The Future Is Now

 Photographers seem to be a special breed of artist in that they really do not seem to care about the historical roots and traditions of their art.  In the digital era where everyone is a “photographer” it seems, the technology is quickly sterilizing and removing any hint of hand worked craftsmanship from the art of image creation with cameras.  Because of this, as you know if you have been following my work, I have been moving back in time with my art by working with ferrotypes and vintage cameras.   Please do not misinterpret these words to mean that I am against digital photography, the truth is most of my work is digital, and I enjoy the advantages that digital capture provides, but with my move into older methods my interest in photography history has grown.

I ran across a prediction that was originally published in The Living Age, v. 9 published in 1846.  On page 551 there is an article about the daguerreotype which was all the rage during that time.  Listen to these words from the late 1840’s:

   “For our own part we are unable to conceive any limits to the progress of this art.  On the contrary, it tasks the imagination to conjecture what it will not accomplish….Experienced professors (every art now has its professors) shall visit foreign parts, the courts of Europe, the palaces of the pashaws, the Red Sea and the Holy Land, and the pyramids of Geza, and bring home exact representations of all the sublime and ridiculous objects which it now cost so much to see…..Popular vocalists will be taken in the very art and attitude of vocalizing, wordy demagogues in the attempt to hood-wink the sovereignty, and government defaulters at the critical moment of absconding.  Apparatus so extensive will doubtless be constructed that a whole assembly may be taken at once…..Indeed it will be impossible for a tree to bud and blossom, a flower to go to seed, or a vegetable to sprout without executing at the same time an exact photograph of the wonderful process….A man cannot make a proposal or a lady decline one – a steam boiler cannot explode, or an ambitious river overflow its banks – a gardener cannot elope with an heiress, or a reverend bishop commit an indiscretion, but straightaway, an officious daguerreotype will proclaim the whole affair to the world.”

It is remarkable how clear this prediction has come true.  The truth is most of the wonders predicted in this paragraph are beyond common place now.  Stop and spend some time thinking about how photography in all of its forms has touched just about every aspect of our lives.  What would the author of the paragraph above think about the omnipresent camera we find in our modern lives? 


~ by Phil Nesmith on August 22, 2007.

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