Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Stereograph = Amazing.

The stereograph was quite the invention, it seemed as though Oliver Wendell Holmes created something truly magnificent. The stereograph was a card with two identical images that was seen through a stereoscope. When a person views this, they see what appears to be a three dimensional image. This discovery made simple photographs to appear as real objects.

"The first effect of looking at a good photograph through the stereoscope is a surprise such as no painting ever produced. The mind feels its way into the very depths of the picture. The scraggy branches of a tree in the foreground run out at us as if they would scratch our eyes out. The elbow of a figure stands forth so as to make us almost uncomfortable. Then there is such frightful amount of detail, that we have the same sense of infinite complexity which Nature gives us." - The Stereoscope and The Stereograph, Page 1.

Holmes describes his invention as an extraordinary thing and ya know something? It was. Not only did the viewer recieve a more realistic vision but they also got a touch of spark to their imaginations. Not only does the viewer see it as something that they could touch in real life, it makes them feel that they actually are. It feels true, real, and exciting but also scary sometimes. Without the stereograph, life may have been very different. It may not have been too exciting but it's defiently brought a nice excitement. It also brought more understanding. It brought greatness.

mass image

After reading articles by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles Baudelaire, and the article, "the Pernicious Picture Postcard", it is pretty easy to grasp the opinions of each. I agree that the picture is a miracle in some aspects, as Holmes may have mentioned. Today, the image is as powerful a tool as the most powerful weapon in our arsenal. An image has the ability to win wars. Look at the image of the Marines raising the flag over Mt. Surabachi during WWII. In some ways, it really is a miracle. However, when using an image to express scenes from travel, or emotions from a particular character, feeling comes up short. You can use a photograph in a documentary to speak just as well as your written words. An image by itself leads the imagination to run wild. Words and an image can make up a perfect pair. One without the other may not do any justice. Sometimes an image is left alone in order to arouse the imagination. Baudelaire explains the image as ruining the the painter. The image is not natural. I feel that when attempting to persuade a person during a time of war, or to convict a law breaker, the image is a force to be reckoned with. I also believe that an image may take away from the experiences obtained through travels. A photo is a useful tool and it is an important form of mass media.

New Media Find: Oldest Voice Recording 1860

The above images are of a phonautogram on the left, and the picture on the right is a new find in Audio History; dated 1860 a voice recording from Paris, France.

I saw this on the news and then found it on rueters. The voice recording dates seventeen years earlier than Thomas Edison's recorded sound. Found in Paris by American "Audio Historians". It is a ten second sound recording of the folk song "Au Clair De La Lune". The phonautogram captured sounds visually but could not play them back.

Public Opinion Vs. Advertisers. Often partners in crime!

In E.L. Godkins article The Advertiser and the Daily Press we see the emergence of a new industry printing articles that are prone to instill the interests of the advertisers as opposed to appealing to the true masses senses. Newspapers learned by the turn of the twentieth century that the money was in the advertising, not the subscriptions. This would be the beginnings of the media we know of today. This evolution coincided with the sprawl of inventions promoting mass industry. Mass media had already begun by now, but advertisers and big business would now intervene in the interests of many true blue news gurus.

House of Fantasy

From Jane Addams point of view, the theater was a "Romanticism" for the youth. A "house of dreams" as she refers to it in its power over the youngsters, making these fictional stories come to life. Addams believes that "the theater has a strange power to forecast life for the youth" What I believe she was trying to get at was similar to contemporary debates over media and music today. Many critics feel that the images and music that the youth are exposed to may then have a direct effect on their own prospective of life, thus taking a romanticized fiction and creating a new reality. Addams also describes the type of stories that play out in these films. She describes them as films:

"filling their impressionable minds with these absurdities which will become the
foundation for their working moral codes....and the data from which they will
judge the proprieties of life".

This quote also is an example of the potential effects that these films will cause. In reading the descriptions of a few of these films, I can see where she comes to that conclusion. In one of the films, a mother gives thanks to God for him allowing her sons to bring home two hundred dollars in which they obtain by killing an innocent laundyman while robbing him for his money.

Expression or digression?

El Godkin gives us a forecast of future problems that media outlets. It comes by way of the balancing act between readership and commercialism. Godkin states that Newspapers prior to the commercial revolution served as gauge of public opinion because the expressed the same thoughts as there readers. When superscription's were no longer the only means of subsistence for these newspapers advertisers began to emerge as influential figures with regards to newspapers. As a result newspapers would slant there reporting towards companies. Also they would change there reporting to gain numbers for the subscriptions to gain more money from there advertisers.

Newspapers were now entering a relationship that was not present before. It was one of there dependence on there advertisers. This of course is quite prevalent today with GE's ownership of NBC, as well as Murdoch's NY post. Readership was still of the utmost important but commercial factors would now be as important as well.

The Security Camera, circa. 1824

(After hearing of a pick-pocket caught by a man observing through a Camera Obscura) "Whether it might be proper to erect [the Camera Obscura] in the streets of a populous city like this, and to place it under the inspection of an officer for the detection of mischief and crime, is a matter worthy of the consideration of the local authorities." - From The Glasgow Mechanics' Magazine, No. XXXII

This magazine predicted what has become a struggle for some, especially in England. The saturation of Closed Circuit Television, used by security cameras, in England has many government watchdogs calling for a reformation in their governments ways. In England there is 1 CCTV camera for every 14 people, and some of these are beginning to be equipped with microphones.

This problem, little known to most American citizens I've talked to, is something that would cause an enourmous uproar if transposed to our own country. Imagine New York City with a set of security cameras on every corner. It isn't hard to see where this could lead. The article in The Glasgow Mechanics' Magazine doesn't delve into the problems of a people who's every move is watched by its government, perhaps because of the limitations in the Camera Obscura it was examining. They saw only the potential to help, the same potential that is used as a reason or excuse to build security cameras on streetcorners.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

It can be argued that photography and writing complement each other or that one is superior to the other. The reality is actually both. The words of a poem can be extremely difficult to express in a single picture but it can also be said that a single picture is worth a thousand words. In the same manner, a picture to give the reader a clear perspective can complement an article in a newspaper.

“Let photography quickly enrich the traveler’s album, and restore to his eyes the precision his memory may lack;…….let it, in short, be the secretary and record keeper of whomsoever needs absolute material accuracy for professional reasons.” The Modern Public and Photography, Baudelaire P. 88

Someone travelling through the conflict area in Darfur, could in essence, write page upon page describing the terrible conditions that people are going through. However, the reality is that a single picture showing the facial expressions, filled with terror and uncertainty, of a mother and child are stronger than all the words in the world.

Photography an art by itself, has the power that words may lack to create a direct connection with another person’s soul, dead, alive, in the past or the future, next to you, or halfway across the globe.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Oliver Holmes Stereograph Invention

This is a stereograph card with two identical images which can be viewed through a magnifying viewer to make the objects appear 3 dimensional.

In Oliver Holmes' article "The stereoscope and the stereograph" in 1859 he describes the mechanics of the stereograph and the amazing advance it is to be able to take a two dimensional picture and make it three dimensional. The very idea that our eyes can see three dimensional is itself intriguing. Holmes' explains that the very detail that a picture can capture an artist would leave out.

"Form is henceforth divorced from matter. In fact, matter as a visible object
is of no great use any longer, except as the mould on which form is shaped.

"We are looking into stereoscopes as pretty toys, and wondering over a photograph as a charming novelty; but before another generation has passed away, it will be recognized that a new epoch in the history of human progess."

What Holmes is saying in 1859 is that in the years to come the photograph will be mass poduced instead of a novelty for the wealthy. Holmes talks of the nest European war being photographed and how a bulb of light flashing would help increase exposure time for a picture. His thoughts and ideas are ahead of his time and this article expresses his belief that the photograph will bring great things in the future.