Day of Data Spring Discussion Series: The Language of the Photographic Print
Texture, gloss, color, and sheet thickness—the defining characteristics of photographic paper—meaningfully contribute to the visual impact of a print. By the early 1920s, these features were routinely described in marketing materials and for the working darkroom photographer, directly on paper packages. Experienced photographers gained fluency in this language, encoding in their prints meaning and intention that present-day viewers can recognize and interpret. Past and ongoing projects demonstrate how these data, aggregated and shared across collections, can address vital scholarly questions of attribution, working practices, stylistic development, and spheres of artistic influence.
The talk will be given by Paul Messier, the inaugural head of Yale University’s Lens Media Lab (LML). The LML researches the material history of photography and, through the development of tools and methodologies, makes this history useful and accessible to a wide range of scholars in the humanities and sciences. Prior to being at Yale, Paul established and developed one of the world’s leading private conservation practices in photograph conservation. In this capacity he served as an advisor and consultant for collectors, dealers, and institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, Harvard University, the Library of Congress, and the State Hermitage Museum. A core asset of the LML, Paul created a reference collection of photographic paper which is considered to be the largest of its kind in the world.
This is one of the talks in the Day of Data Spring Discussion Series sponsored by Yale University Library, Yale Institution for Social & Policy Studies, & Yale Center for Research Computing.