New in Print

PHOTOGRAPHY

EXHIBITION

Acting Out: Cabinet Cards and the Making of Modern Photography

by John Rohrbach (Editor), Erin Pauwels (Contributor), Britt Salvesen (Contributor), Fernanda Valverde (Contributor)

Cabinet cards were America’s main format for photographic portraiture throughout the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Standardized at 6½ x 4¼ inches, they were just large enough to reveal extensive detail, leading to the incorporation of elaborate poses, backdrops, and props. Inexpensive and sold by the dozen, they transformed getting one’s portrait made from a formal event taken up once or twice in a lifetime into a commonplace practice shared with friends.  The cards reinforced middle-class Americans’ sense of family. They allowed people to show off their material achievements and comforts, and the best cards projected an informal immediacy that encouraged viewers to feel emotionally connected with those portrayed. The experience even led sitters to act out before the camera. By making photographs an easygoing fact of life, the cards forecast the snapshot and today’s ubiquitous photo sharing.  Organized by senior curator John Rohrbach, Acting Out is the first ever in-depth examination of the cabinet card phenomena. Full-color plates include over 100 cards at full size, providing a highly entertaining collection of these early versions of the selfie and ultimately demonstrating how cabinet cards made photography modern.

Hardcover, 232 pages – University of California Press – June 2020 – $45

HISTORY/ TECHNIQUE

Calotype or Paper Negatives: Historical and Alternative Photography 

by Peter Mrhar

The book Calotype or Paper Negatives in the Historical and Alternative Photography series takes the reader into the first decades after the birth of photography. The daguerreotype had already wholly conquered the world, and Talbot’s paper negatives only became more popular after the introduction of various changes. But it was only with the improvements of different French photographers that the paper negatives reached their peak. In this book, we describe these most popular and reliable methods. Thus, the reader will gradually learn all the details of making paper negatives following the procedures of Guillot-Saguez, Le Gray, Greenlaw, and Pelegry. We also mentioned some old and new variants, we devoted a lot of space to solving problems and producing positive images. I have also presented various operations in making paper negatives in the videos found on my YouTube channel.

Paperback, 164 pages – Independently published – April 2020 – $31 – Available at amazon.com

HISTORY

The Decisive Network: Magnum Photos and the Postwar Image Market 

by Nadya Bair

Since its founding in 1947, the legendary Magnum Photos agency has been telling its own story about photographers who were witnesses to history and artists on the hunt for decisive moments. Based on unprecedented archival research, The Decisive Network unravels Magnum’s mythologies to offer a new history of what it meant to shoot, edit, and sell news images after World War II.
 
Nadya Bair shows that between the 1940s and 1960s, Magnum expanded the human-interest story to global dimensions while bringing the aesthetic of news pictures into new markets. Working with a vast range of editorial and corporate clients, Magnum made photojournalism integral to postwar visual culture. But its photographers could not have done this alone. By unpacking the collaborative nature of photojournalism, this book shows how picture editors, sales agents, spouses, and publishers helped Magnum photographers succeed in their assignments and achieve fame. Bair concludes in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when changing market conditions led Magnum to consolidate its brand. In that moment, Magnum’s photojournalists became artists and their assignments oeuvres. Bridging art history, media studies, cultural history, and the history of communication, The Decisive Network transforms our understanding of the photographic profession and the global circulation of images in the pre-digital world.

Hardcover, 336 pages – University of California Press – July 2020 – $49.95

Polaroid Now: The History and Future of Polaroid Photography

Polaroid Then and Now celebrates the history and evolution of the first and foremost instant imaging camera system.  Featuring both vintage and current Polaroid photography, this book covers iconic midcentury photographers and artists, as well as contemporary creatives.  A foreword by Matthew Antezzo, Polaroid Art and Culture Director, provides both an historical account and a visionary view forward of the creative possibilities with the revered brand.  An artist index features thumbnail images of every photograph included in the book along with the name of the artist, the location, date, and the specific Polaroid camera and film stock used.  The cover of the book features the original 1960s packaging design by renowned graphic designer Paul Giambarba.  This officially licensed partnership with the world-renowned Polaroid brand is the most comprehensive book published on Polaroid to date, showcasing the work of hundreds of photographers from all over the world.

Hardcover, 400 pages – Chronicle Chroma – August 2020 – Available from Chronicle Books

FINE ARTS, PRINTS, & GRAPHIC ARTS

HISTORY

This is What Democracy Looked Like: A Visual History of the Printed Ballot

By Alicia Yin Cheng

This Is What Democracy Looked Like, the first illustrated history of printed ballot design, illuminates the noble but often flawed process at the heart of our democracy. An exploration and celebration of US ballots from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this visual history reveals unregulated, outlandish, and, at times, absurd designs that reflect the explosive growth and changing face of the voting public. The ballots offer insight into a pivotal time in American history—a period of tectonic shifts in the electoral system—fraught with electoral fraud, disenfranchisement, scams, and skullduggery, as parties printed their own tickets and voters risked their lives going to the polls.

Alicia Yin Cheng is a founding partner of MGMT. design in Brooklyn, New York. She currently serves as an external critic for the MFA program at the Rhode Island School of Design and has taught at Yale University, Maryland Institute College of Art, Barnard College, and Cooper Union.

Hardcover, 176 pages – Princeton Architectural Press – June 2020 – $29.95

CRITIQUE

True Grit: American Prints from 1900 to 1950

By Stephanie Schrader, James Glisson, and Alexander Nemerov

In the first half of the twentieth century, a group of American artists influenced by the painter and teacher Robert Henri aimed to reject the pretenses of academic fine art and polite society. Embracing the democratic inclusiveness of the Progressive movement, these artists turned to making prints, which were relatively inexpensive to produce and easy to distribute. For their subject matter, the artists mined the bustling activity and stark realities of the urban centers in which they lived and worked…

True Grit examines a rich selection of prints by well-known figures like George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Joseph Pennell, and John Sloan as well as lesser-known artists such as Ida Abelman, Peggy Bacon, Miguel Covarrubias, and Mabel Dwight. Written by three scholars of printmaking and American art, the essays present nuanced discussions of gender, class, literature, and politics, contextualizing the prints in the rapidly changing milieu of the first decades of twentieth-century America.

Hardcover, 112 pages – Getty Publications – 2019 – $35

AUDIO VISUAL

PRACTICE

The Palgrave Handbook of Audiovisual Translation and Media Accessibility

By Łukasz Bogucki (Editor), Mikołaj Deckert (Editor)

This handbook is a comprehensive and up-to-date resource covering the booming field of Audiovisual Translation (AVT) and Media Accessibility (MA). Bringing together an international team of renowned scholars in the field of translation studies, the handbook surveys the state of the discipline, consolidates existing knowledge, explores avenues for future research and development, and also examines methodological and ethical concerns. This handbook will be a valuable resource for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, early-stage researchers but also experienced scholars working in translation studies, communication studies, media studies, linguistics, cultural studies and foreign language education.

Hardcover, 759 pages – Palgrave Macmillan – July 2020 – $219.99 – Available from amazon.com

Book Reviews

FELIX THÜRLEMANN. MORE THAN ONE PICTURE: AN ART HISTORY OF THE HYPERIMAGE

Getty Research Institute, 2019

Reviewed by Sharon Mizota

I was excited to read More Than One Picture: An Art History of the Hyperimage by Swiss art historian Felix Thürlemann. I hoped it would provide much-needed background for the unexpected, non-linear ways in which we consume images today. 

Thürlemann defines “hyperimage” as a presentation of multiple, discreet images whose arrangement and juxtaposition create meaning. A hyperimage could be a museum exhibition, an art history lecture, or a book, but I was disappointed to discover that it does not apply (despite its tech-y sounding name), to the glut of imagery found on the Internet. Nor does it exist outside of Western European art history. The book is an informative, and at times insightful “compare and contrast” exercise familiar to most art history students, but it is a missed opportunity to make connections outside of its own discipline. For our “hyper” connected world, it’s exceedingly timid.

The book is divided into three sections, each focusing on a different type of hyperimage creator: collectors, curators, and artists. Each section is further divided into three case studies looking at specific hyperimages. All are arranged more or less chronologically, starting with 17th century salon-style hangings descended from the cabinet of curiosities, to early installations in the Louvre Museum, to more adventurous efforts by German art historian Aby Warburg and French writer André Malraux that incorporate non-Western images (and also reflect the imperialist and colonialist attitudes of their time and place). The final section is devoted to the artworks and reproductions that Pablo Picasso and Pierre Bonnard displayed on their studio walls to situate their own practices in a broader context. It ends with a look at the work of contemporary German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, whose output consists mostly of hyperimages.

Throughout, Thürlemann emphasizes how these varied creators arranged visual relationships for two main purposes: to distinguish different styles of art, and to compare works with similar iconography. German art historian Heinrich Wölfflin compared and contrasted nudes in Renaissance and Baroque styles to identify their aesthetic and formal differences. 18th century collector Johann Valentin Prehn arranged his remarkable collection of miniature oil paintings according to the “pendant” system in which pairs of images with similar subjects flank a central image, much like an altarpiece. Even Thürlemann’s reading of contemporary artist Tillmans reifies the main genres of Western photography: portrait, landscape, still life, and abstraction. This fixation with style and iconography, while certainly accurate with regard to art history, neglects other forms of hyperimage construction, such as 20th century exhibitions organized around the cultural, geographic, or racial backgrounds of the artists, or by tracing personal or professional relationships among them. 

Thürlemann’s desire to restrict his study to well-trod, Western European art historical ground is understandable. It’s no longer responsible or desirable to make grand, sweeping claims about the world. It’s too vast and chaotic, and it now seems like sheer folly to think that any one person or work could responsibly encompass all of human creation. Still, the idea of the hyperimage, as a structure that allows for relationship building, is tantalizing. I wish Thürlemann had at least gestured toward some of its broader implications for our current global context.

Still, More Than One Picture might be an illuminating read for archivists interested in the history of collecting and art historical pedagogy in Western Europe, or for museum curators responsible for the creation, presentation, and interpretation of hyperimages. For archivists, its careful analysis of creators’ intentions reinforces a bedrock concept, “respect des fonds.” Context matters.

Although it doesn’t address archival practice explicitly, the book hints at the meanings created or sundered by archival arrangement. It might make you think twice before separating images that seem to have little or no relation to each other. It might also make you question the traditional categories and criteria used to arrange and describe collections. They are also part of a long history of totalizing impulses, and may no longer serve or reflect the global, interconnected, multivalent world we live in now.


SIMON FERDINAND. MAPPING BEYOND MEASURE: ART, CARTOGRAPHY, AND THE SPACE OF GLOBAL MODERNITY

University of Nebraska Press, 2019

Reviewed by Mott Linn, CA, Los Alamos National Laboratory 

At a previous job, I oversaw both that university’s map library and the archives and special collections unit, which included a collection of artist books.  Both of these experiences helped inform this review of Mapping Beyond Measure: Art, Cartography, and the Space of Global Modernity.  Clearly, the maps are pertinent to Ferdinand’s work; however, the artist books are closer to what this book discusses.  You can think of the materials that the book is about as being “artist maps” (what Ferdinand refers to as “map art”), although he also includes more common types of art, such as paintings, that include a map.  

For those unfamiliar with artist books, they are when an artist takes a book and transforms it into art or makes art that takes the form of a book.  A well-known example is A Humument; you can see a few of its pages here: http://www.tomphillips.co.uk/humument/slideshow/1-50.  Consequently, one can think of map art as when an artist takes a map and transforms it into art or makes art that takes the form of a map.

As Ferdinand states, “This book is devoted to artistic experiments with cartography” and that the premise of the book is “that map art is especially well placed to explore themes of global modernity.”  Although much of the art he considers is two-dimensional, that is not solely the case.  For example, the last chapter is about a film and elsewhere he considers collages and walking performances.  Ferdinand, who is a lecturer in literary and cultural analysis at the University of Amsterdam, also discusses the changes that have taken place over time in the field of cartography, from the handmade maps of decades ago to the current use of GIS software. 

One of the strengths of this book is its scope: the author covers artists from around the world and art works spanning many decades. The book also features a lengthy bibliography, numerous footnotes, and an ample index.

Considering that colorful maps/artwork is what this book is all about, it is most disappointing that the illustrations are relatively small and in grayscale.  It would be very valuable for the readers to be able to judge for themselves what Ferdinand is writing about.  Although one cannot expect the format of the book to allow for full-sized illustrations of the works being discussed, it would have been nice if the publisher would have used a format larger than 6” x 9”.  Likewise, although having the images next to the text that is discussing them is optimal, having all of the images in one gathering would allow for color versions of the maps without significantly increasing the cost of the book.

Some will certainly like this theoretical book, although I prefer looking at the more traditional maps that I use to decorate the walls of two of the rooms of my home.  As the old saying states, “to each his own.”

The Story Behind the Photo

N.53.17.520 From the Albert Barden Photograph Collection, North Carolina State Archives; Raleigh, NC.

A group of men and women pose with yo-yos on the steps of City Hall in Raleigh, NC around 1930. Among them? Pedro Flores, the Filipino immigrant responsible for the revival of the yo-yo. He’s second from the left, closest to the camera.

Many people associate the yo-yo with the 1940s and 50s, but it’s been around much longer. In fact, the oldest-known reference dates to a painted Greek vase in 500 B.C. The image—a boy with his arm extended, his hand gripping a string with a dangling round object near his feet. This visage is about as anachronistic as, say, Bart Simpson donning a tunic.

But back to Flores: Although he never claimed to be the inventor of the yo-yo, he did own the patent for a modernized version. In 1928, he began manufacturing and marketing the toys. Months later, factories were up and running, churning out hundreds of thousands of yo-yos every day. Competitions happened all over the country, many featuring Flores himself.

In late 1929, Donald Duncan bought the Flores Corporation. So, only a month after the 1929 stock market crash, Flores found himself flush with money. This new wealth enabled him to concentrate on what he loved to do—promoting the yo-yo and attending contests for it. This photograph was probably taken as he passed through Raleigh on one of his yo-yo competition tours. The faces in the group stare forward, alight with the novelty and frivolity of this little toy during a heavy time of unrest and worry.

In closing, here’s a bit of yo-yo press published in The Raleigh News & Observer‘s “Views and Observations” section in October 1929.

“I ain’t exactly intolerant,” declared Tom Robertson of Chatham County, “and I take considerable pride in the fact that I’ve learned to pass a grown man wearing short pants without even turning my head, much less insulting him, but this here Yo-Yo business is just a little too much for me. I’m gettin’ afraid to come to Raleigh any more for fear my pent-up passions will bust loose and cause me to kick the daylights out of the next so-called citizen I see spinnin’ one of them little tops. I’m a lifelong democrat and up till now I never doubted my democracy but darned if I believe that a 21-year-old person who plays with one of them things in public has got any business being allowed to vote. And besides, I can’t get the hang of the dang things, anyhow.”

Ian F. G. Dunn

Processing Archivist

State Archives of North Carolina

Where Was That Taken?: Using Google to Geolocate Photographs

While photographs are not our main medium at The Center for American War Letters Archives, we do receive tons, mostly from the First and Second World Wars. At times these photos have labelsthat brilliantly aid researchers in understanding the images and the experiences of the soldiers depicted. Often, however, the photographs exist in sleeves or with the letters they were sent with, and have no label written on the back, and no real context included. We can, at times, geolocate these photographs using the correspondence or service history of the soldier in question, but censorship and vagueness in their writing or other documents can make this very difficult. That is not to mention a lack of knowledge of every individual town or village in France, for example, let alone the changes of these places over time. That is where the fun part begins and an educational opportunity opens up for students and researchers using a unique method. 

We discovered that Google Earth’s 3D function allowed us to geolocate photographs—identifying not only the city or town shown,, but the exact vantage point of the photographer. Using correspondence, or if lucky, using labels, we can determine a general location where a soldier might have been, and then use the image to pinpoint landmarks, buildings, rivers, mountains, etc. Using Google Earth, we can zoom in and out, reposition the camera angle, and determine precise landmarks.

Courtesy of the Center for American War Letters Archives (2019-060-w-r Unknown sailor First World War photo album).

One example shows the town of Bordeaux, France. The photograph, taken during the First World War by an unknown sailor, is part of a larger photo album of hundreds of landscapes, cityscapes, and people. The sailor attempted to order the photographs in chronological bunches, but not in any complete, linear fashion, as evidenced by repeating locations and events at different spaces in the album. This photo contains some labeling, but I was curious as I was processing the collection about how the photographer captured the picture from that height. What was he doing there? 

Copyright Google, Imagery 2020 and TerraMetrics, Map data 2020.

Using Google Earth’s 3D feature to search the city of Bordeaux,  I was able to find certain landmarks, such as the spire in the middle of the frame. Once I located this spire, it was a matter of getting it to match the photo and the surrounding buildings. What I found was that the photo had much to do with bell towers. This view overlooks the Grosse Cloche bell tower over an 18th century jail attached to Saint Eloi Church. The spire in the frame was the bell tower of the Saint Michael Basilica (Fléche Basilique Saint-Michel). From analyzing the Google Earth 3D view, I found that this photograph must have been taken from the top of the Tour Pey Berland, a gothic bell tower situated beside the eleventh century Cathédrale Saint-André. 

A Google search of Tour Pey Berland easily found a modern day replica of this very angle on Imgur: https://imgur.com/r/CityPorn/Jl0OAe8.

Photographs of Bordeaux show striking consistency of physical features over time, despite the ravages of two world wars. Photographs of cities like Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, however, tell quite a different story. To varying degrees, geolocation allows researchers to contextualize a soldier’s experience spatially—where were they and what were they experiencing in that place and time? What buildings were still standing? How has the cityscape or landscape changed? Using photographs to place personal stories within a larger context is important to understanding our collections.

Andrew Harman, MA, CA

Archivist, Center for American War Letters Archives

Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University

In Focus

Get Social

Instagram

A collection of ethereal musings from the past ten centuries; these illuminations, prints, paintings, and photographs, curated by Stephen Ellcock, never fail to enchant.

@stephenellcock


Twitter

Follow CollectSocialPhoto, a Nordic collaborative project developing methods for collecting social digital photography in museums and archives. Their website includes updates, resources, and information on related conferences and workshops throughout the world.


Online Opportunities

In case you missed it

Put on a kettle and listen to sessions delivered at 2017’s “Photo Archives IV: The Place of Photography,” an international conference whose focus was investigating photographs and photographic archives in relation to notions of place. 


Let’s get lost! 

Prepare to lose your day in this charming collection of early Japanese animation from the National Film Center, Tokyo. [Site is in English]


You (didn’t) have to be there

Street photography enthusiasts, rejoice! Closed for the pandemic, the 2020 Italian Street Photo Festival has taken its program online


On display

The works of Charles “Teenie” Harris, legendary chronicler of Pittsburgh’s African American community and photographer for The Pittsburgh Courier, now have a dedicated gallery at the Carnegie Museum of Art. The exhibition features iconic examples of Harris’s photographs and will be the focus of a number of educational programs and community events inspired by this world-renowned collection.


Get Involved

Time wasters

You are probably stuck inside anyway, so why not participate in the Getty Challenge?

**This one has been going on for a while–it might be stale now, but is still hilarious.


Lend a hand

Looking for useful ways to pass time during your next Zoom meeting? Spend a few moments tagging historic structures, details, and byways in NARA’s Citizen Archivist crowdsourcing project for the Bureau of Public Roads, 1896-1963 Records.


Group efforts

View crowdsourced images documenting scenes of self-isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic or submit your own to the Isolation Museum.


Education

Learn something

Travel plans scrapped? Don’t despair–there are still are plenty of opportunities for distance learning. Check out the (occasionally free) offerings from SAA, NEDCC, and AMIA.