Heather Law PhD Student in Anthropology/Archaeology at the University of California, Berkeley
I am interested in using both the documentary, photographic, and archaeological record to investigate the process of history production. For this session I'll be presenting an assemblage of late 19th and early 20th century tintypes in order to initiate a discussion of the role of portraits as both objects employed in the construction of self, and as artifacts that might contribute to conversations of materiality and personhood in Archaeological contexts. The tintype, as the first affordable form of portraiture available to middle class Americans, has the potential to illustrate diverse processes of self imagination made possible by the novelty of photographs as objects of self representation.
Professor Ruth Tringham
University of California, Berkeley
Ruth Tringham received her Ph.D. in Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, with sojourns at Charles University, Prague and the (then) University of Leningrad, USSR. She came to the US to teach at Harvard University. She is currently Professor of Anthropology and holds the Alice S. Davis Endowed Chair at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a founder and director of the UC Berkeley Multimedia Authoring Center for Teaching in Anthropology (MACTiA). Her research has focused on the transformation of early agricultural (Neolithic) societies and has directed and published archaeological excavations in Southeast Europe and Turkey (Çatalhöyük). From 1997 to 2005 she directed the BACH project at Çatalhöyük. With Mirjana Stevanovic, she is the co-editor of the final printed monograph House Lives in which she contributed three co-authored and two single chapters. After the BACH project she continued fieldwork at Çatalhöyük until 2007 on the Remediated Places project involving the creation of interpretive video-walks. She also was a project leader on the prize-winning Remixing Çatalhöyük project and currently directs Okapi Island which is a mirror of Çatalhöyük in the virtual world of Second Life. She has created several films that combine found footage and her own videography and is also the creator and manager of the Archaeological Film Database (IMDB for archaeology that focuses on media literacy analysis). Her current research focuses on creating database narratives about the life-histories of buildings and the multisensorial construction of place. Much of her recent practice of archaeology incorporates the utilization of digital, especially multimedia, technology and social networking in the presentation of the process of archaeological interpretation. With Michael Ashley and Cinzia Perlingieri she is currently creating the on-line digital mirror of the BACH project: Last House on the Hill, that will be a model for screen-based publication of archaeological research.Professor Michael Shanks
Lana Martin PhD Student in Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles
On the Photographic Ethnography of Archaeology
My interest in archaeological photography ranges from producing an unambiguous representation of artifacts and features to conveying scenes from archaeological work. With the latter, I attempt to idealize (what I consider to be) the most engaging attributes of archaeology as a discipline and practice, the varied relationships between human and non-human participants. To better understand my own position as an archaeologist, I aim to construct a narrative that communicates to the viewer the more subtle themes and motifs present in archaeology, and attempt to evoke an appreciation not for the objects but for the viewpoints of people who value them.
David Reed Cohen Visiting Scholar from the University of California, Berkeley
Beautiful Decay and Fallow Spaces of Human Life
Before I became an archaeologist I was involved in visual arts, and I approach archaeology in its broadest sense in my work. My subjects are associated with the abandonment and decay of physical spaces and material culture, on one hand to document a moment in time of a life-history, and on the other to accentuate the visual beauty of decay during the processes of site formation. Within abandoned spaces I am drawn to objects that were left in place, never to be used again by people, and try to represent the story of their lost connection to the world they sit dormant within. What happens to human creation when it is left to fallow is a beautiful thing.
Frederick N. Bohrer Associate Professor of Art, Hood College
Archaeology and the In(ter)vention of Photography
Archaeological photography uneasily embraces two opposite tendencies. It was invited into archaeological use largely for documentary purposes: for its promise in conveying appearances, quickly, simply and with reliable mechanical accuracy. Photography in this role underwrites the circulation of archaeological material for a larger audience, both general and learned. On the other hand, photography has come into its role not by solely recording but also remaking the archaeological object. The practice of photographic archaeology involves fundamental transformations of antiquities and other artifacts, accomplished both in front of and behind the lens. One can trace a growing realization by both archaeologists and photographers of the varied possibilities and limitations of photography. This history of expectation must be juxtaposed with the technical development of photography itself, of changes in cameras, film and technique, and with changing assumptions about the past and the possibilities for capturing it.
Center for Digital Archaeology at the University of California, Berkeley
My photographs of archaeologists and archaeological projects became a conscious 'project' in 2008 during the Prescot Street Dig when I started taking a series of pictures that became 'The Dig'.
I had been playing around with using older cameras to take pictures of digs and diggers since 2003. At that time, my initial vaguely formed ideas about what I was doing had something to do with the idea of capturing the feeling of being on deep urban stratigraphy sites in London. These sites are highly symbolic within the world of 'the digger' where they have acted as the forming grounds of many great archaeologists and the methods of archaeological fieldwork itself. The unpretentious and craftsman-like way archaeology is done and the almost self destructively hard lifestyle of the diggers themselves fascinated me and resonated with my earliest memories of going 'on site' as a teenager.
On the Prescot Street Dig I picked up one of the old Spotmatics used on site for recording and started to make pictures of what seemed most important to us on and off site. The grainy portraits were to a certain extent a conscious response to images of 'the worker' seen in photojournalism. I was looking to provide a supplemental record to the 'traditional' archaeological recording photographs that we make. This was in clear contrast to the forced formalism and 'objectivity' of archaeological site photography with its scale-bars, tripods, step-ladders and conscious removal of the paraphernalia of the act of digging.
Since 'The Dig' I have returned to medium format film and selective use of colour. The newer work is less concerned with portraits and moves away from the photojournalistic style of 'The Dig'. These images are more concerned with the detail and patina of the excavation itself, and are perhaps more of a sideways glance at the work we do. This chance capture of details reflects the way that archaeology itself looks at past societies through fragmentary remains.
Jon Bateman Curatorial Officer, Archaeology Data Service at the University of York
“Do we still do that?”: Photography, cameras and people in a teaching environment
Cameras, people, photography, archaeology. Not so long ago the relationships between these things were set firm within an average archaeology teaching department. It would have been difficult to graduate without a basic knowledge of f-stops, shutter speeds and scales, but the formal teaching of photography as one of the pillars of archaeological technique has faded over the last decade. Dramatic shifts in technology have changed the landscape of photography throughout society. How have these changes crept through the relationships people have with photography within an academic department?
The spectrum of photographic technology has been spread wide in recent years. Photography in the digital era ranges from camera phones through to high dynamic range imaging. The digital era has both extended and created more overlap in the duality of accessible, democratized photography and the technocracy of the photographic professional. These photographies continue to offer ways for identities to be forged and defined in archaeology, but without the formal structures of taught photographic practice. If some of these boundaries are now broken, how are the relationships people have with cameras changing, and how is the texture of archaeology coloured by it?
Ruth Tringham Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley
Mashing Up Past and Present to Construct a Sense of Place
I have become interested in the seduction of merging (mashing) images of present places, - rather than merely juxtaposing them - with images – either real photographs or their illusions – of the past. Some similar and very powerful composites have been created , for example, by Sergei Lenkov (http://sergey-larenkov.livejournal.com/), the Museum of London Streetmuseum iPhone app, and the Flickr group “Looking into the Past” (http://www.flickr.com/groups/lookingintothepast/). I believe that such mashups can have a powerful inspiration for the construction of place, especially when they involve people and events as well as landscape and architecture. I am creating mashup photographs – not of the traditional citiscapes and events – but of archaeological events and places.
This article will give you a good idea of my standpoint in photography and archaeology:
Tringham, R. 2010 Forgetting and Remembering the Digital Experience and Digital Data. In Archaeology and
Memory, edited by D. Boric, pp. 68-104. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK.
Annelise Morris Graduate Student, University of California, Berkeley
History Making and Memory Keeping: Photographs as Artifacts of Black Family History
Founded in the late 18th century by free black pioneers and occupied continuously ever since, my family’s ancestral homestead is also the archaeological site I will begin excavating for my dissertation. With generations of family portraits and photographs available, I am interested in exploring how these photographs are used in the creation of site histories, as well as their role in the memorialization of the black experience through time. For this session, I will present a sample of these photographic artifacts discussing their unique visual access to lived experiences of an archaeological site, as well as their ability to represent changing articulations of the self and the family through time.
Colleen Morgan PhD Candidate, University of California, Berkeley
Nostalgic, Personal, Neglected, Treasured, Rejected: The Other Photography in Archaeology
Our view of the past is hazy, inaccurate, hard to discern, never quite all there. Yet our record of such uncertainty is becoming dazzlingly clear; professional-quality digital SLR cameras producing high-dynamic range imaging are becoming the norm on archaeological projects and our photographic archives, once highly-curated collections of
“scientific,” carefully set-up shots have exploded in size and diversified in content accordingly. Along with this extraordinary, high-tech verisimilitude runs a counter-narrative--photography on sites performed by students, workmen, professionals, and tourists using their cellphones. These images are too casual, personal, low-rez, and are often unavailable to the official project. They find another life online, emailed to friends and posted on Flickr and Facebook, living beyond the archive and often becoming a much more visible public face than the more official photographs released by the
Inspired by this tension between the personal and the formal and Damon Winter’s recent New York Times iPhone photo essay of soldiers in Afghanistan, I shed my cumbersome and conspicuous DSLR to explore the affective, casual, and nostalgic qualities of archaeological photography with my cellphone and on-board photo-editing applications. In a session focused on exploring the work that archaeological photography does, I will investigate the hazy, inaccurate, personal, and extra-archival qualities of the archaeological snapshot.
Alex Jansen Graduate Student in Art History/Museum Studies at Towson University
Photographs as a Means of Representing Cultural and Historical Production
My work focuses on the way that culture and meaning is constructed through the land and how photographs serve as a means of representing culture. I am specifically interested in the ways in which photographs capture and embody the intersection of culture and history within the land. My photographs individually analyze the relationship between culture and history while at the same time forming a larger body of work in which the photographs are both thematically and contextually linked through this association. The photographs therefore also function together as a narrative or visual story that investigates the production of archeological knowledge within the land. My work visually depicts the relationship between history and culture and analyzes the ways in which photographs can serve as a means of representing archeological works and spaces.
Þóra Pétursdóttir PhD student, Department of Archaeology and Social Anthropology, University of Tromsoe, Norway
Topographic – photographic: Dialogues with the recent past
Photography’s contribution to archaeology is unquestioned. However, notwithstanding its importance in terms of both documentation and representation, it primarily holds a secondary value in archaeological discourses. The role of images is to be subservient to the text, to “illustrate” and support, and more active, experimental and “artistic” uses are often dismissed as subjective and unscientific. Using examples from my research on modern Icelandic ruins, I will challenge this hierarchy and show how photography enables alternative and genuine statements about the past and provides a means to make manifest the heterogeneous and ineffable that often is left out of scientific prose.
Ursula Fredrick Australian National University
Photography at the Intersection: Art photography as a tool for archaeological thinking
Beyond its application as a technology of recording, photography has long shared a conceptual thread with archaeology. This paper traces the linkages between photography and archaeology, beginning with the trace and index of object to the contemporary portraiture of place. I discuss how, photography as a mode of practice-based research is a tool for archaeological thinking. A specific body of work concerned with car culture will be the focus of this discussion.
Dan Thompson Independent Researcher
Pop Culture: Ancient sites in a modern world
Archaeological sites are too often considered as artifacts, removed from any modern context, when they are firmly rooted in the contemporary world. Whether local to a community, visited by tourists, the focus of archaeological research or all three, sites are subjected to differing perceptions, but rarely do visitors give much thought to the sites’ relationship to the modern cultural fabric. “Pop Culture” seeks to explore this dimension by challenging viewers to consider their own perceptions of sites through site-based “soda symbology” – advertisements and discarded containers – that create photographic metaphors for the relationship of sites to the modern world.