Photographs and Illustrations for U.S. Surveys, 1850-1890
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Although the name of one author may grace the cover, overlapping communities produce a book. This book emerged out of a dissertation written under the guidance of Henri Zerner, and his magnanimous and wise care deserves much credit for whatever merit it possesses. Another member of my dissertation committee, Eric Rosenberg, has been a splendid interlocutor for the past decade, and to him ...
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This book is about pictures, style, and power outside the usual domain of art. Between 1850 and 1890, several U.S. geological or geographical surveys produced extraordinary sets of illustrations and photographs. Although museums and historians have long valued some of these pictures, their distinctive appearance has remained puzzling. Consider, for example, a photograph from 1873 by Timothy H.
1. Arthur Schott: Marking the Mexican Boundary
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A desert scene exhibits peculiar qualities (fig. 3). It divides between a narrow foreground of painstakingly rendered elements and an expanse of schematic topography, thus eschewing the continuity of recession landscapists usually prize. It presents, in the manner of a natural hieroglyph, a compact arrangement of organic and animated signs. A leafy tip of a cactus stalk at left echoes a flag at center ...
2. Timothy H. O’Sullivan: Surveys of the American West
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Timothy H. O’Sullivan’s survey photography has become a standard item in histories of photography and art (figs. 1, 2). As I noted in the Introduction, the literature on it has been largely split between writers who trace its appeal to the photographer’s modernist intuition, his “innate feeling for contour and the abstract forms of terrain and rock,” and those who deemphasize its modernistic qualities.1 This chapter relates the modernist look of these photographs to historical circumstances rather than personal intuition. In it I argue that O’Sullivan strategically ...
3. C.C. Jones: The USGS Investigation of the Charleston Earthquake
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On September 3, 1886, a photographer named Charles Clifford Jones, known as C. C. Jones, arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, with a geologist named WJ (no periods) McGee. Both Jones and McGee were employees of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), established by Congress in 1879 in the Department of the Interior. The USGS had sent the two men to Charleston to investigate and record ...
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The preceding chapters have argued that the historical circumstances of survey production fostered new pictorial approaches. Makers of survey pictures had to satisfy vague and contradictory bureaucratic needs, adapt old habits to new tasks, and address viewers with disparate expectations, including some who doubted the pictures’ value and legitimacy as public records. The forces shaping new approaches came both from above, in the directives and filtering of supervisors, and from below, in ...
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Page Count: 286
Publication Year: 2007