Conference: within the exhibition William Henry Fox Talbot. At the Origins of Photography


The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts held the Conference within the exhibition ‘William Henry Fox Talbot. At the Origins of Photography’ on March, 21 – March, 22, 2018.

The prime objective of the conference was an analytical comprehension of a new phenomenon in the history of culture – invention of one of photography technologies – negative-positive process, patented by British scientist William Henry Fox Talbot in 1841. In this regard the next range of questions was discussed:
– Concept ‘photographical’ in sociocultural and art meaning;
– Calotype history in England and abroad;
– The peculiarities of the calotype process: the negative and the print;
– The first cameras of the 19th century;
– Copying: technology, possibilities and meaning;
– The peculiarities of the one-layer printing technologies of the 19th century;
– Photogenic drawings, calotype, salt paper print – characteristics and development of the one-layer printing technologies;
– Development of artistic language and representation codes within historical sociocultural practice and progress of modern age.

Document and work of art, technologic and functional entity: all these distinctions of concept ‘photographical’ were connected one way or another with the invention of calotype which refers in virtue of its specific character more to the artistic practice than to the commercial one, which was proved by its history. The phenomenon of early one-layer photography was considered most of all as an aesthetic category. There were discussed equally important questions related to the cultural representative value of the prints, to the problems of their historical existence, collecting, study and advanced storage:
– the methods of restoration and preservation of the early negative-positive prints and negatives;
– the problems of identification of one-layer photographic processes;
– the approach to cataloging and storage of the early photographs on paper in modern cultural institutions.

The conference program

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William Henry Fox Talbot. At the Origins of Photography