Posts Tagged ‘photography’
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”*…
Given how most people take selfies, you’d probably think it was some 1990s teenage girl armed with an early Kodak digicam, or maybe a group of late-1960s flower children armed with a Polaroid camera. But no, 21st-century-style selfies are actually an early 20th-century affair. In fact, this photograph taken in December in 1920 might be the first modern selfie…
Snapped in New York on the roof of the Marceau Studio on Fifth Avenue, across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, this picture features five mustached photographers holding an antediluvian analog camera at arm’s length. Because this camera would have been too heavy to hold with one hand, Joseph Byron is propping it up on the left, with his colleague Ben Falk holding it on the right. In the middle, you have Pirie MacDonald, Colonel Marceau, and Pop Core…
What’s interesting here is that these five gentlemen were the photographers of the Byron Company, a photography studio founded in Manhattan in 1892, which was described by the New York Times as “one of New York’s pre-eminent commercial photography studios.” Joseph Byron is the founder, and the studio actually still operates in the hands of his descendants, seventh-generation photographer Thomas Byron and his son, Mark Byron. The possible creators of the first selfie are still in business!
These incredible photographs are just two of 23,000 Byron Company prints that have been digitized as part of the Museum of the New York City’s digital collection. You can check out more of their incredible photographic library online here.
Read more at “This Might Be The First Selfie In Photographic History.”
Your correspondent’s Facebook followers will recall that there’s an earlier candidate for “first selfie”:
According to the Library of Congress, this photo of chemist and metallurgist Robert Cornelius is believed to be the first photographic portrait; and as he shot the daguerreotype himself in 1839, the first self-portrait. But as for we we typically mean these days by “selfie”– a shot taken with camera held at arms length– it appears the Byron boys have it.
* Genesis 1:27
As we turn to catch the light, we might recall that it was on this date in 2012 that a Nebraska woman sold a three-year-old McDonalds Chicken McNugget on eBay. Rebekah Speight of Dakota City explained in her offer:
Approximately 3 years ago, I treated my children to “99 cent McNugget Tuesday” and play time at our local McDonald’s. As I was cleaning up, I noticed one particular nugget and began to laugh. I picked it up for a closer look, and sure enough it was in the likeness of President George Washington. I decided to take it home and show my husband this hysterical find.
When he arrived home, I pulled it out of the freezer and he could not believe his eyes. We shared a moment of laughter as we joked about putting it on eBay. Then back in the freezer it went.
The students of Family Worship Center in Sioux City, Iowa are in the process of trying to raise $15,000 for Church Camp this summer. My husband and I felt led to auction this “President George Washington Chicken McNugget” as part of our fund-raising effort. 100% of the money raised will go to Family Worship Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
By bidding on this rare “President George Washington Chicken McNugget” … not only will you have an opportunity to be the new owner of this rare find, but you will be investing in the lives of children.
In view of the cause, eBay waived its prohibition on the offer of “expired food.” The McNugget fetched $8,100.
New York photographer Sasha Bezzubov uses a variety of conceptual methods to point viewers to larger phenomena that underlie visible landscapes… Bezzubov’s series Things Fall Apart (2001-07), depicts the aftermath of natural disasters in India, Indonesia, Thailand and the United States. The pictures function in part as documents of these tragic events, but the series as a whole does not convey enough specific information to be useful as documentary work. Rather, the images blend together to form a more generalized, and aestheticized, portrayal of destruction, following the long artistic tradition of appreciating the melancholy beauty of ruins and nature’s destructive power. That tradition is closely tied to the idea of the sublime — a sensation of beauty and terror in the face of nature’s power — prevalent in 18th and early 19th century philosophy and landscape art, and often understood as a way of experiencing the divine. Nature’s power is certainly evident in Bezzubov’s images, but the knowledge that human-caused climate change has increased the frequency and strength of catastrophic storms reshapes our sense of the sublime…
Read more at Design Observer…
* Isaac Asimov
As we take stock, we might recall that it was on this date in 1993 that the World Trade Center in New York was attacked for the first time: a nitrate-hydrogen truck bomb was detonated below the North Tower. The blast shook the 110 story tower, causing the collapse of several floors in the underground garage, and tore a hole in the ceiling of an adjoining subway; six people were killed, another thousand, injured. The attack is believed to have been planned by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a member of what we now know as al-Qaeda, and was executed by a group who were apprehended, tried, and convicted the following year.
Artist Etienne Lavie has taken photos of Paris in which advertisements in the background are replaced with classical paintings…
See more of the series– “OMG Who Stole My Ads?”– at Lavie’s site.
[via Laughing Squid]
* George Bernard Shaw
As we appreciate the finer things, we might recall that it was on this date in 1886 that Thomas Eakins, the realist painter, photographer, sculptor, and teacher widely regarded as one of the most important artists in American art history, resigned from the Philadelphia Academy of Art. Eakins, almost obsessively interesting in the precise rendering of the human form, had stirred scandal in the school by employing a nude male model in one of his classes.
The Barcelona-based artist is known for his “reconstructive” interpretations of architecture around the world (c.f., e.g., his images of Tel Aviv shot back in 2010). See more of Enrich‘s NHDK project at Colossal.
As we consider different perspectives, we might send terrifyingly (and at the same time, amusingly) insightful birthday greetings to Edwin Abbott Abbott; he was born on this date in 1838. A schoolmaster and theologian, Abbott is best remembered as the author of the remarkable novella Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884). Writing pseudonymously as “A Square,” Abbott used the fictional two-dimensional world of Flatland to offer pointedly-satirical observations on the social hierarchy of Victorian culture. But the work has survived– and inspired legions of mathematicians and science fiction writers– by virtue of its fresh and accessible examination of dimensionality. Indeed, Flatland was largely ignored on its original publication; but it was re-discovered after Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity– which posits a fourth dimension– was introduced; in a 1920 letter to Nature, Abbott is called a prophet for his intuition of the importance of time to explain certain phenomena.
The Art of Google Books collects two types of images: analog stains that are emblems of a paper book’s history and digital glitches that result from the scanning. On the site, the analog images show scads of marginalia written in antique script, library “date due” stamps from the mid-century, tobacco stains, wormholes, dust motes, and ghosts of flowers pressed between pages. On the digital side are pages photographed while being turned, resulting in radical warping and distortion; the solarizing of woodcuts owing to low-resolution imaging; sonnets transformed by software bugs into pixelated psychedelic patterns; and the ubiquitous images of workers’ hands…
The diverse, startling adversaria of Google Books merits examination and exhibition. The aim of this project is twofold; to recognize book digitization as rephotography, and to value the signs of use that accompany digitized texts as worthy of documentation and study.
Read more– and find links to others mining Google Books– at “The Artful Accidents of Google Books.”
As we put away our cotton gloves, we might send well-turned birthday greetings to Gustave Flaubert; he was born on this date in 1821. Widely considered one of the greatest novelists in the Western canon, he is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary (1857), for his Correspondence– and for the scrupulous devotion to style and aesthetics they demonstrate. Flaubert’s almost obsessive commitment to lean and precise prose was a major influence on his protege Maupassant, and later on such authors as Zola, Kafka and Coetzee, and has been the subject of admiration from thinkers and writers across a spectrum that runs from Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes to Mario Vargas Llosa and Marshall McLuhan.
Novelists should thank Flaubert the way poets thank spring; it all begins again with him. There really is a time before Flaubert and a time after him. Flaubert decisively established what most readers and writers think of as modern realist narration, and his influence is almost too familiar to be visible. We hardly remark of good prose that it favors the telling of brilliant detail; that it privileges a high degree of visual noticing; that it maintains an unsentimental composure and knows how to withdraw, like a good valet, from superfluous commentary; that it judges good and bad neutrally; that it seeks out the truth, even at the cost of repelling us; and that the author’s fingerprints on all this are paradoxically, traceable but not visible. You can find some of this in Defoe or Austen or Balzac, but not all of it until Flaubert.
- James Wood, How Fiction Works (2008)