Photographs Objects Histories

After a crit with Richard Mulhearn, he advised that I should read the introduction to a book called Photographs Objects Histories: On the Materiality of Images by Elizabeth Edwards and Janice Hart. This isa book i was first advised to read in my second year and never found the time to do it but I am glad I took the time to do it this time around.

This book discusses photographs as three dimensional images. They have a mass and volume and, as discussed in a quote by Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida at the beginning of the book, they collect dust and finger prints from being handled, glue from being stuck in an album and the images fade over time. This adds to the tactility of the image in itself and therefore gives a different feeling and perspective to the viewer. This book tells you to consider more than just the image that printed when you examine an image but to also look at the photograph as an object to get its full story; the glue and finger prints on an image can tell you that this is a much loved image for example. Even the medium with which we use to view the image can change its narrative, aesthetic qualities and our response to it. Using a computer or a phone to view an image would be significantly different to handling the image or viewing it in a gallery.

This is part of the materiality which we must consider when looking at a photograph. As well as the viewing medium we must also consider how the image is printer, if it ever was, and on what format and what chemical process has added or subtracted from our appreciation of it. So it is concluded in the book at the materiality of the image is key to understanding it.

I am still part way through this book but so far it has been an interesting and absorbing read and I will be finishing it in the coming weeks as time allows



Photographs Objects Histories: On the Materiality of Images (Material Cultures)
. (2004). Routledge.

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