New PDF release: Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and

By Noam M. Elcott

Darkness has a historical past and a uniquely glossy shape. precise from evening, shadows, and synthetic mild, “artificial darkness” has been overlooked—until now. in truth, managed darkness used to be necessary to the increase of images and cinema, technological know-how and spectacle, and a century of complex artwork and movie. Artificial Darkness is the 1st ebook to historicize and theorize this phenomenon and map its purposes throughout a number media and artwork forms.

In exploring how synthetic darkness formed sleek artwork, movie, and media, Noam M. Elcott addresses seminal and vague works along their websites of production—such as images darkrooms, movie studios, and laboratories—and their websites of reception, together with theaters, cinemas, and exhibitions. He argues that artists, scientists, and entertainers like Étienne-Jules Marey, Richard Wagner, Georges Méliès, and Oskar Schlemmer revolutionized not just pictures but additionally every little thing surrounding them: the display, the darkness, and the event of our bodies and house. on the middle of the publication is “the black screen,” a know-how of darkness that spawned today’s blue and eco-friendly monitors and has undergirded quite a few complicated paintings and movie practices to this day.

Turning ordinary paintings and picture narratives on their heads, Artificial Darkness is a progressive remedy of an elusive, but basic, element of paintings and media history.

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Additional info for Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and Media

Sample text

This invisibility was no longer a philosophical a priori; dark spaces like the camera obscura ceased to serve as models for human vision. Rather, invisibility was the result of bodily discipline and technological precision: black-clad figures vanished before black screens. The designation “Chevreul’s black” inextricably linked late nineteenthcentury technologies of darkness to early nineteenth-century physiology. At first blush, it is not hard to imagine why Marey would have credited Chevreul with the discovery of absolute black.

60 Despite abundant evidence to the contrary, Müller equated darkness, retinal repose, the absence of stimulation, and the color black—preserving the dominant opinion of philosophers, color theorists, and physiologists since Aristotle. Hermann von Helmholtz inaugurated a revisionist account in his own multivolume handbook for physiological optics, published between 1856 and 1866 (and issued together in 1867). Thenceforth black would be un31 \ ar t I F I c I al Dar k N E S S derstood as a positive term.

It should come as no surprise that Claudet, an early expert in artificial darkness and its manifold techniques, would advance a practice at once technologically precocious and aesthetically regressive. Faced with the difficulties endemic to the uniform exposure of a subject, Claudet attempted to control the darkness rather than intensify the light. As he reported in 1847: I looked for some mean as to modify the effects of the light. The idea occurred to me to employ Screens covered with black Velvet, to shade the parts of the subject which reflect too much light, and to retard the action until the parts in shadow 39 \ ar t I F I c I al Dar k N E S S have produced sufficient effect.

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Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and Media by Noam M. Elcott


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