New project promotes the legacy of photography

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Photographs by Lewis Hine capturing the essence of CLP. Interestingly, says web designer Lauren Parish of the IPI, these images are variously known as Powerhouse Mechanic, Mechanic at Steam Pump in Electric Power House, Man with Wrench and other descriptive titles. The prints in the George Eastman House collection vary not only in descriptive title but in material, content and markings, including different formats, papers, surfaces and image color; variant poses, sitters, and treatments of the subject; and multiple stamps and inscriptions.

The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film together with the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) at Rochester Institute of Technology, will launch a new project, the Center for the Legacy of Photography this September.

The comprehensive website will give details of the Center’s activities and events and there will be an emphasis on academic resources, including access to research papers. General educational reading material will be available to download by users.

Notes on Photographs, which was launched this month, is “a Medium for Inter-Communication for Students, Historians, Collectors and Archivists’ providing a dynamically expanding web-based resource for gathering Notes that enhances knowledge about the significant artifacts of the history of photography”.

Graphics Atlas is “a new online resource that brings sophisticated print identification and characteristic exploration tools to archivists, curators, historians, collectors, conservators, educators, and the general public. The aim is to teach about the photograph’s unique properties and to situate it in the continuum of all graphic prints”.

The Center aims to gather information about 19th and 20th century photographic processes, develop learning tools and share information with the general public via the website. One of the specific goals of the Center is to delineate the difference between traditional silver halide photography (analogue photography), and digital imaging. The material and cultural distinctions of the two mediums will be dealt with by the two institutions.

The Eastman House will focus on the (photographic) specialist and the exploration of ‘photography as art’ through research, while the IPI will focus on chemically-based methods and processes emphasising the physical materiality of the photographs.

The Center will offer a range of workshops for those interested in photographic conservation  and categorization techniques, as well as dealing with concerns around image authentication, among other topics. The project has been made possible by a $2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and will be joint-managed by James Reilly of the IPI and Grant Romer of the George Eastman House.

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Katie Clifford, June 28 2009

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