Since my computer was pronounced dead in Canada, I needed to get a new one. This was going to be a sizable purchase, so I decided to go to the Apple Store at the Christiana Mall in Delaware, the Land of No Sales Tax.
The trip was successful! A new Little Computer was acquired, as well as some other sale-tax-free items, and I got to hang out with Delaware friends Heather and Dan!
The annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property was held in Ottawa this year. Living in Ottawa and working in conservation, I had heard a fair bit about the special session on public outreach that was planned for the conference, and I was very interested in attending. It also gave me a good reason to go back to Ottawa and hang out with some old friends and colleagues.
A group of Young Conservators, all former or current interns at the ThinkTank, after the conference attendees dinner at the tony Chateau Laurier.
Can you believe that I worked here? (at the National Gallery of Canada)
I had business at the ThinkTank as well. They had just hosted two big workshops (related to the CAC conference) and had their propaganda booth set up outside the staff lunchroom.
Hold up! Who is that wearing the respirator, doing something crazy?
And now for the trials and tribulations:
Crazy stuff always happens whenever Supervisor Greg and I are in the same place. Saturday morning Green Car (my car) died in the parking lot of the ThinkTank - where I was supposed to be giving Supervisor Greg a lift to a garage, where he could pick up his own car. Anyway, as it turned out, Green Car was not driving anywhere on its own power. The Canadian version of AAA was called and Green Car was taken via tow-truck to the garage. Later in the afternoon, during the conference's afternoon break, the diagnosis came. The fuel pump was broken, and I'd be in Canada for at least three more days until Green Car was up-and-running.
That very evening, my Little White Computer died. It made a froze, made a funny clicking sound, and died. I laid on the floor and sulked. The next day I walked it down to the Apple Store in the Rideau Center, where the Geniuses proceeded to confirm my fears. Totally dead. Hard drive failure. Wahhhh.
On the positive side, the car-breakdown gave me a bit of a surprise holiday. I got to visit the National Gallery, go to the movies, hang out with my old roomies, and do a bit of shopping.
When everyone (parents, brother, godparents) came to Philly to help me move from Chez Headley to the Little Apartment, it was on one of the hottest weekends (so far) of the year. Chez Headley is about to undergo a massive phase of destruction, and being that my fellowship has been extended for a second year, it seemed like an optimum time for a potential move. Specifically to someplace close enough for me to walk every where I want to go. (No SEPTA wanted.)
After the move, which thankfully happened during Philly Beer Week 2010, we spent a bit of time taking in the Old City Revolutionary-Era Philadelphia Sites. Treading where Ben Franklin trod. And whatnot.
The Liberty Bell.
In the Visitors' Center where the Liberty Bell is housed, there is an exhibit detailing the history of the bell. At one point, a disembodied voice says, inspirationally, "Why are we so entranced by the Liberty Bell?" Having gazed upon it, then answer to that question is: I have no idea.
Try explaining this to a Canadian: "Ummm... well... it's a musical version of the creation of the Declaration of Independence." Supervisor Greg thought I was joking. Once he figured out that I wasn't, his response was, "Only in America."
The final photographer discussed at the Special Event was Linnaeus Tripe (his father really liked scientific classification). Tripe (April 14, 1822 – March 2, 1902) was born in England and sent to the East India Company as a young man. He started dabbling in photography between 1850 and 1854, where he was on a sick leave. He likely attended the same 1851 Great Exhibition that got Roger Fenton into photography.
When his health returned and he was sent back to India, Tripe began working as an official government photographer, producing images of a British trip to Burma and of important architectural structures throughout southern India. Unfortunately for Tripe, this appointment only lasted for a few years, after which the entire government-sponsored photography program was abandoned. Tripe may have continued photographing after this, but not to the extent that he did while being sponsored.
Arcade in Quadrangle, from the album Photographs of Madura: Part IV, South India, 1858, no. IS.41:4-1889, Victoria and Albert Museum
The East Gopuram of the Great Pagoda, from the album, Photographs of Madura: Part III, South India, 1858, no. IS.40:2-1889, Victoria and Albert Museum
Aisle on the South Side of the Puthu Mundapum, from the Western Portico, from the album Photographs of Madura: Part II, South India, 1858, no. IS.39:3-1889, Victoria and Albert Museum
Mosque (Musjid) of Nuttur Auleah, Madras, India, 1858, no. 33:801, Victoria and Albert Museum
The second photographer we discussed at the Special Event was Timothy O'Sullivan.
Born in New York, O'Sullivan (1840 - January 14, 1882) began working as a teenager for Matthew Brady. Early in the Civil War O'Sullivan served as a first lieutenant in the Union Army. After his discharge, he began working for Brady again, this time as a photographer assigned to follow the Northern Virginia Campaign.
It was during this time that O'Sullivan made one of the most famous images of the Civil War, shortly after the battle at Gettysburg. Observe below:
The Harvest of Death, 1863, 2005.100.502.1, Metropolitan Museum of Art
After the Civil War, O'Sullivan had a nominal base in Washington DC, but spent the majority of his time in the West, where he worked as the official photographer to several survey teams. Unlike Fenton, there are no extant writings by O'Sullivan. This is frustrating for scholars, as there is no record of what he was thinking when he made his photographs. He takes sweeping liberties with the levelness of the horizon, photographs from unusual angles, and generally makes the images more dramatic and unsettling than other landscape photographers of his day. We do know that most of the expedition leaders pretty much let O'Sullivan photograph as he liked.
The Pyramid and Domes, Pyramid Lake, Nevada, 1867, LOT 7096, no, 89, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Karnak, Montezuma Range, Nevada, 1867, LOT 7096, no. 76, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Witches Rocks, Utah, 1869, LOT 7096, no, 19, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
One of the three photographers that the Special Event in DC focused on was Roger Fenton. (Fenton's self-portrait courtesy of wikipedia, who had no idea from where it had gotten it).
Roger Fenton (March 20, 1819 - August 8, 1869) was born in Lancashire, England - his grandfather had earned the family's wealth in trade. He attended the University College London, and afterward took an extraordinarily long time to become a lawyer. He took his time studying law, because he actually wanted to be a painter. He studied with respected historical painters in Paris and London, and attempted to have a few works admitted to the Royal Academy.
He visited the 1851 Great Exhibition and was struck by the photography displays. Soon after he was back in Paris, this time learning how to make calotypes - waxed paper negatives - and salted paper prints. Fenton was a fast learner, and by 1852 he was entering his own photographic work into exhibitions and was instrumental in forming what would later become the Royal Photographic Society.
His first photographs really aren't that great, but before too long something clicked, and Fenton started making some fabulous pictures.
He traveled to Russia, technically to photograph an under-construction bridge, even though there are only like three pictures of the bridge out of scores of others.
Moscow, Domes of Churches in the Kremlin, 1851, National Gallery of Art This is much better is real life. You'll just have to trust me on it.
In 1855 Britain was involved int he Crimean War, and Fenton was commissioned by a publisher named Thomas Agnew to travel to the Crimea and photograph. Fenton took on two assistants, fitted out a large wagon as a traveling darkroom/tent, and field tested it in rural England. After making the necessary adjustments to the wagon, the team sailed for the Crimea.
The Artist's Van, 1855, PH - Fenton (R.), no. 122, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Dromedary, 1855 PH - Fenton (R.), no. 298, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Because of the over 300 images Fenton made in the Crimea, he is noted as the first war photographer. Even though the American Civil War is only a few years away, the 'war' photography done by Fenton is quite different. Fenton never photographs the dead or wounded, whereas the Civil War photographers had no hesitations. Why Fenton made that choice is still unclear.
This is probably the most well-known of Fenton's Crimean photographs. The road is covered with cannonballs fired by the Russians.
The Valley of the Shadow of Death, 1855, PH - Fenton (R.), no. 218, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
These images are of color slides, and they're probably from the mid-nineties, before the photographs were treated. Observe below: very dirty, and with a big loss along the bottom edge. This print looks very different now - much less dirty, tears mended, and losses filled.
Sebastopol with the Redan, Malakoff & Mamelon, 1855, PH - Fenton (R.), no. 122, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division