Huellas de Luz: El Arte y los Experimentos de William Henry Fox Talbot / Traces of Light: The Art and Experiments of William Henry Fox Talbot
Museo Nacional, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
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This book was based on a developed and recontextualised version of the bicentenary exhibition Specimens & Marvels curated for the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in 2000, specifically for MNARS in Madrid; the exhibition formed a central part of PhotoEspana’s international festival of photography. As the most extensive exhibition of Talbot’s pioneering experiments with photography to date, the exhibition presented a rigorous encounter with this imaginative and overlooked period of photographic production. It took Talbot’s seminal book 'The Pencil of Nature' (1844-46) as the conceptual framework for the show to reveal the diversity of his thinking through photography. The point being to draw out how Talbot’s pictorial aesthetic was intertwined with research into ancient languages, optics, natural philosophy and interests in painting and literature. Here ideas of reproducibility and the copy were explored in specific historical terms but informed by references to postmodernism. Talbot’s work was also contextualized alongside Niépce and Daguerre to reflect on investments in photography as art, science and industry. The exhibition was reviewed internationally, including an extensive review in Le Monde and journal reviews including Etude Photographique and Afterimage. The accompanying bilingual book contained essays with chapters by Russell Roberts, with additional essays by Geoffrey Batchen, Catherine Coleman, Michael Gray, Gerardo F Kurtz, Larry J Schaaf and Mike Ware. As the curator and main contributor to the book, pages 77-315 are given over to the exhibition and its wider cultural contexts. The research included organizing an international conference 'Retracing the Image: The Emergence of Photography in the 19th Century' (2000); papers published in History of Photography (2001/2); a related essay 'Images and Artefacts: William Henry Fox Talbot and The Museum' for Presenting Pictures, (Artefact, Volume IV 2004, and was reviewed in Journal of Design History, No. 3, 2005.
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