Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The First Photograph

Have you ever wondered what the first photograph made by man was? I never really have wondered about this but I recently discovered that it was by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826. It was taken at his country house in Burgundy, France and made on on pewter. It is currently in an oxygen-free case at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The Ransom Center features a nice on-line exhibition of photographs, including "The First Photograph."

The significance of the "photography revolution" seems always to take a back seat to the revolution that Johannes Gutenberg's printing press started in 1447 in communicating information, in telling stories, and in documenting history and so forth. Post-modern debates in linguistics (or more accurately, "the philosophy of language") commonly challenge the philosophical notion that "the sign really is a signifier for the absent now present" in an attempt —perhaps, unintended— to explain interpretation which leads ultimately to an underminding of the understanding of the reality of being and of objective truth, etc. Perhaps, more thought on the reality "captured" and re-presented to us through photography (and other visual medium) will lead post-modern philosophers and others to a rediscovery of reality and things as they are: A truth independent of impressions, experiences and the like.

Read more about Joseph Niépce and "The First Photograph" here .

Photo: "View from the Window at Le Gras" (1826)
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