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    Colour photography in Britain,1906-1932: exhibition, technology, commerce and culture - the dynamics that shaped its emergence

    Freeston, Janine Price (2022) Colour photography in Britain,1906-1932: exhibition, technology, commerce and culture - the dynamics that shaped its emergence. MPhil thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    This thesis examines the making of paper and transparency chemical colour photographs in the early twentieth century and the unique social tensions and technical challenges associated with it. An exploration of The First Exhibition of Colour Photography in Great Britain in 1906, chronologically interspersed by smaller trichromatic exhibitions and ending with the 1931 Exhibition of Colour Photography in the Service of Mankind, this thesis provides new understanding about the nature of colour photography in Britain by examining original exhibits. Based on extensive archival research, this thesis sheds light on the complex technological, cultural and organisational relationships negotiated by colour photographers, who, I maintain, were determined to develop chemical colour photography through experimentation, demonstration and display. During this era, colour photography was reliant on the tinkering of amateur photographers and also experimental commerce compounded by technological issues in relation to the display of slides. This contributed to colour photography’s low status in museum exhibitions and archives compared to its monochrome fore runners for most of the 20th century. The separate taxonomies of commercial, scientific, aesthetic and hagiographic histories of trichromatic photography have failed to pay attention to the technological, cultural and organisational relationships negotiated by colour photographers. Through the conjoining of principles from histories of both colour photography and exhibitions, alongside analysis of sites within the British photographic societies that have addressed colour photography, a more cogent history emerges, demanding a reappraisal of colour photography within institutional archives. This thesis’ argument was developed through my research findings in diverse archives including those of the Science Museum, Kodak Museum and Urban Film at the National Science and Media Museum, the Royal Photographic Society Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, the Cromer Museum, the Museum of the History of Science, the Bodleian Library and numerous private collections. In the absence of illustrated catalogues and coherent descriptions of the material objects, I have identified original colour photographs through the analysis of contemporaneous literature, journals, correspondence and records. These materials from and about significant exhibitions offer insight into making and using trichromatic images. These findings substantiate the importance of a unique twentieth-century network operating between science, minor commerce and artisanal practitioners that endured tensions and reservations from established monochrome industries and traditional photographic societies. This novel collaboration sustained the development of colour photography over a quarter of a century, warranting a re-evaluation of the dialogue concerning the challenges associated with shaping nascent trichromatic photography. Therefore, this thesis establishes the broader perspective required to comprehensively explore the lesser written histories of twentieth-century colour photography.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: 2 Volumes. Volume 1: text, Volume 2: illustrations and glossary and biographies.
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2022 14:21
    Last Modified: 16 Jun 2024 00:10
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/49830
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.18743/PUB.00049830

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