Symposium: The Transit Lounge of Photography and Magic Lantern Performance
A symposium on the ever-changing states of photography from the invention of the medium to the digital present.
From the magic lantern to Instagram and ‘connected photography’ this symposium unpacks a little history of the transmission of images. The Transit Lounge of Photography examines where the medium of record has been and asks: how is it travelling.
The Transit Lounge of Photography is all about making connections with photographic images and reading their vapor trails. Presenting a series of projections on images and ideas in the share-house of photography.
Join us for an afternoon looking through photographs and at photography ending in a live magic lantern show in the evening.
Coordinated by Patrick Pound (Deakin Motion Lab Centre for Creative Arts Research) and the Centre for Contemporary Photography.
Often imagined to be an attribute associated with the advent of digital technologies, a continual transmutation of form has in fact always been part of photography’s history. This paper will focus on the electrical transmission of photographic images, from the invention of photo-telegraphy in the nineteenth century to the distribution of pictures of the Moon in the 1960s based on signals sent from spacecraft. Resulting in strange manipulations of time and space, the electrification of the photograph reminds us once again that photography’s identity is synonymous with that of modernity itself.
Geoffrey Batchen teaches art history at Victoria University of Wellington. Batchen has published extensively, in twenty languages to date. He is the author of Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (1997, with subsequent translations into Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Slovenian and Chinese); Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (2001 also in Chinese); Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance (2004); William Henry Fox Talbot (2008); What of Shoes: Van Gogh and Art History (2009, in German and English); Suspending Time: Life, Photography, Death (2010, in Japanese and English); Emanations: The Art of the Cameraless Photograph (2016); and Obraz a diseminace: Za novou historii pro fotografii [Image and Dissemination: Towards a New History of Photography] (2016, in Czech). A new collection of his essays, More Wild Ideas: History, Photography, Writing, will appear in Chinese in 2017. He has also edited Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida (2009) and co-edited Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis (2012).
Over the past twenty-five years, Geoff has frequently been involved in the international art world as a curator. He has, for example, worked on exhibitions in Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and the United States. In April 2016 his exhibition, Emanations: The Art of the Cameraless Photograph, opened at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, New Zealand. In October 2017 an exhibition curated under the direction of Batchen and titled Apparitions: The Photograph and its Image will open at the Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University of Wellington. Another exhibition, Runes: Photography and Decipherment, will open at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne in January 2018.
A Postcard from Atget arrived today: reconnecting with photography
This paper will delve into the redundant archives of photographic images in various states of transmission. This is a view from the transit lounge of photography. Photography is the medium of record. Increasingly photography is also a connected medium. Beginning with Atget’s photographs of the petits métiers of Paris, and their translation into picture postcards (circa 1906-9), we will rifle through a plethora of images in flight. From early 20th century albums of a fast disappearing Paris to defunct American Newspaper archives and recently dispersed image banks we will unpack archives of redundant images in states of transition.
This paper shuffles through everything from the post-carding of the petits métiers to the New York Public Library Picture Collections; from the Farm Security Administration archives of the Depression era to the fire sale of the photo-files of a Detroit newspaper; from dispersed Hollywood studio archives to family albums cast adrift. We will think through these images in transmission via images that are themselves depictions of transmission. From engravings made after photographs of messenger pigeons to a Woodbury type of a painting salvaged from now redundant archives for sale on eBay we will rethink photography through the lens of the transit station. We will look at photography as the useful medium of record, with a history of transmission, and at its shifting emphasis away from capturing a likeness to sharing things we like and capturing likes. Photography is now the medium of record making connections. Platforms of transmission and archives in transmission draw our attention to this. We will see how we once shared images, and ask: how are they travelling now?
Patrick Pound is a Melbourne artist and Senior Lecturer in Art at Deakin University and coordinator of Research in Art and Performance and of Higher Degrees by Research in Art and Performance with Associate Professor Jondi Keane. Pound collects photographs and other things. He claims: “”To collect is to gather your thoughts through things.”” His work makes trouble for the ideas of collecting and photography amongst other things. Pound’s traditional research focusses on photography and literature, the invention of the documentary style, the transmission of photographic images and the uses and meanings of photography. His key areas of interest include Eugène Atget, A.L. Coburn and Walker Evans.
Last year Pound instigated and coordinated with CCP: Walker Evans: Reading the Magazine Work — an International Symposium, and presented: Walker Evans: documentary detachment, narrative sequences and telling juxtapositions. The symposium was supported by: Deakin University Motion Lab Centre for Creative Arts Research (DMLCCAR), Monash University (MADA) and CCP and was held in association with David Campany’s exhibition Walker Evans: the Magazine work and The Documentary Take, curated by Naomi Cass. David Campany, University of Westminster, London, was the keynote speaker along with Donna West-Brett (University of Sydney) and Patrick Pound (Deakin University). The symposium was moderated by Daniel Palmer (MADA).
Pound’s survey The Great Exhibition was held at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2017. In 2018 Pound will stage The Point of Everything as part of the Adelaide Biennial at the Art Gallery of South Australia and a new survey exhibition will be held at The City Gallery in Wellington. His work is held in numerous Public collections including: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Auckland City Art Gallery, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Christchurch Art Gallery, The Museum of New Zealand, Waikato Museum of Art and History, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, Chartwell Trust, Art Bank, and the New Zealand Film Archive. Pound has a PhD in Art History from the University of Melbourne where he was awarded the Fred Knight scholarship and was a Norman McGeorge Fellow.
Martyn Jolly and Elisa deCourcy
‘Two-Thirds of the Globe’: The spectacular career of J W Newland, a showman photographer at the dawn of the age of modern vision.
James William Newland’s career as a showman daguerreotypist began in the cultural crucible of New Orleans in 1845. It ended violently during the Indian Mutiny twelve years later. In between, he carved an extraordinary southern arc through Central and South America, the Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, Britain and finally India. With his camera he rode whaling, trade and missionary routes between continents and across empires. He passed through several warzones and photographed many characters, not only colonists with a guinea to spare for their likeness, but also traditional Pacific Islander royalty who had become celebrities in the colonial press. Although he took extraordinarily vivid daguerreotypes, he also developed other new technologies for exhibiting and performing images, such as the magic lantern, which prefigure contemporary entertainment technologies.
Seventeen of his personality-filled daguerreotypes survive in US, Indian, Australian and British collections. His lively 1848 portrait of the Sydney publican and alderman Edward Macdonald is in the Macleay Museum, Sydney University. His amazingly detailed 1848 view of Murray Street Hobart, the oldest extant exterior photograph in Australia, is in the Tasmanian Museum and Gallery. As Newland moved from continent to continent and empire to empire he photographed a range of people of different classes and races. He accumulated and displayed portraits and views in a travelling ‘Daguerrean gallery’ that exhibited the new colonial world to itself, unrestricted by national or imperial borders. He developed spectacular ‘dissolving view’ magic lantern exhibitions that took colonists in Australia and India on highly coloured transports of nostalgic fantasy and showed them new scientific spectacles.
Newland’s strong personality, which still shines through the historical record, drove his exceptional and intrepid life story around the world. In a Sydney advertisement for his ‘Daguerrean Gallery’ he boasts he had covered ‘two thirds of the globe’. Up until the moment of his violent death his career knitted together the complexity of the colonial experience. We will examine the full arc of Newland’s career in the context of the international visual culture of the time and the dynamic economic and racial politics of the period.
Martyn Jolly is an artist and a writer. He is Head of Photography and Media Arts at the Australian National University School of Art and Design. He completed his PhD on fake photographs and photographic affect at the University of Sydney in 2003. In 2006 his book Faces of the Living Dead: The Belief in Spirit Photography was published by the British Library, as well as in the US and Australia. His work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Canberra Museum and Gallery. In 2006 he was one of three artists commissioned to design and build the Act Bushfire Memorial. In 2011 he undertook a Harold White Fellowship at the National Library of Australia and a Collection Scholar Artist in Residence Fellowship at the Australian National Film and Sound Archive. In 2014 he received an Australian Research Council Discovery grant along with Dr Daniel Palmer to research the impact of new technology on the curating of Australian art photography. In 2015 he received an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant to lead the international project Heritage in the Limelight: The Magic Lantern in Australia and the World. He is also researching Australiana photobooks, and the history of Australian media art.
Elisa deCourcy is the Research Fellow on the Australian Research Council Discovery project ‘Heritage in the Limelight: The Magic Lantern in Australia and the World’ based at the ANU School of Art and Design. She was awarded her PhD in 2014 for a thesis that examined the photography of early twentieth century English explorers in Africa and Central Asia. Elisa was a keynote speaker at the 2013 New South Wales History Week, ‘Picture This’, state forum. After graduating she worked as a research assistant in the photography curatorial department of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and as the research officer for the Centre for Media History at Macquarie University. Elisa is particularly interested in early travel photography, photography and cross-cultural masquerade, and nineteenth century visual experimentation and appropriation. She has spoken and published on her research in Australia and overseas. Along with Dr Jolly she is working on an extended project about the exceptional transnational career of daguerreotypist and magic lanternist James William Newland (1810-1857).
Naomi Cass and Pippa Milne
Speaking of these walls
Curators, Naomi Cass and Pippa Milne will discuss An unorthodox flow of images, the exhibitionin which this Symposium is located, both physically and conceptually. Touching upon the motivations, antecedents and desired outcomes for this radical approach to considering contemporary photography and video practice.
Naomi Cass is Director, Centre for Contemporary Photography. In 2005 she oversaw relocation of CCP to purpose designed premises. Recently she took The Real and Other Places, an exhibition of Australian video art, to PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai 2017. Her other CCP and touring shows include: The documentary take: Walker Evans and selected Australian art, 2015, in concert with David Campany’s exhibition, Walker Evans: the magazine work; Crossing paths with Vivian Maier, 2014, True Self: David Rosetzky Selected Works, 2013, with Kyla McFarlane; The Collaborative Art of Wendy Ewald, 2012 with Karra Rees; and Simryn Gill, Inland, 2009.
Pippa Milne is the Curator at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, where she has curated exhibitions such as For Future Reference, 2015; CCP Declares: On the Social Contract 2016; and The Real and Other Places, presented this year at PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai. Pippa is a lecturer at Melbourne University on the Master of Art Curatorship Program and at Photography Studies College. In 2015 she was the Emerging Curator for Victoria at the Venice Biennale, she holds Bachelor degrees in Law and Arts (Canterbury University) and a Master of Art Curatorship (Melbourne University).
Magic lantern performance
Martyn Jolly, Elisa deCourcy, the Canberra Experimental Music Studio, local guest performers.
In May1848 the daguerreotypist J W Newland promised Sydney audiences a novelty, a: ‘BEAUTIFUL, SCIENTIFIC EXHIBITION OF DISSOLVING VIEWS’
He assured his audience that:
The apparatus is of the most splendid and costly description being on a scale of magnificence never before introduced in the colonies — calculated to blend instruction with amusement — to gratify the learned and the unlearned — refresh the memory of the scholar — and afford the general auditor a magnificent display.
What was this novel experience actually like decades before the invention of cinema, to sit together in the dark and see, projected in richly coloured discs of light, ships rocking on the sea, the earth rotating around the sun, or day turn to night and summer to winter behind the magnificent cathedrals of old Europe. What was it like to laugh as a skeleton comically doffed his skull or a clown swiveled his eyes? What was it like to experience the chromatrope, where pure colour pulsed from the screen?
Using two authentic dissolving view magic lanterns from the 1880s, and a large collection of authentic hand painted magic lantern slides from the same period, we will give contemporary audiences a taste of the original effect of an actual magic lantern show. The show will also feature hand coloured photographic ‘life model’ slides which illustrated melodramatic illustrated stories and songs.