Daguerreotypes: Fugitive Subjects, Contemporary Objects by Lisa SaltzmanDaguerreotypes: Fugitive Subjects, Contemporary Objects by Lisa Saltzman

Daguerreotypes: Fugitive Subjects, Contemporary Objects

byLisa Saltzman

Hardcover | July 6, 2015

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In the digital age, photography confronts its future under the competing signs of ubiquity and obsolescence. While technology has allowed amateurs and experts alike to create high-quality photographs in the blink of an eye, new electronic formats have severed the original photochemical link between image and subject. At the same time, recent cinematic photography has stretched the concept of photography and raised questions about its truth value as a documentary medium. Despite this situation, photography remains a stubbornly substantive form of evidence: referenced by artists, filmmakers, and writers as a powerful emblem of truth, photography has found its home in other media at precisely the moment of its own material demise.

By examining this idea of photography as articulated in literature, film, and the graphic novel, Daguerreotypes demonstrates how photography secures identity for figures with an otherwise unstable sense of self. Lisa Saltzman argues that in many modern works, the photograph asserts itself as a guarantor of identity, whether genuine or fabricated. From Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz to Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home—we find traces of photography’s “fugitive subjects” throughout contemporary culture. Ultimately, Daguerreotypes reveals how the photograph, at once personal memento and material witness, has inspired a range of modern artistic and critical practices.
Lisa Saltzman is the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Professor in the Humanities and professor and chair of the History of Art Department at Bryn Mawr College. She is the author of Making Memory Matter: Strategies of Remembrance in Contemporary Art, also published by the University of Chicago Press, and Anselm Kiefer and Art after Auschwit...
Title:Daguerreotypes: Fugitive Subjects, Contemporary ObjectsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:232 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 inPublished:July 6, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022624203X

ISBN - 13:9780226242033

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Table of Contents


Introduction:  Daguerreotypes: Fugitive Subjects, Contemporary Objects

One:  Retro-Spectacles: On the Fictions of Contemporary Art Photography

Two:  Orphans: On Émigrés and Images in W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz

Three:  Just Drawings: On Photographs, Fun Home and The Pencil of Nature

Four:  Time Regained: On Stasis and Duration in Contemporary Video Portraits


Illustration Credits

Editorial Reviews

“Saltzman’s wide-ranging study offers up an exhilarating conceptual journey through the terrain of the photographic imagination, where durational time collides with retrospection and identity confronts loss. In this surprising concatenation of objects and practices, Saltzman deftly unfurls an unexpected and wholly original narrative that reveals the psychological functions and cultural fictions of mechanical representation in the digital age.”