Jennifer Tucker (Wesleyan University & Visiting Fellow, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities) presents ‘Picturing Modernization: Vision, Modernity and the Technological Image in Humphrey Jennings’ Pandaemonium’ as part of Birkbeck’s History and Theory of Photography Research Centre lecture series on March 9th at 6pm.
Humphrey Jennings’ Pandaemonium: Coming of the Machines is one of the earliest histories to compose the historical narrative of modernization as a series of ‘images’ in popular historical imagination. The book consists of a scrapbook compilation of writings from 1660 to 1886 that Jennings collected and annotated between 1938 and 1950, when he died (aged 42). Never brought to completion during his lifetime, excerpts were published in 1938, in an issue of the London Bulletin edited by Jennings, but it was only finally published as a book in 1985, over thirty years after his death. (The director of the London Olympics opening ceremony, filmmaker Danny Boyle, said he was inspired by images in Pandaemonium in his effort to tell a story about Britain’s place within the modern world). In this talk Dr Tucker will explore the nature and significance of Pandaemonium as a source in the long history of the visualization of modernity, considering the ways in which science and technology, through the Industrial Revolution, not only shaped the natural and industrial topography, but also informed ideas, language, perceptions, emotions and imagination of the inner landscape.
Jennifer Tucker is a historian of modern Britain at Wesleyan University in CT, where she teaches the history of science and technology and visual studies; and a Visiting Fellow at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities (January – April 2016). Her first book, Nature Exposed: Photography as Eyewitness in Victorian Science (released in paperback, 2013) explored the history of debates over photography and visual objectivity in Victorian science and popular culture. As a US-UK Fulbright Scholar in the History of Art at the University of York in 2014, she conducted research for a second book-length project, recently completed, titled Identity after Photography: The Great Tichborne Trial in the Victorian Visual Imagination. She is currently working on two new book-length projects: Science Against Industry traces the history of the making and presentation of visual exhibits in Victorian courtroom debates over air and river pollution. Caught on Camera is a book-length study about the history of facial recognition detection systems and their evasion, and is being funded by a 2016 Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
History and Theory of Photography Research Centre
Formally established in 2012, the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre is based in Birkbeck’s School of Arts, and is led by Professor Lynda Nead and Dr Patrizia Di Bello, supported by a steering committee. The Centre has links with museums in London, and supports teaching and research on photography in the School through the MA in History of Art with Photography and MPhil-PhD supervision.
Talks are free and open to all: first come first seated.