Maxwell, Sutton, and the Birth of Color Photography A Binocular Study

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-07-24
  • Publisher: Palgrave Pivot
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The 1861 collaboration between physicist James Clerk Maxwell and photographer Thomas Sutton was a landmark episode in the history of optics and photography, resulting in the famous "Tartan ribbon" image: the first permanent color photograph in history. This focused and incisive study from Maxwell scholar Jordi Cat reassesses this partnership, situating it within the histories of objectivity, experiment, and collaboration. Cat reveals that Maxwell and Sutton were closer to true partners than has commonly been assumed, and shows how their experiments illuminate the role of Victorian technology, representational practices, and modes of participation in Maxwell's natural philosophy.

Author Biography

Jordi Cat is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University, USA. He is the co-author of Otto Neurath: Philosophy Between Science and Politics (1996), and the author of the forthcoming monographs Master and Designer of Fields: James Clerk Maxwell and Constructive, Connective, Conventionalist, and Concrete Natural Philosophy and Physics Beyond Laws and Theories: The Limits of Unity, Universality, and Precision.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: shared media, differing projects and projections
2. Enter Maxwell
3. Photographic illustrations
4. What objectivity? Whose objectivity? Automatic objectivity is social and scientific
5. Photography organized and scientific: from amateurs to professionals
6. Photography as instrument and profession: Art versus science
7. Photographic collaborations: two more cases
8. Maxwell's pictorial and photographic background
9. Methodology of experimental inaction
10. Enter Sutton
11. The place of collaboration and chemistry between men
12. Technologies of projection and color: Different problems and images. Color and truth.
13. A Tale of two experiments: From professional to cognitive autonomy
14. Photographic consequences
15. Conclusion

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