Martin Patrick explores the ways in which contemporary artists across media continue to reinvent art that straddles both public and private spheres. Examining the impact of various art movements on notions of performance, authorship, and identity, Across the Art/Life Divide argues that the most defining feature of contemporary art is the ongoing interest of artists in the problematic relationship between art and life. Looking at underexamined forms, such as stand-up comedy and sketch shows, alongside more traditional artistic media, he situates the work of a wide range of contemporary artists to ask: To what extent are artists presenting themselves? And does the portrayal of the “self” in art necessarily constitute authenticity? By dissecting the meta-conditions and contexts surrounding the production of art, Across the Art/Life Divide examines how ordinary, everyday life is transformed into art.
Copublished with the Utah State Historical Society. Affiliated with the Utah Division of State History, Utah Department of Heritage & Arts
Andrew J. Russell is primarily known as the man who photographed the famous “East and West Shaking Hands” image of the Golden Spike ceremony on May 10, 1869. He also took nearly one thousand other images that document almost every aspect of the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad. Across the Continent is the most detailed study to date of the life and work of an often-overlooked but prolific artist who contributed immensely not only to documentation of the railroad but also to the nation’s visualization of the American West and, earlier, the Civil War.
The central focus in the book is on the large body of work Russell produced primarily to satisfy the needs of the Union Pacific. Daniel Davis posits that this set of Russell’s photos is best understood not through one or a handful of individual images, but as a photographic archive. Taken as a whole, that archive shows that Russell intended for viewers never to forget who built the Union Pacific. His images celebrate working people—masons working on bridge foundations, freighters and their wagons, surveyors with their transits, engine crews posed on their engines, as well as tracklayers, laborers, cooks, machinists, carpenters, graders, teamsters, and clerks pushing paper.
Russell contributed to a golden age of Western photography that visually introduced the American West to the nation, changing its public image from that of a Great American Desert to a place of apparently unlimited economic potential.
A photo-collage of past and present street visuals in Asia, Aestheticizing Public Space explores the domestic, regional, and global nexus of East Asian cities through their graffiti, street art, and other visual forms in public space. Attempting to unfold the complex positions of these images in the urban spatial politics of their respective regions, Lu Pan explores how graffiti in East Asia reflects the relationship between aesthetics and politics. The book situates itself in a contested dynamic relationship among human bodies, visual modernity, social or moral norms, styles, and historical experiences and narratives. On a broader level, this book aims to shed light on how aesthetics and politics are mobilized in different contested spaces and media forms, in which the producer and the spectator change and exchange their identities.
After the Crisis offers a platform for discussions between some of today’s leading artists, writers, theorists, curators, and historians aimed at questioning the very status of photography today. Contributors come from the realms of critical theory, fiction, performance art, fashion photography, and museums, as well as film and design, and their conversations bring together history and the contemporary. Comparing the current situation of photographic images with the crisis experienced by representation at the time of the birth of photography, they set our relationship with photographic images in the digital era in perspective. Through these discussions, we come to sense the existential burden of being surrounded by images, while also beginning to grasp the historical depth of a questioning of images that started long before the current generation and engages with crucial political and cultural issues of our time.
In 2005, photographer Chris Hondros captured a striking image of a young Iraqi girl in the aftermath of the killing of her parents by American soldiers. The shot stunned the world and has since become iconic—comparable to the infamous photo by Nick Ut of a Vietnamese girl running from a napalm attack. Both images serve as microcosms for their respective conflicts. Afterimages looks at the work of war photographers like Hondros and Ut to understand how photojournalism interacts with the American worldview.
Liam Kennedy here maps the evolving relations between the American way of war and photographic coverage of it. Organized in its first section around key US military actions over the last fifty years, the book then moves on to examine how photographers engaged with these conflicts on wider ethical and political grounds, and finally on to the genre of photojournalism itself. Illustrated throughout with examples of the photographs being considered, Afterimages argues that photographs are important means for critical reflection on war, violence, and human rights. It goes on to analyze the high ethical, sociopolitical, and legalistic value we place on the still image’s ability to bear witness and stimulate action.
A visually rich survey of two hundred years of Alabama fine arts and artists
Alabama artists have been an integral part of the story of the state, reflecting a wide-ranging and multihued sense of place through images of the land and its people. Quilts, pottery, visionary paintings, sculpture, photography, folk art, and abstract art have all contributed to diverse visions of Alabama’s culture and environment. The works of art included in this volume have all emerged from a distinctive milieu that has nourished the creation of powerful visual expressions, statements that are both universal and indigenous.
Published to coincide with the state’s bicentennial, Alabama Creates: 200 Years of Art and Artists features ninety-four of Alabama’s most accomplished, noteworthy, and influential practitioners of the fine arts from 1819 to the present. The book highlights a broad spectrum of artists who worked in the state, from its early days to its current and contemporary scene, exhibiting the full scope and breadth of Alabama art.
This retrospective volume features biographical sketches and representative examples of each artist’s most masterful works. Alabamians like Gay Burke, William Christenberry, Roger Brown, Thornton Dial, Frank Fleming, the Gee’s Bend Quilters, Lonnie Holley, Dale Kennington, Charlie Lucas, Kerry James Marshall, David Parrish, and Bill Traylor are compared and considered with other nationally significant artists.
Alabama Creates is divided into four historical periods, each spanning roughly fifty years and introduced by editor Elliot A. Knight. Knight contextualizes each era with information about the development of Alabama art museums and institutions and the evolution of college and university art departments. The book also contains an overview of the state’s artistic heritage by Gail C. Andrews, director emerita of the Birmingham Museum of Art. Alabama Creates conveys in a sweeping and captivating way the depth of talent, the range of creativity, and the lasting contributions these artists have made to Alabama’s extraordinarily rich visual and artistic heritage.
There’s nothing quite like a relationship with an aged pet—a dog or cat who has been at our side for years, forming an ineffable bond. Pampered pets, however, are a rarity among animals who have been domesticated. Farm animals, for example, are usually slaughtered before their first birthday. We never stop to think about it, but the typical images we see of cows, chickens, pigs, and the like are of young animals. What would we see if they were allowed to grow old?
Isa Leshko shows us, brilliantly, with this collection of portraits. To create these portraits, she spent hours with her subjects, gaining their trust and putting them at ease. The resulting images reveal the unique personality of each animal. It’s impossible to look away from the animals in these images as they unforgettably meet our gaze, simultaneously calm and challenging. In these photographs we see the cumulative effects of the hardships of industrialized farm life, but also the healing that time can bring, and the dignity that can emerge when farm animals are allowed to age on their own terms.
Each portrait is accompanied by a brief biographical note about its subject, and the book is rounded out with essays that explore the history of animal photography, the place of beauty in activist art, and much more. Open this book to any page. Meet Teresa, a thirteen-year-old Yorkshire Pig, or Melvin, an eleven-year-old Angora Goat, or Tom, a seven-year-old Broad Breasted White Turkey. You’ll never forget them.
In 1851, when photographs were first shown at the Great Exhibition of Arts and Industry, photography was primarily a hobby for well-to-do amateurs. These early photographers were members of the intellectual and aristocratic elite. They had the means, the education, and the leisure to pursue this new art-science with ardent seriousness. They formed societies, such as the Photographic Society and the Photographic Exchange Club, and published journals for the purpose of sharing their discoveries, exchanging photographs, and publicizing the medium. In this highly original and sensitive book about the birth and transformation of photography in Victorian England, Grace Seiberling explores the work of thirty-three amateur photographers. She describes how they affected the development of the medium and set technical, subject, and compositional standards for future generations of photographers.
The image of the shadow in mid-twentieth-century America appeared across a variety of genres and media including poetry, pulp fiction, photography, and film. Drawing on an extensive framework that ranges from Cold War cultural histories to theorizations of psychoanalysis and the Gothic, Erik Mortenson argues that shadow imagery in 1950s and 1960s American culture not only reflected the anxiety and ambiguity of the times but also offered an imaginative space for artists to challenge the binary rhetoric associated with the Cold War.
After contextualizing the postwar use of shadow imagery in the wake of the atomic bomb, Ambiguous Borderlands looks at shadows in print works, detailing the reemergence of the pulp fiction crime fighter the Shadow in the late-1950s writings of Sylvia Plath, Amiri Baraka, and Jack Kerouac. Using Freudian and Jungian conceptions of the unconscious, Mortenson then discusses Kerouac’s and Allen Ginsberg’s shared dream of a “shrouded stranger” and how it shaped their Beat aesthetic. Turning to the visual, Mortenson examines the dehumanizing effect of shadow imagery in the Cold War photography of Robert Frank, William Klein, and Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Mortenson concludes with an investigation of the use of chiaroscuro in 1950s film noir and the popular television series The Twilight Zone, further detailing how the complexities of Cold War society were mirrored across these media in the ubiquitous imagery of light and dark.
From comics to movies, Beats to bombs, Ambiguous Borderlands provides a novel understanding of the Cold War cultural context through its analysis of the image of the shadow in midcentury media. Its interdisciplinary approach, ambitious subject matter, and diverse theoretical framing make it essential reading for anyone interested in American literary and popular culture during the fifties and sixties.
Going beyond photography as an isolated medium to engage larger questions and interlocking forms of expression and historical analysis, Ambivalent gathers a new generation of scholars based on the continent to offer an expansive frame for thinking about questions of photography and visibility in Africa. The volume presents African relationships with photography—and with visibility more generally—in ways that engage and disrupt the easy categories and genres that have characterized the field to date. Contributors pose new questions concerning the instability of the identity photograph in South Africa; ethnographic photographs as potential history; humanitarian discourse from the perspective of photographic survivors of atrocity photojournalism; the nuanced passage from studio to screen in postcolonial digital portraiture; and the burgeoning visual activism in West Africa.
As the contributors show, photography is itself a historical subject: it involves arrangement, financing, posture, positioning, and other kinds of work that are otherwise invisible. By moving us outside the frame of the photograph itself, by refusing to accept the photograph as the last word, this book makes photography an engaging and important subject of historical investigation. Ambivalent‘s contributors bring photography into conversation with orality, travel writing, ritual, psychoanalysis, and politics, with new approaches to questions of race, time, and postcolonial and decolonial histories.
Contributors: George Emeka Agbo, Isabelle de Rezende, Jung Ran Forte, Ingrid Masondo, Phindi Mnyaka, Okechukwu Nwafor, Vilho Shigwedha, Napandulwe Shiweda, Drew Thompson
Among Giants: A Life with Whales
Charles "Flip" Nicklin with K. M. Kostyal University of Chicago Press, 2011 Library of Congress QL737.C4N475 2011 | Dewey Decimal 599.5
It all started in 1965 with a guy riding a whale. The guy was Flip Nicklin’s father, Chuck, and the whale was an unlucky Bryde’s Whale that had gotten caught up in some anchor line. Hoping to free the whale, Chuck and some friends took their boat as near as they could, and, just before they cut it loose, Chuck posed astride it for a photo.
That image, carried on wire services nationwide, became a sensation and ultimately changed the life of Chuck’s young son, Flip. In the decades since that day, Flip Nicklin has made himself into the world’s premier cetacean photographer. It’s no exaggeration to say that his photos, published in such venues as National Geographic and distributed worldwide, have virtually defined these graceful, powerful creatures in the mind of the general public—even as they helped open new ground in the field of marine mammalogy.
Among Giants tells the story of Nicklin’s life and career on the high seas, from his first ill-equipped shoots in the mid-1970s through his long association with the National Geographic Society to the present, when he is one of the founders of Whale Trust, a nonprofit conservation and research group. Nicklin is equal parts photographer, adventurer, self-trained scientist, and raconteur, and Among Giants reflects all those sides, matching breathtaking images to firsthand accounts of their making, and highlighting throughout the importance of conservation and new advances in our understanding of whale behavior. With Nicklin as our guide, we see not just whales but also our slowly growing understanding of their hidden lives, as well as the evolution of underwater photography—and the stunning clarity and drama that can be captured when a determined, daring diver is behind the lens.
Humpbacks, narwhals, sperm whales, orcas—these and countless other giants of the ocean parade through these pages, spouting, breaching, singing, and raising their young. Nicklin’s photographs bring us so completely into the underwater world of whales that we can’t help but feel awe, while winning, personal accounts of his adventures remind us of what it’s like to be a lone diver sharing their sea.
For anyone who has marveled at the majesty of whales in the wild, Among Giants is guaranteed to be inspiring, even moving—its unmatched images of these glorious beings an inescapable reminder of our responsibility as stewards of the ocean.
Internationally renowned as an exciting guide to unknown peoples and places, Norwegian Carl Lumholtz was a Victorian-era explorer, anthropologist, natural scientist, writer, and photographer who worked in Australia, Mexico, and Borneo. His photographs of the Tarahumara, Huichol, Cora, Tepehuan, Southern Pima, and Tohono O’odham tribes of Mexico and southwest Arizona were among the very first taken of these cultures and still provide the best photographic record of them at the turn of the twentieth century. Lumholtz published his photographs in several books, including Unknown Mexico and New Trails in Mexico, but, because photographic publishing was then in its infancy, most of the images were poorly printed, badly cropped, or reworked by “illustrators” using crude techniques. Among Unknown Tribes presents more than two hundred of Lumholtz’s best photographs—many never before published—from the archives of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, Norway. The images are newly scanned, most from the original negatives, and printed uncropped, disclosing a wealth of previously hidden detail. Each photograph is fully identified and often amplified by Lumholtz’s own notes and captions. Accompanying the images are essays and photo notes that survey Lumholtz’s career and legacy, as well as what his photographs reveal about the “unknown tribes.” By giving Lumholtz’s photographs the high-quality reproduction they deserve, Among Unknown Tribes honors not only the Norwegian explorer but also the native peoples who continue to struggle for recognition and justice as they actively engage in the traditional customs that Lumholtz recorded.
Photographer and writer Joel Katz presents a pictorial chronicle of his travels through the shifting islands of fear and loss, freedom and deliverance that was segregated Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964
In June 1964, college student Joel Katz boarded a Greyhound bus in Hartford, Connecticut, for Jackson, Mississippi. He carried few possessions—a small bag of clothes, a written invitation to call on Frank Barber, who was special assistant to Governor Paul Johnson, and a Honeywell Pentax H1-A camera with three lenses.
A few days after his arrival in Jackson, the city’s Daily News ran on its front page an FBI alert seeking Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner, three field workers from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) who’d gone missing while investigating a church burning in Neshoba County. In the uneasy silence of their disappearance, Katz began a seven-week journey across the state. Along the way, he met the people of Mississippi, black and white, of all ages and classes, from the humble to the grand. These Mississippians encouraged or obstructed change in their traditional culture or simply observed the edifice of that culture tremble and fall.
During 1964’s Freedom Summer, Katz met ministers making history and journalists writing it. He photographed Martin Luther King Jr. and James Abernathy, taught at a freedom school, interviewed a leader of the White Citizens Councils, was harassed by Jackson police, and escaped death in Vicksburg. Six weeks after Katz arrived in Mississippi, the FBI found the bodies of Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner in an earthen dam.
Inspired by the social documentary photographs of Walker Evans and Robert Frank, Katz snapped hauntingly quotidian photos on his Pentax camera. Amid acts of brutal savagery and transcendent courage that transfixed the nation, Katz discovered resilient individuals living quiet lives worthy of witness. And I Said No Lord is a moving and luminous record of Americans in evolution.
Après la crise établit une plateforme de conversation entre protagonistes de l’art, de l’écriture, de la théorie, de l’exposition, et de l’histoire, afin d’interroger le statut de la photographie aujourd’hui. Les contributeurs viennent des domaines de la théorie critique, de la fiction, de la performance, de la photographie de mode, des musées, du cinéma et du design, et leurs discussions réunissent l’histoire et le contemporain. Ces échanges établissent des parallèles entre la situation actuelle des images photographiques et la crise vécue par la représentation au temps de la naissance de la photographie ; ils mettent en perspective notre relation aux images photographiques à l’ère numérique, et nous permettent de voir en la photographie un médium, une voie pour explorer la politique, l’esthétique, les émotions de nos vies. Au travers de ces conversations vivantes, et des introductions sagaces qui les précèdent, nous en venons à ressentir le fardeau existentiel d’être entouré par des images, tout en commençant à saisir la profondeur historique d’un questionnement des images qui s’ouvrit bien avant la génération actuelle, et qui se confronte aux sujets politiques et culturels cruciaux de notre temps. Avec les contributions de Philippe Artières, Osei Bonsu, Emma Bowkett, Elisabeth Bronfen, Emanuele Coccia, Russell Ferguson, Dominique de Font-Réaulx, Marc Fumaroli, Leigh Ledare, Kieran Long, Roxana Marcoci, Renzo Martens, Paul McCarthy, Tom McCarthy, Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky, ORLAN, Alice Rawsthorn, Jeff Rosenheim, Elisa Schaar, Bruno Serralongue, Devika Singh, Abdellah Taïa, Oliviero Toscani, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Wim Wenders, Richard Wentworth.
Carpeted in boreal forests, dotted with lakes, cut by rivers, and straddling the Arctic Circle, the region surrounding the White Sea, which is known as the Russian North, is sparsely populated and immensely isolated. It is also the home to architectural marvels, as many of the original wooden and brick churches and homes in the region's ancient villages and towns still stand. Featuring nearly two hundred full color photographs of these beautiful centuries-old structures, Architecture at the End of the Earth is the most recent addition to William Craft Brumfield's ongoing project to photographically document all aspects of Russian architecture.
The architectural masterpieces Brumfield photographed are diverse: they range from humble chapels to grand cathedrals, buildings that are either dilapidated or well cared for, and structures repurposed during the Soviet era. Included are onion-domed wooden churches such as the Church of the Dormition, built in 1674 in Varzuga; the massive walled Transfiguration Monastery on Great Solovetsky Island, which dates to the mid-1550s; the Ferapontov-Nativity Monastery's frescoes, painted in 1502 by Dionisy, one of Russia's greatest medieval painters; nineteenth-century log houses, both rustic and ornate; and the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Vologda, which was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in the 1560s. The text that introduces the photographs outlines the region's significance to Russian history and culture.
Brumfield is challenged by the immense difficulty of accessing the Russian North, and recounts traversing sketchy roads, crossing silt-clogged rivers on barges and ferries, improvising travel arrangements, being delayed by severe snowstorms, and seeing the region from the air aboard the small planes he needs to reach remote areas.
The buildings Brumfield photographed, some of which lie in near ruin, are at constant risk due to local indifference and vandalism, a lack of maintenance funds, clumsy restorations, or changes in local and national priorities. Brumfield is concerned with their futures and hopes that the region's beautiful and vulnerable achievements of master Russian carpenters will be preserved. Architecture at the End of the Earth is at once an art book, a travel guide, and a personal document about the discovery of this bleak but beautiful region of Russia that most readers will see here for the first time.
In this widely acclaimed work, James Ackerman considers in detail the buildings designed by Michelangelo in Florence and Rome—including the Medici Chapel, the Farnese Palace, the Basilica of St. Peter, and the Capitoline Hill. He then turns to an examination of the artist's architectural drawings, theory, and practice. As Ackerman points out, Michelangelo worked on many projects started or completed by other architects. Consequently this study provides insights into the achievements of the whole profession during the sixteenth century. The text is supplemented with 140 black-and-white illustrations and is followed by a scholarly catalog of Michelangelo's buildings that discusses chronology, authorship, and condition. For this second edition, Ackerman has made extensive revisions in the catalog to encompass new material that has been published on the subject since 1970.
Mies van der Rohe once commented, “Only skyscrapers under construction reveal their bold constructive thoughts, and then the impression made by their soaring skeletal frames is overwhelming.” Never has this statement resonated more than in recent years, when architectural design has undergone a radical transformation, and when powerful computers allow architects and engineers to design and construct buildings that were impossible just a few years ago. At the same time, what lies underneath these surfaces is more mysterious than ever before.
In Architecture under Construction, photographer Stanley Greenberg explores the anatomy and engineering of some of our most unusual new buildings, helping us to understand our own fascination with what makes buildings stand up, and what makes them fall down. As designs for new constructions are revealed and the public watches closely as architects and engineers challenge each other with provocative new forms and equally audacious ideas, Greenberg captures penetrating images that reveal the complex mystery—and beauty—found in the transitory moments before the skin of a building covers up the structures that hold it together.
Framed by a historical and critical essay by Joseph Rosa and including an afterword by the author, the eighty captivating and thought-provoking images collected here—which focus on some of the most high-profile design projects of the past decade, including buildings designed by Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Steven Holl, Daniel Libeskind, Thom Mayne, and Renzo Piano, among others —are not to be missed by anyone with an eye for the almost invisible mechanisms that continue to define our relationship with the built world.
This alternative study of archive and photography brings many types of image assemblages into view, always in relation to the regulated systems operating within the institutional milieu. The archive catalogue is presented as a critical tool for mapping image time, and the language of image description is seen as having a life, a worth and an aesthetic value of its own. Functioning at the intersection of text and image, the book combines media culture, archival techniques, and contemporary discourse on art and conceptual writing.
Roughly 1.7 million people died in Cambodia from untreated disease, starvation, and execution during the Khmer Rouge reign of less than four years in the late 1970s. The regime’s brutality has come to be symbolized by the multitude of black-and-white mug shots of prisoners taken at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where thousands of “enemies of the state” were tortured before being sent to the Killing Fields. In Archiving the Unspeakable, Michelle Caswell traces the social life of these photographic records through the lens of archival studies and elucidates how, paradoxically, they have become agents of silence and witnessing, human rights and injustice as they are deployed at various moments in time and space. From their creation as Khmer Rouge administrative records to their transformation beginning in 1979 into museum displays, archival collections, and databases, the mug shots are key components in an ongoing drama of unimaginable human suffering.
Winner, Waldo Gifford Leland Award, Society of American Archivists
Longlist, ICAS Book Prize, International Convention of Asia Scholars
One of the important cultural responses to political and sociohistorical events in Latin America is a resurgence of urban photography, which typically blends high art and social documentary. But unlike other forms of cultural production in Latin America, photography has received relatively little sustained critical analysis. This pioneering book offers one of the first in-depth investigations of the complex and extensive history of gendered perspectives in Latin American photography through studies of works from Argentina, Mexico, and Guatemala. David William Foster examines the work of photographers ranging from the internationally acclaimed artists Graciela Iturbide, Pedro Meyer, and Marcos López to significant photographers whose work is largely unknown to English-speaking audiences. He grounds his essays in four interlocking areas of research: the experience of human life in urban environments, the feminist matrix and gendered cultural production, Jewish cultural production, and the ideological principles of cultural works and the connections between the works and the sociopolitical and historical contexts in which they were created. Foster reveals how gender-marked photography has contributed to the discourse surrounding the project of redemocratization in Argentina and Guatemala, as well as how it has illuminated human rights abuses in both countries. He also traces photography’s contributions to the evolution away from the masculinist-dominated post–1910 Revolution ideology in Mexico. This research convincingly demonstrates that Latin American photography merits the high level of respect that is routinely accorded to more canonical forms of cultural production.
The Art of Mechanical Reproduction presents a striking new approach to how traditional art mediums—painting, sculpture, and drawing—changed in the twentieth century in response to photography, film, and other technologies. Countering the modernist view that the medium provides advanced art with “resistance” against technological pressures, Tamara Trodd argues that we should view art and its practices as imaginatively responding to the potential that artists glimpsed in mechanical reproduction, putting art into dialogue with the commercial cultures of its time.
The Art of Mechanical Reproduction weaves a rich history of the experimental networks in which artists as diverse as Paul Klee, Hans Bellmer, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Smithson, Gerhard Richter, Chris Marker, and Tacita Dean have worked, and it shows for the first time how extensively technological innovations of the moment have affected their work. Original and broad-ranging, The Art of Mechanical Reproduction challenges some of the most respected and entrenched criticism of the past several decades—and allows us to think about these artists anew.
"As a stylist, in his descriptions of art and movements and books, Rosenberg has no equal. . . . One is grateful for [this] essay collection. To my mind, his piece on art criticism and the distinction between it and art history is alone worth the price of the book."—Corinne Robins, New York Times Book Review
Darkness has a history and a uniquely modern form. Distinct from night, shadows, and artificial light, “artificial darkness” has been overlooked—until now. In fact, controlled darkness was essential to the rise of photography and cinema, science and spectacle, and a century of advanced art and film. Artificial Darkness is the first book to historicize and theorize this phenomenon and map its applications across a range of media and art forms.
In exploring how artificial darkness shaped modern art, film, and media, Noam M. Elcott addresses seminal and obscure works alongside their sites of production—such as photography darkrooms, film studios, and laboratories—and their sites of reception, including theaters, cinemas, and exhibitions. He argues that artists, scientists, and entertainers like Étienne-Jules Marey, Richard Wagner, Georges Méliès, and Oskar Schlemmer revolutionized not only images but also everything surrounding them: the screen, the darkness, and the experience of bodies and space. At the heart of the book is “the black screen,” a technology of darkness that spawned today’s blue and green screens and has undergirded numerous advanced art and film practices to this day.
Turning familiar art and film narratives on their heads, Artificial Darkness is a revolutionary treatment of an elusive, yet fundamental, aspect of art and media history.
The advent of photography revolutionized perception, making visible what was once impossible to see with the human eye. In At the Edge of Sight, Shawn Michelle Smith engages these dynamics of seeing and not seeing, focusing attention as much on absence as presence, on the invisible as the visible. Exploring the limits of photography and vision, she asks: What fails to register photographically, and what remains beyond the frame? What is hidden by design, and what is obscured by cultural blindness? Smith studies manifestations of photography's brush with the unseen in her own photographic work and across the wide-ranging images of early American photographers, including F. Holland Day, Eadweard Muybridge, Andrew J. Russell, Chansonetta Stanley Emmons, and Augustus Washington. She concludes by showing how concerns raised in the nineteenth century remain pertinent today in the photographs of Abu Ghraib. Ultimately, Smith explores the capacity of photography to reveal what remains beyond the edge of sight.
In northwest Russia, in a small village called Alekhovshchina, Nadia Sablin’s aunts spend the warmer months together in the family home and live as the family has always lived—chopping wood to heat the house, bringing water from the well, planting potatoes, and making their own clothes. Sablin’s lyrical and evocative photographs, taken over seven summers, capture the small details and daily rituals of her aunts’ surprisingly colorful and dreamlike days, taking us not only to another country but to another time. Alevtina and Ludmila, now in their seventies, seem both old and young, as if time itself was as seamless and cyclical as their routines—working on puzzles, sewing curtains, tatting lace, picking berries, repairing fences—and as full of the same subtle mysteries. Sablin collaborated with her aunts to recreate scenes she remembered from her childhood and to make new images of the patterns of their days. In these photographs, Sablin combines observation and invention, biography and autobiography, to tell the stories of her aunts’ life together, and in the process, quilts together a thoughtful meditation on memory, aging, and belonging.