Camera Work: Digitalization and Research

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Bettina Gockel
Research Coordinator: Dr. Sophie Junge
Research Team:  Nadine Jirka, MA

Research Period: 2020–2025
Funding: Dr. Carlo Fleischmann Stiftung; Dr. h.c. Kaspar M. Fleischmann Project to Support Research on Photography

Collaboration Partners: Swiss Institute for Art Research SIK-ISEA, Zurich, Switzerland; Heidelberg University Library, Germany; Keio University Art Center, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan; Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Anne McCauley, Princeton University, U.S.; Museum of Modern Art, Hayama, Japan; Associate Curator Chinatsu Makiguchi, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan; Prof. Naoki Sato, Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan

International Advisory Board: Prof. Dr. Hubertus Kohle, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, Germany; Prof. Dr. Tanya Sheehan, Colby College, U.S.; Prof. Dr. Blake Stimson, University of Illinois at Chicago, U.S.; Prof. Dr. Deborah Willis, New York University, U.S.

 

Current Activities and Goals

We are refining the digital facsimile and open access-version of Camera Work, hosted at the Heidelberg University Library. Together with chief librarian Maria Effinger and her team in Heidelberg we are currently tagging all numbers of Camera Work based on the existing indices of topical research literature. For the first time, the journal’s complete contents—images and texts as well as advertisements—are to be systematically catalogued and all essays, reviews, etc. will be searchable as individual bibliographic entries in an international library system.

The second goal of the project is to publish the proceedings of the international conference “Camera Work: History and Global Reach of an International Magazine,” which took place from 9 to 11 March 2018 in Zurich. The symposium was organized in collaboration with the Swiss Institute for Art Research (SIK-ISEA) and generously funded by the Hochschulstiftung of the University of Zurich and the Dr. h.c. Kaspar M. Fleischmann Project to Support Research on Photography. With a group of renowned international scholars, we discussed questions pertaining to Camera Work’s transnational impact, personal and artistic networks of the photographers in Camera Work as well as the materiality of the art and photography journal. The anthology will be published by Heidelberg University Publishing as the first volume of the series Art & Photography in 2020.

Research Aims and Objectives

The magazine Camera Work, published in New York from 1903–1917 and dedicated to the advancement of photography as art, enjoys the status of a modern icon in the history of photography and the history of art writ large. Still, the quarterly has never been properly investigated with advanced methodological and technological approaches. For the first time, this project analyzes Camera Work in its entirety as total work of art, including imagery across various media, the specifically photographic interplay between original and reproduction, interrelations of image and text, and international networks of people and discourses. The magazine has sparked a rich and international debate around a variety of themes and theoretical approaches concerning art, photography and, more importantly, the overlapping of diverse media, subjects and theories of art in a global context. Despite its elitist profile Camera Work’s multi-faceted approach to the arts reflected its turbulent time of existence, the era of transition around the turn of the twentieth century when borders of nation, gender and race were questioned and economically motivated international migration coexisted with the cultural exchange of artists’ travel and international exhibitions.

In a first major step, Camera Work Pilot Project: Digitalization of an International Medium of Photography and Art (2015–2018), all fifty regular and three special issues of Camera Work have been digitized to the highest standards in collaboration with the University Library Heidelberg. On the basis of the technically and structurally sophisticated tool thus produced, the group of researchers embarks on further in-depth research.

The next stage of the project, Camera Work—Inside/Out: Past, Present, and Future of an International Medium of Art and Photography (2017–2018) took an innovative position to question the conventional categorization of the magazine between the poles of pictorialism and modernism and analyzes the journal with particular focus on its internationality which manifests itself in the pages of the journal, its sphere of influence, and its history of collecting. The shared interest in interlinked referentiality connects both stages of the project and points back to the object of analysis itself. A series of public talks and workshops complemented the project which has also been extended over a range of teaching activities. A highlight of the project was the above-mentioned international conference "Camera Work: History and Global Reach on an International Art Magazine," which took place from 9 to 11 March 2018 in Zurich.

Accomplishments

 

Research Period: September 2015–March 2018

Research Group:  Dr. Nanni Baltzer, Dr. Catherine Berger, Laura Gronius, M.A., Nadine Jirka, MA, Dr. Sophie Junge, Dr. Thilo Koenig, Dr. Patrizia Munforte, Dr. Marc-Joachim Wasmer

Associate Member: Dr. Caroline Fuchs

 

Camera Work Pilot Project: Digitalization of an International Medium of Photography and Art

The project is based on the generous long-term loan of a complete set of Camera Work from a private collection. In September 2015, a contract with the SIK-ISEA secured the correct storage of all 53 original volumes in their fragile condition after detailed material examination. One month later, the conference “The Colors of Photography” provided an opportunity to discuss the current state of research on Camera Work and possible new approaches with an international group of experts. The questions raised were further investigated at an international conference in June 2016, where digitalization as a tool to research art and photographic journals entered the debate as a central topic. It was resolved to conduct a systematic research project on Camera Work on the basis of a virtual work platform and to abandon initial ideas of an annotated edition. The research group set out to complete a comparative analysis of projects at universities and museums worldwide with a focus on those providing open access to Camera Work and related photographic collections and primary materials (see e. g. the Modernist Journals Project, a joint project of Brown University and The University of Tulsa; the collection of the Metropolitan Museum; The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of the Chicago Art Institute; The Art of the Photogravure). Further discussion of this project in a national context has been undertaken at the conference at the University of Zurich in 2018.

In a next step, all volumes of Camera Work were quantified and structured in a dynamic database to create a comprehensive and detailed visualization of the journal’s texts and images. The digitization of Camera Work has been completed at the University Library Heidelberg where project partners scanned the journals with the use of a so-called “Grazer Stuhl”—a device specifically developed for fragile manuscripts, books, and journals (see Digital Editions on Arthistoricum.net of the Heidelberg University Library). The aim was to carefully represent the look of the photogravures, mainly printed on Japanese tissue and mounted on textured papers, and to register the current condition of the original object. The digitization of Camera Work will pave the way to further examine the original platinum or gum-bichromate prints used for the photogravure plates in Camera Work, to identify originals in museums and private collections, and to link them to the project database. Currently, efforts are being made to make examplary verifications regarding the work of Gertrude Käsebier and Paul Strand, two photogrpahers who are well-researched in international collections.

An important basic preparation of the digitalized facsimile of Camera Work is the tagging of key terms that appear in the journal and are especially relevant to systematic and thematic research goals. This has been collectively undertaken by the research group for the 1903 volume of Camera Work in order to create an exemplary working model for further research.

 

Camera Work–Inside/Out: Past, Present, and Future of an International Medium of Art and Photography

Starting in the spring 2017, the second stage of the project set out to apply the technological tools created in the first stage to a range of research questions, all centering on aspects of internationality and interconnectedness. Camera Work has had a particularly strong resonance in the Unites States. However, the magazine’s range of influence has from the start reached beyond the borders of its place of publication. Camera Work’s personnel, conditions of production, distribution, and reception as well as its texts and images testify an international connectedness that is remarkable as it is exemplary for its era and its field. The quarterly played a crucial role not only for the establishment and recognition of art photography, but also in the emerging discourses of modernism and the artistic avant-garde. The research team took this fact in combination with its own location at the heart of Europe as a starting point to pose original questions about an object that comes with a considerable history of existing research. The magazine has been examined at once in close inspection of the original (a complete set which has, notably like many others, found its way into a European collection) and, in the project’s geographical distance from the original locus of publication, from an outsider’s perspective: Inside/Out.

The second stage of the research project is built on two main pillars which both imply the issue of Camera Work’s internationality: First, the immanent investigation of linguistic and visual, discursive, and theoretical specifics of the magazine. And second, a comprehensive investigation of the international localization, interconnectedness, distribution, and reception of people, texts, und images which were central for the enterprise of Camera Work as well as of discourses of 20th and 21st century histories of art and photography for whose formation the quarterly was decisive. The approach chosen does justice to the nature of the object in question and promises to deliver new and innovative results. Furthermore, the research focus of stage II of the project on international networks and its concomitant theoretical and methodological challenges mirrors the issues at stake in stage I, the digitization of the journal and application of the methods of the digital humanities.

Lectures, Workshops, Book Launches

 

17 March 2018, Université de Genève, Département d'allemand

More than Genius. The Invention of the Photographic Genius and the Importance of the Journal "Camera Work,"

Lecture by Prof. Dr. Bettina Gockel 

International Study Day "Bebilderte Texte, betextete Bilder. Zum Verhältnis von Fotografie und Text um 1900"

 

6 February 2018, Tokyo, University of the Arts, Department of Art History

More than Genius. Women Career, Photography, and the History of Art

Special Lecture by Prof. Dr. Bettina Gockel

 

4 February 2018, Tokyo, University of Foreign Studies, Workshop Early Photography in Iran

Persia: Places of Longing as Landscapes of the Soul. Photography, the Literature and Poetry of Romanticism and Expressionism, and the Travels of the Swiss Photographer and Writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach

Lecture by Prof. Dr. Bettina Gockel

 

 12 May 2017, Hochschule Luzern, Dept. Technik und Architektur

Workshop Camera Work: Digitalization of Material Architectural and Art History

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Bettina Gockel; Assistant: Dr. des. Patrizia Munforte. Link: Program (PDF, 335 KB)

 

26 April 2017, University of Zurich

Vom Annotieren, Edieren und Referenzieren im digitalen Zeitalter: Aktuelle Beiträge zur Entwicklung einer Forschungsinfrastruktur an der Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg (On Annotating, Editing and Referencing in the Digital Age: Recent Contributions to the Development of a Research Infrastructure at the University Library Heidelberg)

Lecture by Dr. Maria Effinger, University Library Heidelberg

 

24 May 2017, Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich

Book launch Andrés Mario Zervigón, Photography and Germany (Reaktion Books, 2017)

Prof. Dr. Andrés Mario Zervigón, Department of Art History, Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences and Prof. Dr. Bettina Gockel

Teaching Activities

 

Spring Semester 2021

Lecture «Kunst und Humanität» (Prof. Dr. Bettina Gockel)

MA-Seminar «‘Humanist Photography’: Fotografie, Film und Fotobuch am Fallbeispiel Paul Strand» (Prof. Dr. Bettina Gockel)

 

Spring Term 2018 

MA-Seminar «Modernismus in Japan» (Prof. Dr. Bettina Gockel)

BA-Seminar «Manipulierte Fotografie» (Dr. Nanni Baltzer)

Course «Paul Strand—Photography in the Making» (Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kersten)

 

Fall Term 2017

BA-Seminar «Camera Work im Kontext der Digital Humanities» (Prof. Dr. Bettina Gockel, Dr. des. Patrizia Munforte)

MA-Seminar «Piktorialismus» (Prof. Dr. Bettina Gockel, Dr. Nanni Baltzer)

Lecture «Fotografie als Kunst: 1839–1918. Frühe Fotokunst und die Internationale des Piktorialismus» (Dr. Thilo Koenig)

 

References


Bunnell 1998: Peter C. Bunnell, Für eine moderne Fotografie. Die Erneuerung des Piktoralismus, in: Michel Frizot (ed.), Neue Geschichte der Photographie, Cologne 1998, p. 310–326.

Edwards/Hart 2004: Elizabeth Edwards and Janice Hart (eds.), Photographs Objects Histories. On the Materiality of Images (Material Cultures), London/New York 2004.

Frizot 1998: Michel Frizot, Dossier. Die Zeitschrift Camera Work, in: Michel Frizot (ed.), Neue Geschichte der Fotografie, Cologne 1998, p. 327–333.

Füssel/Norrick-Rüh 2014: Stephan Füssel and Corinna Norrick-Rüh, in collaboration with Dominique Pleimling and Anke Vogel, Einführung in die Buchwissenschaft, Darmstadt 2014.

Homer 1983: William Innes Homer, Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession, Boston 1983.

Latour 2005: Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social. An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory, Oxford 2005.

Lukas/Nutt-Kofoth/Podewski 2014: Wolfgang Lukas, Rüdiger Nutt-Kofoth and Madleen Podewski (eds.), Material—Medium. Zur Relevanz editorischer Dokumentationen für die literaturwissenschaftliche Interpretation, Berlin 2014.

North 2005: Michael North, Camera Works. Photography and the Twentieth-Century Word, Oxford/New York 2005.

Roberts 1997: Pam Roberts, Alfred Stieglitz, 291 Gallery und Camera Work, in: Simone Philippi and Ute Kieseyer (eds.), Alfred Stieglitz. Camera Work. The Complete Illustrations, 1903–1917, Cologne/New York 1997, p. 32–61.

 

Bibliography (in progress) (PDF, 197 KB)

 

 


 

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