Since it appeared in 1839 photographic camera was, at least for an elite, a major companion for traveling. Even its historical beginning in England is linked to Talbot’s honeymoon travel to Lake Como and his need to transform his perceptual but floating sensations into immediate and fixed images.
On the other hand, industrialization that brought the steam engine in the 18th century and later the train inscribed tourism and leisure travel inexorably in high classes’ life strategy. In couples, with friends, in family or solitary, traveling merged in the life and imaginary of middle class and triggered a whole business, pioneered in Europe by Thomas Cook British company in 1841.
As far as middle and upper classes were concerned, travelling became quite a compulsion, headed to far marvels like Egyptian Pyramids or Greek ruins, but also to the splendour of the big cities such as Paris, London, Madrid, Rome, etc.. Photography, as a documentary tool that can capture the fugitive perception became a crucial gadget, as we can see it looking to the first daguerreotype album edited by Lerebours, “Excursions Daguerréennes” (1840-1841).
One of the issues at stake in the relationship between travel and photography is what Walter Benjamin called the optical unconscious, which drove from the shift of landscape contemplating to image contemplating, and, in this movement, photography allows subjects to see what had not been effectively seen.
The link between photography and traveling in 19th century became not only a crucial point to any family or individual, but also a major tool for scientific travels, which were exploring colonial frontiers and non-western cultures (in geographical and ethnographic missions, for instance).
Photography stimulates individuals to travel in imagination and this was one of the goals stated from the beginning by the pioneers, which is to say that photography triggered travelling and traveling challenged photography from its very beginnings.
The aim of this conference is to bring deep discussion upon this complex link between photography, travel and the modern subject in the 19th century and beginning of XX (until 1920), a subject to which, as Jonathan Crary pointed out, the tangibility of the world turned to be essentially optical.
The conference will happen in the context of the reopening of the XIX century Madeira’s Photography Museum – Vicente’s Workshop and the exhibit which will have its opening by the time of the conference. The conference will happen at Madeira University, between 24 and 25 October, 2019, in cooperation with Universidade Nova of Lisbon/Faculty of Social and Human Sciences (NOVA FCSH) and NOVA Communication Institute (ICNOVA).
Presentations can be addressed, between other topics, to:
● 19th century travels
● Photography apparatus evolution and in relation to travel and portability;
● Photography and islands landscape and life;
● Madeira Island photography;
● Family travel photography
● Ethnographic travel;
● Geographic expeditions;
● Photographic traveling albuns
● Photography and railway journey imaginary;
● Ship journey stories;
● Travel Photography accounts in 19th century newspapers;
● Stereoscopic views