Seite 222 - ArtBook

Basic HTML-Version

recognised as a print fromthe oldest photographic negative in existence. It is clear
that Talbot chose the windownot only because it was part of his immediate environ-
ment but because,more significantly, he understood the importance of extremes
between light and shadow– a play of contrasts between the solid frame and the trans-
parency of the glass that offered hima clear silhouette in both the negative recording
and the positive print.
Talbot’s process was not recognised immediately by the scientific world as it had to
competewith the success of the daguerreotype.When the latter vanished by themid-
1860s, Talbot’s calotype or talbotype eventually laid the grounds for photography as
we know it today; a process of creating a negative image that can be used to produce an
almost endless number of positive images.Talbot’s process allowed photographs to be
enlarged to any required size in the darkroom, and printed onto a lightweight surface.
Because of the latter, photographs using his techniques could be inserted into books
and albums, attached to documents, hung on thewall or sent bymail. In fact, the very
volume you are holding right now could not have beenmadewithout this invention.
Talbot would have us believe that hismethod of recording, or ‘photogenic drawing’
as he called it,was a pure scientificmethod to explain and illustrate academic findings.
His description: ‘Whenfirstmade, the squares of glass about 200 innumber could be
counted,with [the] help of a lens’would certainly testify to thismethod of observing
and quantifying the surroundingworld.Hewent on to produce
The Pencil of Nature
(1842), the first publication of its kind, in order to explain and illustrate the scientific
and practical applications of photography.One of the plates that accompanied the
The OpenDoor
(1844),whichwas singled out as exceptional by the British
press for its ‘microscopic execution that sets at nought thework of humanhands’.
wasmore convincingly described byTalbot’smother as the ‘soliloquy of
the broom’, indicatingTalbot’s own interest in the artistic treatment of themundane
despite his lofty scientific aspirations. Indeed, the careful attention to theway light
and shadow imbue a humble household scenewithpicturesque dimensions reveals
WilliamHenry FoxTalbot 
Die offene Tür / The OpenDoor