History and Theory of Photography Research Centre – Autumn Term 2019

History and Theory of Photography Research Centre

All events are free and open to all. Feel free to circulate.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019, 6-7:30pm

Andrés Mario Zervigón (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)

Fully Visible and Transparent: Zeiss Anastigmat

Room 106, 46 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

In 1890, the famous Jena Glass Works of Carl Zeiss released the Anastigmat photographic lens. The innovative device advanced a chapter in optical technology that seemed to have progressed automatically in a predetermined manner since the medium’s origins. The new lens offered a consistent field of focus across the photographic plate and corrected for a number of additional aberrations at lower and higher f-stops. But why exactly had Zeiss developed its expensive mechanism and what drove photographers to buy it? This paper suggests that the consistent focus and varied depth of field that the Anastigmat provided were not in and of themselves the desired goals of the improvements, but that they were instead visible signals of a pictorial model that makers and consumers had been seeking since the public introduction of photography in 1839. The goal was a transparent realism that remained stubbornly external to the medium, an illusionistic standard that had largely been mediated by painting since the renaissance and was now apparently possible in photography as well.

Andrés Mario Zervigón is Professor of the History of Photography at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. His scholarship concentrates on the interaction between photographs, film, and fine art, generally focusing on moments in history when these media prove inadequate to their presumed task of representing the visual. Zervigón is author of John Heartfield and the Agitated Image: Photography, Persuasion, and the Rise of Avant-Garde Photomontage (University of Chicago Press, 2012) and Photography and Germany (Reaktion Books, 2017). With Tanya Sheehan he edited Photography and Its Origins (Routledge, 2014), with Sabine Kriebel Photography and Doubt (Routledge 2017), and with Donna Gustafson Subjective-Objective: A Century of Social Photography (Zimmerli Musuem/Hirmer Verlag, 2017). His current book project is Die Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung – The Worker’s Illustrated Magazine, 1921-1938: A History of Germany’s Other Avant-Garde, for which he received a CASVA Senior Fellowship (2013-14). At Rutgers Zervigón leads The Developing Room, an academic working group that promotes interdisciplinary dialogue on photography’s history, theory and practice.

Monday 25 November 2019, 2-4pm

Launch of Special Issue of Memory Studies

Ottoman Transcultural Memories

Keynes Library, 46 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

Edited by Gabriel Koureas (Birkbeck), Jay Prosser (University of Leeds), Colette Wilson (Birkbeck), Leslie Hakim-Dowek (University of Portsmouth). With contributions from: Gabriel Koureas, Jay Prosser, Colette Wilson, Jacob Olley, Nora Lessersohn, Claudia Roden, Aikaterini Gegisian, Leslie Hakim- Dowek, Alev Adil and Suna Alan.

We would be delighted if you could join us to celebrate the launch of the special issue of Memory Studies which resulted from the AHRC funded project ‘Ottoman Pasts, Present Cities: Cosmopolitanism and Transcultural Memories’. Short presentation of the projection with Q&A will be followed by drinks reception.

Monday 9 December 2019, 6-7:30pm

Charlene Heath (Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto, Canada)

To Circulate and Disperse: Jo Spence, Terry Dennett and a Still Moving Archive

Room 106, 46 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

There are over one-hundred high quality colour photocopies, home computer printouts, and digital files of British photographer Jo Spence’s work held in the collection at the Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) in Toronto, Canada – the largest repository of her memorial archive. Spence (British, 1934–1992) was a radical London-based activist, socialist-feminist photographer, writer, educator and collaborator whose photographic practice challenged the art world and museum’s fetishizing photographs through conventions such as limited edition prints as collector’s items. Together with one of her primary collaborators, Terry Dennett (British, 1938–2018), Spence founded Photography Workshop in 1974, an alternative archive, research hub and resource centre that grew out of their dissatisfaction with current modernist trends in British photography and desire to contribute towards social change. Easily made and inexpensive, I argue that unlike many of Spence’s ‘vintage’ works now subject to the contemporary art market, the RIC’s photocopies, print-outs and digital surrogates, are a continued manifestation of Spence and Dennett’s political project of prioritizing dissemination and the rhetoric of their photographic messages over and above all else.

Charlene Heath is Archives Assistant at the Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) in Toronto, Canada and a doctoral candidate in the joint program in Communication and Culture at Ryerson/York University in Toronto. She holds a BFA in Photography from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and a MA in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson University in collaboration with the Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, USA. She has written reviews and articles for BlackFlash Magazine, Photography & Culture, Aperture Blog, Revue d’art canadienne/Canadian Art Review (RACER) (forthcoming), and Transbordeur photographie (forthcoming). Through an analysis of the now dispersed Jo Spence Memorial Archive, her forthcoming dissertation considers the enduring legacy of political photographic practice in Britain in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Wednesday 11 December 2019, 6-7:30pm

Milene Trindade (University of Évora, Portugal)

Photographic Ex-votos: Images as a votive offering in the Alentejo region of Portugal

Room 106, 46 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

In the 19th and 20th centuries, countless numbers of photographs were offered and displayed on the walls of churches, forming collections that represent local culture and devotion, as well as the history of photography. The research aims to develop our understanding of the cultural heritage value of these collections and the need for their preservation by proposing a guidance strategy for exhibition and safeguarding.

Milene Trindade (University of Évora) is a PhD student in History of Art writing her dissertation on photographic votive offerings placed in shrines in the south of Portugal. The project’s title is ‘Devotion, Art and Technique: Photographic Ex-votos in Alentejo Region from XIX to XX Century’, and it is being supported by the Portuguese National Funding Agency for Science, Research and Technology (FCT).

Friday 13 December 2019, 10-5pm

Photography, Space & Violence: a Workshop

The Cinema, Birkbeck College, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

This workshop is focused on photography as a tool for representing places where routine or traumatic violence unfolded. Primarily aimed at post-graduate students, it may be of interest to others. Four programmed talks will be mixed with shorter student presentations from research in progress.

10:00am-1:00pm:

Claire Zimmerman (University of Michigan)

Anticipating images: under construction in Buffalo, 1943-1906

Black and white construction photography of industrial architecture in Buffalo provides an untapped archive of historical information about one of the earliest centres of mechanised industry in the United States. Copious site photography provided a new supervisory tool for architects in the first few decades of the twentieth century, showing scientific management as it entered architectural production, and documenting the routine “violence” of Fordist labour in advance of its unfolding.

Claire Zimmerman is associate professor of architecture and history of art at the University of Michigan. She has published widely on architecture and curated several exhibitions. This term Claire is Birkbeck Institute of the Humanities visiting fellow.

Alberto Toscano (Goldsmith, University of London)

The Quantities of the Past: Photography in the Aftermath of Capital

Reflecting on three recent books of American landscape photography – Richard Misrach and Kate Orff’s Petrochmical America; Mitch Epstein’s American Power; and David Maisal’s Black Maps: American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime – this presentation considers environmental devastation in the light of Frederic Jameson’s arguments about ‘dead labour’ in his 2011 book Representing Capital.

Alberto Toscano is Reader in Critical Theory & Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Theory at Goldsmiths. Since 2004 he has been a member of the editorial board for the journal Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory and is series editor of The Italian List for Seagull Books. A translator of Negri, Badiou and others, Toscano has published widely on critical theory, politics and culture.

+ Student presentations

2:00pm-5:00pm:

Sean Willcock (Birkbeck, University of London)

Photography and the Spaces of Insurgency in British India

Photographs of atrocity sites were a staple of colonial photography in British India.  The aesthetic conventions of the genre shaped the physical and affective engagements of both coloniser and colonised with the spaces of violence. This talk considers how such photography addressed the fraught questions of guilt and retribution that were raised by atrocity sites and their associated politics of mourning.

Sean Willcock is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Art History at Birkbeck and writes on photography in Colonial India.

Steve Edwards (Birkbeck, University of London)

Poignant Spaces in Contemporary Photography

Many contemporary photographers have produced projects that depict the empty sites of former violence, notably the abandoned headquarters of the Stasi in Berlin. Beginning from the films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièlle Huillet, this talk considers photographs as or at ‘the scene of a crime’.

Steve Edwards is Professor of History and Theory of Photography at Birkbeck and Co-Director of the Research Centre for History and Theory of Photography. He has published widely on photography and other things and is an editor of Oxford Art Journal and for the Historical Materialism Book Series.

+ Student presentations.

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History and Theory of Photography Research Centre presents Pete James and Mat Collishaw Thresholds: Seeing the Past Through the Future – Friday 5 May 2017

History and Theory of Photography Research Centre

New Event in May

Free and open to all, at 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

Friday 5 May 2017, 6:00-7:30

Room B04

Pete James & Mat Collishaw

Thresholds: Seeing the Past Through the Future

A collaboration with Vasari Research Centre for Art and Technology.

photo

In 1839 WHF Talbot exhibited an extensive selection of his new photogenic drawings at the Birmingham meeting of the Association for the Advancement for Science. In a time of disturbance, this important event took place in King Edward’s School on New Street, a major work of Neo-Gothic architecture by Charles Barry, which was demolished in the 1930s.

Pete James (former Curator of Photography Collections at Birmingham Library) and acclaimed artist Mat Collishaw will talk about their innovative research project that recreates the exhibition and space as a Virtual Environment. Their exhibition Thresholds opens in London on May 17th; here they offer a preview.

 

 

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History and Theory of Photography Research Centre Autumn 2016 Events

History and Theory of Photography Research Centre Autumn 2016

Free and open to all, at 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

This autumn we welcome to Birkbeck Professor Steve Edwards, who will also be joining the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre, and look forward to two seminars on illustrated magazines:

Monday 24 October, 6:00-7:30pm

Room 106 (was 112)

Tim Satterthwaite (Visiting Lecturer, University of Brighton)

Spiritualising the machine: the modernist photography of UHU magazine

The photo-illustrated monthly UHU was at the heart of the progressive photographic culture of Weimar Germany. In a stream of articles and photo-pages in the late 1920s, UHU showcased the work of modernist photographers, such as Albert Renger-Patzsch and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, alongside the radical new perspectives of scientific and aerial photography. UHU’s modernism offered more, however, than a simple embrace of technological modernity; like the great photographic exhibitions of the period, the magazine sought a reconciliation between the rationalising forces of the machine age and the organic principles of the natural world and traditional life. This talk describes how UHU’s modernist synthesis was expressed through a unifying aesthetic of repetition and regularity. The magazine’s photographs of microscopic plant forms, aerial landscapes, and the textures of urban life, were symbolic of alternative visions of social order – the organic or technocratic principles of an ideal future society.

Wednesday 16 November, 6:00-7:30pm

Room 116 (was 112)

Samuel Bibby (Association of Art Historians)

‘New! Art… Plus Added Social Purpose’: BLOCK and the Periodical Landscape of 1970s British Art History

Dates for next term:

Thursday 2 February 2017, 6:00-7:30pm

Marcia Pointon (Professor Emeritus in History of Art, University of Manchester, and Research Fellow, Courtauld Institute of Art)

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Marta Weiss, with Colin Ford: ‘Julia Margaret Cameron: New Discoveries’, 26 Jan 2016

‘Julia Margaret Cameron: New Discoveries’

Marta Weiss (Victoria & Albert Museum)

Responding: Colin Ford (Former head of the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford)

When: Tuesday 26 January 2016, 6:00 – 8:00pm

Where: Keynes Library, Birkbeck School of Arts, 46 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

This seminar will explore the new material Martha Weiss discovered while researching the current must-see exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, marking the bicentenary of the birth of Julia Margaret Cameron, 150 years after she first exhibited her work there. Colin Ford has worked extensively on this important photographer, most notably in the comprehensive catalogue Julia Margaret Cameron: Complete Photos (Getty, 2002).

This event is presented in collaboration between the Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies and the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre.

The session is free and all are welcome, but since the venue has limited space it will be first come, first seated.

Learn more about the Julia Margaret Cameron Exhibition at the V & A here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/julia-margaret-cameron/about-the-exhibition/

Download Julia Margaret Cameron: Complete Photos (Getty, 2002) here: http://www.getty.edu/publications/virtuallibrary/0892366818.html

For further information on the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre, see: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/arts/research/photography

For further information on the Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, see: http://www.cncs.bbk.ac.uk/

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History and Theory of Photography Research Centre – Forthcoming Events 2015-16

History and Theory of Photography Research Centre – Forthcoming Events

Free and open to all, at 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

Friday 27 November 2015 – 6-7:30

Room 112

Thomas Galifot (Musèe d’Orsay)

About (Some) Women Photographers 1839-1919

Detail from Julia Margaret Cameron Mrs Herbert Duckworth April 12, 1867 (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Relying on the histories of photography that have been re-evaluating, over the last forty years, women’s role in the development of the medium, the exhibition now on view at the musée de l’Orangerie is the first, in France, to approach the first eighty years of this phenomenon. Based on new research, it is also the first extensive study of French women photographers of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries. Forgotten or unknown talents are brought to the light of the exhibition walls next to their counterparts from Britain, where amateur and professional women’s camera work attained unparalleled levels of achievement and variety. This talk will give some keys to understand the disparities in the development of women’s photography in the different countries. It will also highlight previously unpublished or little-known photographs that help appreciate how a practice that has long borne the hall-mark of femininity actually revealed itself to be a potential vehicle for subversion and emancipation.

Tuesday 26 January 2016 – 6-8

Marta Weiss (Victoria and Albert Museum)

Julia Margaret Cameron: New Discoveries

Responding: Colin Ford (Founding Head, National Museum of Photography, Film and Television [now National Media Museum] Bradford)

Wednesday 17 February 2016 – 6-7:30

Linda Mulcahy (London School of Economics)

Docile Suffragettes? Resistance to Police Photography

Wednesday 9 March 2016 – 6-7:30

Jennifer Tucker (Wesleyan University & Birkbeck Institute for Humanities Visiting Fellow)

Picturing Modernization: Vision, Modernity and the Technological Image in Humphrey Jenning’s Pandaemonium

Saturday 2 July 2016 times and location TBC

Workshop

Law and Photography

In collaboration with London School of Economics

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