Posted in communication and networking, electronic imaging and displays, literature

The dual nature of photography

I spend a lot of time talking about photography on this site, both for its artistry and its science. One researcher, Kelley E. Wilder, recently explored just this dynamic in her paper “Photography and the art of science,” featured in the September 2009 issue of the journal Visual Studies.

 In her abstract, she writes:

“Photography and science have a symbiotic relationship; they always have. It was in the context of science that photography was first announced to the public by Fran ois Arago in 1839. And it was the rhetoric of observation and objectivity that was so beloved of scientists in the mid-nineteenth century that photography very soon acquired. It was, in fact, photography’s close ties to science that hindered its bid to claim fine-art status. It is photography’s close and continued ties to science that have also been utilised by artists through the decades,…The paper will take up the conflicting rhetorics of passivity and control, mechanical and creative, showing how each is used in its place, but always emphasising the back-and-forth, the give-and-take between science and art. It will be argued that photography’s dual nature is exactly what makes it interesting to artists, and what makes it valuable to the sciences.”

Here, here!

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Photography and the art of science
Kelley E. Wilder
Visual Studies, 1472-5878, Volume 24, Issue 2, 2009, Pages 163 – 168



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.