Amanda Couch (University for the Creative Arts Farnham, and Creative Arts Education), ‘Dust, (photographic) grain, livers and me’
For ‘Antiquity and Photography’, I will present ‘Dust, (photographic) grain, livers and me’, in the form of images and words which act, as Francis Bacon termed, like ‘a long call from antiquity’. I will discuss works from a series collectively called ‘The Three Magic Particles: Light, Dust and Photographic Grain’, specifically ‘Dust Passing’, 2009 and ‘Pompeiian Inversions’, 2012, which explore the notion of dissolving, excavation and generation through time, the body, and translation. The works utilise the conceptual and physical construct of the pinhole camera and/or camera obscura, to create images that are often transient, elusive, yet physical. And they also employ the destructive as well as transformative and generative power of dust serving as both medium and metaphor.
I will also share more recent works, which are speculative, and in progress, that draw on histories of the body, ancient practices of haruspicy, and artefacts that document, translate and pass on these knowledges. In the works in progress, ‘A Woman Holding a Liver’, and ‘Babylonian Biscuits’, the lens of the digital camera acts as a witness to time-based actions, performances, and the research and making processes, as well as documenting the ephemeral results. Here, the ubiquity of digital photography and the prevalence of the internet means I am able to easily and immediately access images of ancient artefacts held in museums all over the world, and engage with, and draw upon and exploit the work of classics scholars who are translating and interpreting this ancient knowledge.
Shelley Hales (University of Bristol), ‘Commemorating the Dead: Pompeian corpses and post-mortem photography’
Zena Kamash (Royal Holloway, University of London), ‘Site Seeing: visitor photography at Pompeii from the late 19th century to the present day’
This paper explores the patterns and movements in archaeological photography from the 19th century to the present day, using visitor photography at Pompeii as a case study. I will look at the networks of influences that made up a collection of 277 lantern slides held at the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford. Using these photographs we can investigate how knowledge about Pompeii moved around and was created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries via visitors, commercial photographers, authors of fiction and academics. I will also explore how these networks have repercussions into the present day by exploring the prevalence of ‘flagship’ (or iconic) photographs at Pompeii as show through TripAdvisor photographs.
Jill Mitchell (University of Wales Trinity Saint David), ‘How to Record Life Moments: Photography as a means of recreating moments of a life in antiquity’
Photography has been used since its beginnings as a means of recording the past and thanks to its magic, we have images both of people and locations dating back to the earliest days of photography in the 1840s. From its inception, photography was an essential tool, used both to record historical locations and in the developing science of archaeology.
This paper examines the use of photography in what might be called “biography”; in other words how a series of relevant photographs each linked to each other can be used to situate an historical personage within their own physical space and setting – and thus in a moment or moments of their own period of time. This process allows us to view to view a location associated with an historical individual almost as if we were present in it, with him or her, at a particular point of history.
I am currently finishing a PhD in Classics through the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David on the late fourth-century senator, orator and pagan Quintus Aurelius Symmachus entitled “The Religious World of Quintus Aurelius Symmachus”. In this, I have used photography, adopting the methodology described above in two chapters which are concerned with the changing religious topography of late fourth-century Rome, and the altering of religious space from pagan to Christian.
This paper will therefore demonstrate how I have utilised this procedure to situate Symmachus within his religious world in both Rome itself and its environs, so that by envisaging and placing him in this way at particular moments of his life by the use of photo-biography, we can better understand the man himself, the places he was associated with and his Late Antique world.
Joanna Paul (Open University), ‘Time’s Relentless Melt: capturing Pompeii in contemporary art photography’
Alison Rosenblitt (University of Oxford), ‘E. E. Cummings’ Paganism and the Photography of Marion Morehouse’
We don’t normally think of the American modernist E.E. Cummings as a Classically-influenced poet. With his experimental form and syntax, his irreverence, and his rejection of the highbrow, there are probably very few current readers who would name Cummings if asked to identify twentieth-century Anglophone poets in the Classical tradition. But for most of his life, and even for ten or twenty years after his death, this is how many readers and critics did see Cummings. Cummings specialised in the study of Classical literature as an undergraduate at Harvard, and his contemporaries saw him as a “pagan” poet or a “Juvenalian” satirist, with an Aristophanic sense of humour.
This paper considers Cummings’ paganism in the last literary work of Cummings’ lifetime, Adventures in Value (1962). Adventures in Value was a collaborative book juxtaposing text by Cummings with photographs taken by his third wife, the photographer Marion Morehouse. Archival research into Cummings’ personal library reveals a copy of Hugh Chisholm’s Hellas; a tribute of classical Greece: sixty-four photographs by Hoyningen-Huene (1943)—a book which also juxtaposes text with photographs of (in this case) classical Greek ruins. The similarities in conception and layout of Hellas and Adventures in Value are striking and suggest that the whole project of Adventures in Value was conceived under the influence of Chisholm’s Hellas.
This paper concentrates on three of the photographs from Adventures in Value and their accompanying texts. These photographs are titled by Cummings: ‘ΕΛΕΦΑΣ’, ‘John Finley’ (the Harvard Classicist, of whom this photograph is a portrait), and ‘MOIPA’. These three photographs together construct a certain kind of paganism. I use this paper to argue that they are built around themes which are key to Cummings’ interaction with the Classical tradition: ideas of “value”, nobility, and Classical protectors.
Clemence Schultze (University of Durham), ‘Borrowed authority: photography in reconstructing the Parthenon’
The heyday of photographically illustrated books (i.e. those with actual photographs individually mounted in every copy) was from c.1850 to c.1880. Several thousand titles are known; while topography and history predominate, the method was used for topics from natural sciences to novels and poetry.
Architect, antiquarian and classical scholar Edward Falkener (1814-1895) published (as author and editor) several works on the art, architecture and culture of the ancient world. Confident in his scholarship and practical experience as architect, draughtsman and excavator, Falkener was a keen polemicist, who took on Ruskin and others in asserting the superiority of classical art over modern and mediaeval.
Some of his books employ the then-new method of photographic illustration side-by-side with older technologies. In his 1860 publication Daedalus, or, The causes and principles of the excellence of Greek sculpture, and some associated works, Falkener examines numerous classical examples with a view to improving current sculptural practice. There is a clear hierarchy in the means of illustration: photographs (from originals or casts) are used for ancient sculpture, with chromolithographs for a few cases where colouring matters. By contrast, the imperfect modern works to which he objects (on grounds of incorrect conception or execution) rate only wood-engravings in the text.
The book’s photographic frontispiece is significant: it shows Falkener’s reconstruction of the interior of the Parthenon, with domed ceiling and hypaethral opening. The colossal statue of Athena is fronted by massed worshippers, tiny figures in ecstatic attitudes. The image is described as ‘photographed from a drawing by E.F.’– a drawing which, given its fine detail, must have been substantially larger than the resulting photograph. The employment of photography evidently aims to confer authority borrowed from the medium’s use in illustrating ‘real’ objects upon Falkener’s controversial reconstruction.
Katy Soar (University of Sheffield), ‘Framing the Minoans: Representing Knossos in early twentieth century postcards’
Sir Arthur Evans’ excavations at the Palace of Knossos on Crete were the beginning of the development of what is now the most popular tourist spot on the island. From the very start, this site was created to be a living monument, a theatre of the past, which acted as a microcosm for Evans’ vision of the Minoans. This vision was authenticated through experience; this paper seeks to examine the use of postcards as a form of experience.
This paper investigates the production of postcards of the palace at the beginning of the 20th century. In particular, this paper examines the role of postcards in the creation of Knossos as a site of archaeological discourse and their role in place-making – the creation of iconic sites. Drawing on Goffman’s theory of frame-making, it will examine the postcard as an interpretive frame which is used by viewers to interpret, make sense of, and shape contemporary ways of viewing the past. This is particularly relevant for postcards, whose very purpose is to be mobile, and to circulate within networks of people that are physically distant from the site they represent. As such, the images they promote and attempt to authenticate affect not just the site visitor, but permeate society at all levels, authenticating archaeological discourse even amongst those who have never visited the site.
Ian Walker (University of South Wales), ‘Photographing the Parthenon frieze at one remove’
Frieze is a body of photographs taken by myself, depicting casts and copies of the Parthenon Frieze found in a wide range of places. The sites include public buildings such as museums, civic centres and art schools, but I have also recorded casts in private homes, gardens and shop windows.
I began photographing these in the UK in the 1990s and my first examples were found in Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Manchester, Blackpool and Edinburgh as well as London. Recent internet research has enabled me to seek out other examples in Europe (Paris, Berlin and Istanbul) and the USA (Seattle, Chicago and New York).
My intention with this paper is to present a number of these photographs and, through them, discuss the way that such photographs of plaster casts in situ might connect with larger questions about the role of antiquity in Western culture.
Within that context, casts of the Parthenon Frieze have a particularly resonant and enduring role. But this positioning is not single or simple and each copy has its own meaning in its particular setting. Together they build a varied set of cultural and pictorial meanings.
Behind these images, there of course hovers the fraught question of where the actual Parthenon Marbles should be located. This project does not provide an answer, but it does suggest that the embedding of an artwork in an alien context, far from its site of origin or native habitat, opens up new meanings, new resonances.
But then this is what photographs also do. Photos and plaster casts share an indexical connection with an original source, but at the same time, both media create an unsettling sense of removal from that original. But what happens when one takes a photograph of a cast? Is the sense of disturbance redoubled?