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Influence of Louis Jacque Mande Dauguerre

Influence of Louis Jacque Mande Dauguerre

Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre: A Photographic Pioneer
This essay will investigate Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre focusing primarily on his work and his contribution to Photography. Furthermore, this investigative study concentrating on the social, technical, and aesthetic context of his work will explore how he has earned himself the title of a photographic pioneer. Daguerre earned the title as a result of his successful development of the first practical form of permanent photography. (Telegraph, N.D).
Louis Daguerre was a founding father of photography who was born on the 18th of November 1787 in France. (, n.d.) Although Daguerre is now known as a pioneer of photography, he initiated his career as an artist serving first and foremost as a student learning from the leading designer of the Paris Opera. Subsequently, Daguerre assisted the painter of the opera’s magnificent panoramas. The salon exhibited Daguerre’s work in 1814. Only then he could initiate his work as an independent stage designer. He co-founded the Diorama, a means of entertainment based on large paintings on semi-transparent linen through transmitted and reflected light. The lighting may be controlled by various changes of seasons or times of day, and these spectators could witness the implementation of those changes in action. The straightforward camera obscura involves the process of light seeping through a minor opening which can then be facilitated onto a screen to create an exact picture of the subject being exterior to the strongbox or room. Thus, making a difference in Daguerre’s interest in chemically settling pictures (, n.d.)
In his paper Robinson (2016), reveals ‘after the Niépce’s passing, with whom Dauguerre had previously collaborated, Daguerre continued to experiment with the camera which eventually resulted in the invention of the process that was ‘the daguerreotype’. Pinson (2012) states the ‘Daguerreotype was the process in which a permanent photograph, using mercury vapours and iodine – sensitised silvered plating, is achieved. The viewer of the photograph is observant in this scenario due to their ability to identify the picture floating in comparison to other flat photographs – the illusion of reality is what intrigued the viewers. (Anon, n.d.) The image sits on a mirror-like silver surface and is preserved under glass and appears as a ‘positive or negative’ print, depending upon the angle from which the darkest area of the image is bare silver. Those lighter areas have a texture which shows the process of scattering light. This type of photography has a gentle surface and will suffer effortless damage with the lightest of touch.
Ewer, 2008 writes in Gaucheraud, “Fine Arts—The Daguerreotype,” 6 January 1839?, “We have great joy in declaring an important revelation made by M. Daguerre, the distinguished painter of the Diorama. This discovery seems like a prodigy; discombobulating all the theories of science in light and optics and, if accepted, will make a genuine promise to revolutionise the arts of design”. To set the scene, it is 1989 and a crowd had congregated collectively outside the ‘Institut de France’. In the middle of the room in the academy of science and arts, there sat three distinguished men: Louis Daguerre, Isidore Niepce and astronomer François Arago”. (Barger, S. and, White, 2000). The moment in which the revelation of the daguerreotype come to light would prove to be the moment that would change the medium of photography.
Malcolm Daniel, a distinguished specialist of photography, explains with certainty and distinction the ideology of the daguerreotype. First of all, ’highly polished, silver-plated sheet of copper, sensitised with iodine vapours’ are materials you need to complete this process. Then those materials need exposure in a camera obscura which is ordinarily used by painters and artists alike who could glance into what looked like an inverted sense of realism. To ensure the development of the daguerreotype it requires exposure to mercury fumes stirred with salted water. (Daniel M, 2004). Routinely, the object would be framed and often protected with glass. This monochrome picture which could sometimes be hand coloured (Isenburg, M. 2001) and was entirely reliant on upon processes that were both from a chemical and mechanical perspective.
According to Maison Nicephore Niepce. N.D, the first images captured were still life photographs or of landscape variety. The prolonged exposure time of the daguerreotype had proven that people could be captured in photographs. As the exposure time condenses, the images start to represent that of human figures. Before Daguerre’s invention, painting and engraving were the only recorded methods of mass reproduction of art. Many of these daguerreotypes were reserved for those that were wealthy and upper class. They could conserve it as if it would stand through the tests of time. (Mattiso, B. N.D) However, daguerreotypes had a use for an unusual type of photographs which included examinations of autopsy results. Roche, G, N.D a columnist for Premiere explained, ‘post-mortem daguerreotypes were motivated from the artistry of ‘memento mori’ that had previously been utilised to great effect in painting’ . Memento mori was a generalised way of accepting death, for its literal meaning is remember death in Latin. The Daguerreotype functioned as a permanent ‘fix’ for those who wished to maintain the memory of the dearly departed. Daguerre had preserved life, humanity and had immortalised them. Daguerre had found the answer to relieve their heartache: his invention. As a result of this, the daguerreotype had become ubiquitous; frequent use concerning this type of photography had played an essential role in media outlets such as newspapers and magazines. His invention was widely acclaimed and sought after due to its rapid success. Sekula (2014) emphasised that the daguerreotypes worldwide success, originating in Europe and gaining popularity in New York, owed itself to the grand design and presentation by Louis Daguerre.
Despite its success, the daguerreotype lived for twenty years; the daguerreotype had several faults and shortcomings that made it susceptible to competition from emerging technology. To obtain a picture, it took between three and thirty minutes to obtain a fully developed photograph. (Danforth, n.d.) Compared to modern digital photography, this process is a dull task for those that prefer to work at a swift pace. From my perspective as a modern photographer, the task of remaining still seems to have proved tedious for those subjects, thus justifying the lack of expression displayed in historical photographs. The fragility of the daguerreotype was problematic. They faded over time and needed restoration to revert to their former glory.
These photographs could not be duplicated; for every daguerreotype was distinctive in its own way. The only method to distribute these photographs amongst peers was through the act of seeing or viewing. Moreover, new competitors had arisen, thus adding to the flaws that already existed concerning Daguerre’s invention. These new rivals had marked the culmination of the daguerreotype, more notably the calotype device in 1841, and prosecuted those who used the calotype, preventing it from spreading as quickly as its counterpart. Another factor that made the calotype so popular was its printing process as a result of the use paper and proved more sustainable.
‘Boulevard du Temple’ is the first recorded image documenting a person by Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, c. 1838. ‘Boulevard du Temple’ captured a shopper getting his shoe polished by a shoe polisher in a seemingly vacant street in Paris; it was recorded on a copper sheet coated with bare silver and later on was developed with mercury fumes. The twist and turns of the bustling avenues of Paris were captured by Daguerre. Bellis (2013) stated that the shutter speed used for ‘Boulevard du Temple’ was between ten to fifteen minutes. Therefore, those who were not fixed did not appear on film due to the length of its shutter speed. Had the exposure been anything less than a couple of minutes they would not have been seen in the frame of the image. These two individuals are placed aesthetically, thus mirroring the position of the compositional rule of thirds technique.
To conclude, the investigation concerning the influence of Louis Daguerre in the world of the ‘arts’ has, in my opinion, been successful. It has proven that his work has changed how we perceive photography; he has revolutionised it! Daguerre has also paved the path to contemporary photography. It serves part of our everyday lives. Photography ranges from being used clinically to being used for advertisement purposes. Furthermore, the up-rise of social media has aided the development of photography while playing a significant role in the distribution of photography. Without Dauggerres invention, photography would not be the medium we have now come to know. Daguerre explicitly demonstrates the way in which an inventor chooses to publish their creation is imperative to its success. The decision to publish one’s findings – a decision an artist must consider – is entirely a decision that must be fueled by their judgement. However, one may decide to mirror Talbot’s behavior and may decide to keep their findings private. Despite this, it has become clear that regardless of whether a development spreads at a fast pace, it does not ensure that its successor will not outperform it. Although there was no elongated timeframe with the daguerreotype, it will remain a poignant turning point in photographic history.
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Artworks that Challenge China’s Political System

Compare two artworks that are overtly challenging the political system.
Modern China in recent times has gone through a surplus of political changes, much like the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s through the implementation of Chairman Mao and his leadership. This essay will explore two works that question and challenge the political system in China. Ai Weiwei’s “Sunflower Seeds” and Xiao Lu’s “Dialogue,” both of these pieces have proved to be extremely provoking by opening up a discourse about the problems within China’s political framework. Usually on the topic of human rights, and economic issues that the system fails to address.
Xiao Lu is famed for her work, “Dialogue” in 1989 during the opening of the China avant-garde show. In this work, also known as the “pistol shot event” Lu shot at her installation for her graduate assignment. She was encouraged by her professors to explore contemporary art tactics in relation to the project. For her final project, Lu had set up an installation including two telephone poles flanking a mirror with a red telephone appearing to be off the hook. Inside the telephone poles one contains an image of a man and one a woman. To further the performance she shot two bullets at the piece, dubbing it the “pistol shot event”. When this occurrence took place, there was complications with the arrest of Lu’s friend, seeing as the Chinese authorities saw this as a terror attack and not artistic intent. With that said, Xiao Lu returned to China, fifteen years later and re-created her performance piece “Dialogue” with the only different being fifteen gun shots fired instead of two. To represent the number of years she was away.
The project was created on the grounds of her emotions. During her childhood, she was a victim of rape, and through out her childhood, which is the cause of her crippling relationships with men. In an interview with Monica Merlin (2018) Lu states, “ I could not talk to him about anything (her partner at the time). I felt like I could not communicate with men. Dialogue was about that.” The lack of communication plays into the reason for the phone being off the hook. Moreover, Lu had gone through most of her life up until 1989 keeping quiet and repressing her true feeling, as no one who understand, or possibly believe her. To which she created and named her piece “Dialogue” in response to all of her emotions. With that said, when her piece was first made, she had difficulties in explaining what it was all about, she attempted to give it a political and social explanation but she felt that it was not true to the work and what it stood for. For which she explains that this project, has been influenced by psychology, a way to write out or perform emotions which had been silenced for a long duration of time. With that said, the piece to most people has been read as a, “ artistic reflection on modernity’s violent rupture (Borgonjon, 2017)” Which runs parallels with the shots at Tiananmen Square. With that said there has been quite the conflict in the meaning of this work, many deeming it political, whilst she claims it to be not. This creates a context of an artist versus society. On the other hand, this work can be seen as a political piece, only by the means of female and women rights. In all, Xiao Lu has created new dialogue for women in art and in China, by making them seen and heard through her emotions and experiences.
In 2010, one of the most vitally important artists in contemporary Chinese art, who is known for his contentious works, covered the floor in Tate Modern with a thousand square meters in sunflower seeds. These seeds were created by over 1,600 artisans which resulted in over one hundred million manmade seeds and weighing 150 tonnes . Every seed was individually molded, painted and fired, rendering them nuanced from each other. Moreover they were conceived in the city of Jingdezhen, which is the city famed for its imperial porcelain from centuries past. To resume, the seeds were exhibited on the floor covering it completely, with the ability for the people to walk overtop of the seeds, and touch them as an interactive exhibition. After a few weeks, the public was rendered impressed by the mass amount of seeds, yet instead of being natural as one may first assume upon seeing the seeds at first glance, they were all individually handcrafted. Furthermore the label ‘made in China’ makes one think twice about this preconceived notion. In todays growing economy may countries utilize the cheapest places to mass produce commercial goods and in most cases, that is China. With that said, “much is still made by hand in an economy where machines are expensive and labour is cheap (The Art Story, n.d.).” Which is an interesting point to note, seeing as everyone assumes that everything is machine made with the cheapest materials. But Ai Weiwei’s exhibit serves as a reminder of the identity of Chinas most prized export, porcelain. A craftsmanship that requires a high level of skill, and the best quality could not be created with machines of any kind.
In terms of the history of the sunflower seeds they were always in people’s pockets, no matter their socio-economic status. For Ai, they are reminiscent of the happy times with companions, but also ones of hardship and hunger for the lower class. With that said, each seed is seen as its own artwork, all 100 million of them. Suggesting that each seed is a representation of an any individual that makes up a population of China. The, “ubiquitous discarded husks provided evidence of an individuals existence (Public Delievery, n.d.).” In regards to the metaphors that sunflowers play into Chinese politics is simple. The way that sunflowers move towards the sun, therefore, the sun represents Chairman Mao and the sunflowers are the people. Unfortunately this jubilant ideals of Mao was riddled with oppression and violence. Which Ai Weiwei had experienced, though persecution in China. Could the idea of oppression be emulated through the ability of visitors to step up and walk all over the seeds?These symbols help to shines a light on the grave nature of the sunflower seeds, having them evoke both happy and melancholic memories and realties.

On the subject of comparing these are works, they both play upon their own experiences and memories that they had in China, through they are polar opposite emotions each create through provoking pieces that create discourses about China and its policies. Ai Weiwei’s work, “was a clever pretext for calling attention to a politically sensitive issue (The Art Story, n.d.)” Being the way China in perceived in creating commercial goods and the realities of hardship and hunger for the less fortunate in China. One of the largest difference between the artists work besides being rendered with different materials and media is the artist’s gender. Unlike Ai Weiwei and his success, Xiao Lu had struggled to gain notoriety in the contemporary art world as a female. She was dismissed when she inquired about shooting her installation in 1989. Lu states she, “would have talked to them (the art directors). But at the time, I was an obscure nobody in their eyes, and a woman too (Merlin, 2018).” She further goes on to say that, “suggesting that it [the performance] does not involve politics or social impact, the work suddenly becomes worthless. This is the context for Chinese contemporary art. And if it is made by a woman, it is deemed to be worth even less (Merlin, 2018).” Lu’s ideas about the project were misconstrued. Her friend, Tang Song, had put it in a social and political meaning, but Xiao Lu denied this, which made critics and the public deem it as worthless because she is a female, and the performance was only driven by emotion. This circumstance has created arguably a new political discourse for women in contemporary Chinese art and in China. In all, both of these works have in their own way challenged and unintentionally called into question the problems and ideologies of the political and social systems in China. Giving a voice to the people who have been silenced or oppressed though out the years under China’s communist party.

With all things considered, as aforementioned. both of these works provoke the political system and call into question the problems, and injustices that need to be addressed. Through self-reflection of happy and turbulent memories. As for Ai Weiwei his work on “sunflower seeds” is seen as a, “unrelenting use of an optional framework for his art and his inventiveness in terms of media, ideology, and stylistic experimentalism (Molesworth, 2011, p.29).” His work has stunning the world over with his mass produced yet handcrafted seeds, disrupting the notions people have about goods made in China. As for Xiao Lu, her work and life hasn’t not been easy. Yet through her work in “Dialogue” it showcases the ideology of an artist versus society, even though she may not believe that her piece is political it has opened up a discourse that ironically has become somewhat political through the viability of female artists and women in general.
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Molesworth, C. (2011) “Listening to and Looking at Ai Weiwei.” Salmagundi, no. 172/173 : 28-40.
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