Singular Images, Failed Copies
This chapter examines the way the early photograph was historicized, analyzed and discussed by its early practitioners in reviews on photography in journals and newspapers that appeared in the 1840s. It argues that for early practitioners the photographic image was conceived to be very different from the image of the camera obscura. While in the camera obscura the image forms itself instantaneously and uniformly, the photograph develops through time. Thus the camera obscura image was always the same because it excluded time from its process of formation, whereas the photograph introduced time as a differentiating element into its form of production, resulting in a variety of contingent unaccountable effects. The chapter analyses Talbot’s botanical images, John Herschel’s vegetable photographs and Robert Hunt’s early histories of photography.
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