Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and by Noam M. Elcott

By Noam M. Elcott

Darkness has a heritage and a uniquely sleek shape. unique from evening, shadows, and synthetic mild, “artificial darkness” has been overlooked—until now. in reality, managed darkness was once necessary to the increase of images and cinema, technological know-how and spectacle, and a century of complex paintings and movie. Artificial Darkness is the 1st booklet to historicize and theorize this phenomenon and map its purposes throughout a number of media and paintings forms.

In exploring how synthetic darkness formed glossy artwork, movie, and media, Noam M. Elcott addresses seminal and vague works along their websites of production—such as images darkrooms, movie studios, and laboratories—and their websites of reception, together with theaters, cinemas, and exhibitions. He argues that artists, scientists, and entertainers like Étienne-Jules Marey, Richard Wagner, Georges Méliès, and Oskar Schlemmer revolutionized not just photographs but in addition every little thing surrounding them: the reveal, the darkness, and the adventure of our bodies and area. on the center of the ebook is “the black screen,” a expertise of darkness that spawned today’s blue and eco-friendly displays and has undergirded a number of complicated paintings and picture practices to this day.

Turning widely used artwork and picture narratives on their heads, Artificial Darkness is a progressive therapy of an elusive, but primary, point of paintings and media history.

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Extra resources for Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and Media

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In films like The Barbershop (1894), Edison’s crew partially or completely interposed stage flats between the black tunnel and the camera, thereby negating the black screen. 117 Edison’s black tunnel all but reversed the basic terms of Marey’s black screen. Exemplary was Blacksmith Scene, the first commercial motion picture filmed in the Black Maria (April 1893) and among the handful of films shown at the first public exhibition of the Kinetoscope at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Science (May 9, 1893; fig.

Negative: Album H, plate 4, Musée Marey, Beaune. 5 An entrepreneurial photographer rather than a scientist, Muybridge successfully captured a galloping horse midstride on a series of photographic plates. Impressed by the sharpness of the images but disappointed by the lack of methodological rigor, Marey set out to improve on Muybridge’s work. In an effort to render his own graphic method photographic, Marey turned to the black screen. The principle behind black screens was timeless: a properly arranged light trap whose impermeable darkness appeared like a two-dimensional, absolutely black screen.

Exemplary was Blacksmith Scene, the first commercial motion picture filmed in the Black Maria (April 1893) and among the handful of films shown at the first public exhibition of the Kinetoscope at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Science (May 9, 1893; fig. 14). The roughly half-minute-long film depicts F Ig . 1 4. Thomas Edison, Blacksmith Scene, frame enlargements, 1893. Courtesy US Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Thomas Edison National Historical Park. 43 \ ar t I F I c I al Dar k N E S S F I g .

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