British photographic history

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Seminars: History and Theory of Photography Research Centre - Summer programme

Birkbeck's History and Theory of Photography Research Centre has announced its summer programme which starts with Mirjam Brusius discussing William Henry Fox Talbot. The seminars are all free and open to anyone. 

Wednesday 8 May 2019, 6-7:30pm

Room 114 (Keynes Library), 46 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

Mirjam Brusius (German Historical Institute, London)

The Spaces of Photography. Five New Arguments on William Henry Fox Talbot

William Henry Fox Talbot had to be excavated. In October 1966 digs began on the grounds of Lacock Abbey in the hope of uncovering relics of the Victorian gentleman of science, antiquarian, and inventor of the calotype. In the following decades Talbot became well known as a major protagonist in early Fine Art photography, yet his papers suggest that he was more concerned with the sciences than ‘high art’ in the strictest sense. This is echoed in the large bulk of photo archives that derive from the medium’s industrial and scientific applications or vernacular genres, in which aesthetics only appears as a single piece in a puzzle. So, who or what ‘turned’ Talbot into an artist? Taking material and archival practices as a starting point, Mirjam Brusius will give insight into the book project she is about to complete. The paper argues that not only the actual photographs and the complex practices surrounding them but also their detachments from their original archival context, and their dispersal between different institutions, museums and the art market determine the framework for the study of Talbot, and that of the history of photography itself.


Friday 14 June 2019, 6-7:30pm

Room 106, 46 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

Maki Fukuoka (School of Fine Art, Art History & Cultural Studies, University of Leeds)

Finding the Task of Representation in the Works of Yokoyama Matsusaburo

Yokoyama Matsusaburo (1838-1884) is noted as one of the pioneers of photography in Japan. His commercial, technical, and educational investment in photography paved ways for the second generation of photographers in the capital of Tokyo. This talk situates his pursuit of shashin aburae (a combination of photography/oil painting) and photolithography in the context of dynamic and shifting landscape of reproductive technologies in nineteenth-century Japan. Specifically, it wants to ask, how and to what extent Yokoyama's ideas for reproduction are couched in his concern for individuality.  

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