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The Monstrous, the Meaningless, and Margins of Error: Use of Photography in 19th-Century Scientific Representation

Event Details

The Monstrous, the Meaningless, and Margins of Error: Use of Photography in 19th-Century Scientific Representation

Time: October 4, 2010 from 8pm to 9:30pm
Location: Boliou Hall Auditorium, Carleton College
Street: One North College Street
City/Town: Northfield, Minnesota 55057
Website or Map: http://apps.carleton.edu/cale…
Phone: Minnesota 07-222-4000
Event Type: talk
Organized By: Art and Art History Department at Carleton College
Latest Activity: Sep 27, 2010

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Event Description

Josh Ellenbogen, a graduate of the Carleton Class of 1992 and a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, will deliver a lecture on Francis Galton’s photographic work entitled “The Monstrous, the Meaningless, and Margins of Error”.

Ellenbogen will discuss Galton’s adventurous endeavor to capture marginal populations through the photographic medium, and how his projects contributed to a new standard that emerged in the 19th century to redefine what comprised a scientifically adequate photograph. This event is free and open to the public.

As an anthropologist and statistician, Francis Galton embarked on a photographic mission in the late 1870s to produce “portraiture of the invisible.” Instead of making photographs of individual objects or things observable to the eye, Galton aimed to create photographs of ideas and concepts that encompassed all individuals within that class. Fro example, rather than photographing individual criminals or lunatics, he sought to capture images that embraced what it looked like or meant to be “the criminal” or “the lunatic.” This project marked an important change in the medium’s standards for creating a scientifically valid photograph; instead of relying on statistical and mathematical formation to define a photograph’s scientific value, photographers began to view how the image captured non-visible entities as a measure of its scientific credibility.

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