stereoscopics

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9

Jim Naughten: Animal Kingdom

Jim Naughten is an artist who understands the transformative
effects that photography can have on a subject. In each of
his previous projects he has been concerned with reanimating
history. His latest images of Victorian and Edwardian zoo-
logical specimens continue this overarching visual enquiry
but incorporate in addition a fascinating venture into three-
dimensional imaging. They are captivating enough even when
seen in two dimensions. But once you plunge into the marvel
of their stereoscopic depth you are transfixed. Through the
act of viewing, an intangible transformation takes place. While
the photographs exist in physical form on paper, they also live
as an experience, a beautiful illusion held in the mind. 

Martin Barnes
Senior Curator of Photographs
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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4

“Black Chronicles II is part of a wider ongoing project called The Missing Chapter,” says Mussai, “which uses the history of photography to illuminate the missing chapters in British history and culture, especially black history and culture. There is a widespread misconception that black experience in Britain begins with the arrival of the Empire Windrush and the first Jamaican immigrants in 1948, but, as this exhibition shows, there is an incredible archive of images of black people in Britain that goes right back to the invention of photography in the 1830s.”

From top:  

  • Sara Forbes Bonetta. Brighton, 1862. Photograph: Courtesy of Paul Frecker collection/The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography
  • Unidentified sitter, c. 1881. Missionary Leaves Association. Courtesy Paul Frecker collection / The Library of Nineteenth Century Photography 
  • Unidentified sitters, c. 1870s. Courtesy Paul Frecker Collection  
  • Eleanor Xiniwe, The African Choir, 1891-93. London Stereoscopic Company. Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Read more.

Stereoscopy (also called stereoscopics) is a technique for creating or enhancing the illusion of depth in an image by means of stereopsis for binocular vision. Most stereoscopic methods present two offset images separately to the left and right eye of the viewer (as in this case). Printed on a card backing, the stereo view card is placed in a viewer and these two-dimensional images are then combined in the brain to give the perception of 3D depth. Highly popular in the latter half of the nineteenth century, they largely fell out of use by the first quarter of the twentieth century. The two cards reproduced here are part of a set of 23 stereo view cards discovered last week in the Photographic Archive. All depict views of Downside Abbey and they are interesting as they not only represent a now obsolete technology, but they show Downside when the abbey church lacked its nave and the tower had not yet received its final storey.