By Noam M. Elcott
In exploring how synthetic darkness formed sleek artwork, movie, and media, Noam M. Elcott addresses seminal and imprecise 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 pictures but in addition every little thing surrounding them: the monitor, the darkness, and the adventure of our bodies and house. on the middle of the e-book is “the black screen,” a know-how of darkness that spawned today’s blue and eco-friendly monitors and has undergirded various complicated artwork and movie practices to this day.
Turning usual paintings and movie narratives on their heads, Artificial Darkness is a innovative therapy of an elusive, but primary, point of artwork and media history.
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Extra resources for Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and Media
Stated simply: photographic darkrooms were not dark. At least not to the human observer. ”78 A nonphotographer could legitimately ask: What made the darkroom dark? The manuals answered this question as well. ”79 Contemporaneous manuals regularly featured strong shadows cast by the sun while the darkroom was in use (fig. 10). ”80 Actinic light. Chemical darkness. Darkrooms that must not be dark. We have entered spaces no less foreign to our digital present than they must have been to the eighteenthcentury past.
Alongside “black screen,” Marey advanced a potpourri of terms: 21 \ ar t I F I c I al Dar k N E S S FI g. 4. Marey, black screens from 1886 (at the left) and 1887 (at the rear). Album H, plate 5, Musée Marey, Beaune. “black field” (champ noir),13 “deep” or “dark shed” (hangar profond, obscur),14 dark cavity (cavité obscur), black opening (ouverture noire), black ground (fond noir), and other compound terms steamrolled, in contemporaneous translations, into the English omnibus “dark chamber”15—a particularly maladroit translation as the French equivalent, chambre noire, was reserved for the camera, the appareil photographique.
Yet even these early, ineffective attempts evinced a revolutionary principle whose execution Marey quickly perfected. Unlike Muybridge, who captured movement sequentially with a bank of cameras opposite a white wall, one image per camera, Marey captured multiple exposures on a single, stationary plate. The black screen opposite the camera ensured that (virtually) no light reflected back onto the photographic plate. 11 FI g. 1. 2. Marey, chronophotograph, 1883. 3 cm). Fonds Marey, Collège de France.
Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and Media by Noam M. Elcott