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Developing Animals

Developing Animals: Wildlife and Early American Photography

Matthew Brower
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Developing Animals
    Book Description:

    Developing Animals takes us back to the time when Americans started taking pictures of the animal kingdom, investigating how photography changed our perception of animals. Combining approaches in visual cultural studies and the history of photography, Matthew Brower argues that photography has been essential not only to the understanding of wildlife but also to the conceptual separation of humans and animals.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7496-1
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION Capturing Animals
    (pp. xiii-xxx)

    Contemporary American woodlore suggests that to properly respect nature we should “take only photographs and leave only footprints” when we enter the wilderness. In this schema photography appears as a nonintrusive, environmentally friendly activity that shows proper respect for the fragility of nature; taking photographs takes nothing from nature, leaving it undisturbezd. This rhetoric positions nature photography as maintaining a separation between human and nature.¹ It assures us that photography keeps us at an appropriate distance from nature. Within this conception of nature, photography stands as the figure of an ideal relation to nature; it provides access to nature while...

  5. CHAPTER 1 A Red Herring: The Animal Body, Representation, and Historicity
    (pp. 1-24)

    The Photographic Exchange Club of London’sPhotographic Albumof 1857 contained a photograph of a heron titled Piscator No. 2 (Figure 1). The photograph was accompanied by an epigram that read, “And in the weedy moat, the heron fond of solitude alighted. The moping heron motionless and stiff, that on a stone as silently and stilly stood, an apparent sentinel, as if to guard the waterlily.”¹ John Dillwyn Llewelyn (1810–82) took the photograph in 1856. Llewelyn, a cousin of photographic inventor William Henry Fox Talbot, was a pioneering Welsh photographer.² He specialized in images of nature taken from around...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Camera Hunting in America
    (pp. 25-82)

    Writing in 1900, the American critic James B. Carrington claimed that “as a test of skill in bagging game there is no comparison between the gun and the camera.”¹ In other words, he argued that hunting animals with a camera was more difficult than hunting with a gun. To justify this claim, Carrington suggested that “to get a picture of some shy animal or bird calls for all the resources and knowledge of woodcraft that the best of sportsmen may command, and pits the intelligence of one against the other” (455). Animal photography was more difficult and demanding than gun...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Photographic Blind
    (pp. 83-134)

    In the introduction to the bookPhotographing Nature, the editors of Time-Life Books suggest that within the logic of the photographs of nature they present, “man is really just an offstage voice” (7). While he might be the “the inventor-operator of the image making apparatus,” they argue that man “is not in the picture itself, and does not belong there” (7). Instead, they aimed to present photographs that showed the world “almost as if man were the one animal that did not exist in it” (7). In their view, true nature photography presents a vision of the world empty of...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Appearance of Animals: Abbott Thayer, Theodore Roosevelt, and Concealing-Coloration
    (pp. 135-192)

    Nineteenth-century animal photography was characterized by the attempt to make animals visible. This effort can be seen in the development of photographic technology by Eadweard Muybridge, Étienne-Jules Marey, and Ottomar Anschütz to capture mobile animal bodies; the adaptation of hunting techniques to make uncooperative animal bodies photographable; and the development of the photographic blind. These practices and events all contributed to making animals visible and photographable. For example, as was discussed in the previous chapter, the photographic blind was used to make animals fully available to sight. In the rhetoric of the blind, seeing more of animals equaled knowing more...

  9. CONCLUSION Developing Animals
    (pp. 193-198)

    Since the announcement of photography in 1839, there have been an ever-increasing number of cameras pointed at animals in nature. The resulting photographs bear, in varying degrees, the traces of the animals in front of the lens and the humans behind them. The photographs produced by a camera pointed at an animal in nature are shaped by the social and technical context of the image’s production and circulation. This includes the immediate situation of animal and camera in nature, the broader social and cultural situation of the photographer, and the technological capabilities (and constraints) of the equipment. Simply put, cameras...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 199-238)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 239-244)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-245)