Photographs are not only images, but also historically shaped three-dimensional objects. They hold a physical presence, bear traces of handling and use and circulate in social, political and institutional networks. Beyond their visual content they are now increasingly acknowledged as material “actors” not only indexically representing the objects they depict but also playing a crucial role in the processes of meaning-making within scientific practices. Thus, photographs lead a double existence as both pictures of objects and material objects in their own right.
Most scientific disciplines rapidly adopted photography as an important research tool to document everything from excavation sites, costumes and artworks in museums to snowflakes under a microscope – through photographs such objects of research, were detached from their original surroundings, put in standardized and transportable formats, newly contextualized and made comparable. Especially the material qualities of photographs have shaped their adoption in the various disciplines by affording certain types of uses. Inscriptions in and the handling of photographs made “photo-objects” applicable to the sciences and humanities. This way they could be classified, archived and thus satisfy the positivistic demand for “objectivity”. The formation and definition of many academic disciplines is therefore not conceivable without photography. These processes were encouraged by the foundation of specialized photo-archives as interfaces of technology and science. They were and still are laboratories of scientific thought, in which objects of all kinds are part of a dynamic and material system of knowledge, interacting with and reacting to each other – from “photo-objects” in their various manifestations to storage furniture, card catalogues, inventory books, reference lists, prints and illustrated publications.
FECHA CONGRESO/CONGRESS DATE/DATA CONGRESSO: 15-16-17/02/2016
LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: The Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut (Firenze, Italy)
ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Costanza Caraffa, Julia Bärnighausen, Photothek des Kunsthistorischen Instituts in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut.
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