Friday, April 01, 2005

Two vanishing books

Kevin Salatino's Incendiary Art: The Representation of Fireworks in Early Modern Europe (Getty, 1997) is a slim catalogue that tracks the history of pyrotechnics by following the fine and applied arts in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe. Unfortunately, there is no evidence of the exhibition that I can find on the web. Luckily, though, the record lingers: 18th c. peep-shows and a glass diorama, in particular, are striking.

Shelley Rice's Parisian Views (MIT Press, 1997) is a rich, finely-wrought book that examines the birth of photography, a development that coincided with the birth of the modern in Paris. The text, a series of essays, is liberally supplemented with images from the City of Light, engaged in a massive reconstruction dating from the 1860s. The author begins by noting that photography, and especially the photography of the mid-nineteenth-century, was an event or process embodied in an object: this metaphor is extended to suggest that photographs (and, hence, our memory) of a changing city materially affect how we regard the "new," remade place.


Post a Comment

<< Home