers and commentators, everyone who has written on the famous The Family of Man Exhibition has done so without the benefit of having seen it at the Museum of Modern Art in 1955 in its original iteration. The reliance on the book of the exhibition has consequently substituted for the exhibition and greatly distorted our understanding of Edward Steichen’s curatorial design. Shown, according to one count, in more than 40 countries and seen by over 9 million people, The Family of Man was a defining event in the global history of photography. This paper attempts to explore the ways in which the Museum of Modern Art’s archives and the archives of the United States Information Agency help us revise this history and develop new perspectives on Steichen’s exhibition.

    • 26 min
    • video
    Photo Archives VI: Archiving Royal Heirlooms: The publication of the Crown treasures of the Galerie d'Apollon (Louvre) and its materiality

    Photo Archives VI: Archiving Royal Heirlooms: The publication of the Crown treasures of the Galerie d'Apollon (Louvre) and its materiality

    Pascal Griener (University of Neuchatel) discusses photographic reproductions of the French crown jewels made for their auction in 1887. During the second half of the nineteenth century, the royal heirlooms were exhibited in the Galerie d’Apollon in the Louvre. Even after the Third Republic, they remained very popular with the wider public. However, for political reasons, some diamonds from the French crown jewels were auctioned in the Louvre itself in May 1887. This paper analyses the major attempts made to picture these exceptional pieces, and to sell their reproductions in portfolios. The information delivered through these photographs as a group was anything but neutral in this context. The paper aims to reconstruct the functioning of these images within the framework of art history of this time.

    • 22 min
    • video
    Photo Archives VI: From Trash to Treasure: Loss, Value, and the Photo Archive

    Photo Archives VI: From Trash to Treasure: Loss, Value, and the Photo Archive

    Catherine E. Clark (MIT) discusses the life cycle of anonymous photographic archives. This paper examines the trope of ‘trash to treasure’ in the history of photo archives. This paper’s key example is the revaluation and profit generation of an archive of amateur prints and albums collected in the 1980s by a French production company based in Marseille. They were used primarily for a show ‘Souvenirs, souvenirs’ that ran on ARTE in the 1980s. This paper will use this show and its archive to think through the life cycle of similar anonymous photographic archives. It asks: is there anything particularly photographic about trash-treasure narratives? What role does quantity play in producing photographic value? And how do photographs form new, secondary, affective meanings?

    • 23 min
    • video
    Photo Archives VI: Saving Space, Mediating Place: Photography and the Reproduction of Collections and Archives

    Photo Archives VI: Saving Space, Mediating Place: Photography and the Reproduction of Collections and Archives

    Estelle Blaschke (University of Lausanne) discusses the development and growth in use of microfilm during the 1920s and 1930s. The use of photography as a copying machine in libraries and museums started around 1870. While the potential and the advantages of photographic reproduction for copying purposes were already discussed since the early days of photography, the idea and the practice matured during the 1920s and 1930s with the introduction of microfilm. This paper examines the technological developments and the formation of networks of people, research units, associations and public institutions during the 1920s and 1930s that solidified the idea of microfilm as an information technology of the future. The paper will ask how the medium played into the continued expansion and democratization of knowledge.

    • 11 min
    • video
    Photo Archives VI: Photography as Protocol

    Photo Archives VI: Photography as Protocol

    Kelley Wilder (De Montfort University) discusses photography as a scientific protocol This talk examines the idea that photography has entered into the protocols of archive practice, informing and perhaps deforming them beyond recognition. What might a photographic protocol be? And how could an image, a photographic image, act within the confines expected of protocols? The paper explores how photographic practices and the protocols of archiving have come together in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The paper also interrogates how far the idea of photographic protocols can lead to a better understanding of the place of photographs and photographic archives within disciplinary imperatives.

    • 20 min

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