This is the table of contents for the blog produced for an AHRC funded research project on the work of the Ilford Limited photographic company and aspects of photographic culture during WWI and in the interwar period in Britain.

The blog is kept as part of my own research practice as well as to communicate ideas in progress to anyone who is interested. I am aware that the possible groups with a stake in this research are really diverse, so rather than try and pitch it to a particular readership, I have just tried to write in a way that does not presume too much prior knowledge of my field, though the tone is definitely academic rather than journalistic.

Clicking on the title of a blog entry will open that entry (and the rest from that month) in a new tab. The low-resolution images in the sidebar (or below if you are looking at this on a phone) are from the Ilford Limited archive at Redbridge and to the best of my knowledge out of copyright. I hope to add details / captions later but for now they are just decorative.

1 | 14 August 2018 | Aesthetics, Industry and Innovation in Twentieth Century Photography: The Ilford Archive | New AHRC funded research project starting September 2018

Project announcement and details

2 | 15 August 2018 | Research talks and workshops | New AHRC funded research project starting September 2018

Offering talks, workshops etc.; links to social media accounts.

3 | 20 August 2018 | Beginnings and Returnings | Aesthetics, Industry and Innovation in Twentieth Century Photography: The Ilford Archive

Readings and beginnings; refining terminology; concept of innovation; “laboratory studies”; business structures and models.

4 | 25 August 2018 | Excursus into Economics | Understanding Innovation in Schumpeter's Economic Theory

Joseph A. Schumpeter; innovation as a social activity; role of the entrepreneur; “creative destruction”; evolutionary model of capitalism; Marxism; Thatcherism and Reaganism; political emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation.

5 | 26 August 2018 | Innovation as Fetish Object | David Harvey and Key Points on Innovation

Critique of Schumpeterian economics; innovation as means for monopoly; role of the state in innovation; technological innovation as an industry in itself; reluctant consumers; “creative destruction”.

6 | 28 August 2018 | Innovation-Determination | Modernism, Feminism, Technology-in-use

Modernity and modernism'; spectacle and astonishment; wonder and habit; avant-garde; everydayness of technological commodities; gendering of technology; technological determinism; adaptations, maintenance, repair and re-use.

7 | 30 August 2018 | The Sensory Economy | Imperceptible changes in everyday aesthesis

The “distribution of the sensible”; the senses in social and cultural history; relation between senses and regulatory frameworks; newness; aesthísis and expanded conception of sensory and aesthetic experience; change, cultural loss and nostalgia; innovation and ailments.

8 | 4 September 2018 | Photochemistry as second nature | Walter Benjamin and Sensory Experience in Modernity

The rise of organic chemistry; aniline dyes; reconfiguration of the human senses in industrial modernity; mass-production and industrialisation of photography; first world war expansion; German and British production of sensitising dyes; reciprocal effects in technological development; new technologies and newly attuned bodies.

9 | 7 September 2018 | Into the Archive | A Dizzying Variety of Film

First visit to the Redbridge Museum and Heritage Centre in Ilford; 1930s packaging and labels; Ilford aerial film; Dufay-Chromex; military and defence supplies; the Hythe gun camera; specialist films for clydonographs, oscillographs, optical sound recording and phototelegraphy; importance of the negative; “designer emulsions” and diverse film formats.

10 | 11 September 2018 | Cutting Through the Haze | Cultural Techniques and Ilford’s Aerial Film

“Grey media”; “cultural techniques”; the 1933 Houston Mount Everest Expedition; aerial films and plates; emulsion production methods; procedures and instructions; modernization through technology; fascism and imperialism; Nepal and British nationalism; military mapping; innovation and use; rendering the world visible and exploitable.

11 | 21 September 2018 | Avant-Garde and Kitsch | Photographic Advertising, Modernism and Sentimental Realism

“Photographic Advertising” company; stock photography; advertising agencies; sentimental realism; advertising illustration; Selo film advertising in the 1930s; beach photography; modernist tropes; images of divers; the female body in flight; concepts of freedom; bodies and technology; hedonism; outdoor photography; rise of the holiday.

12 | 27 September 2018 | Surviving the Slump | Ilford Limited and British Industry in the 1920s - 1930s

The Great Slump of 1929–33; British empire; export markets; family firms; consolidation and amalgamation; state intervention; Kodak and Agfa; rationalization and recession; Woolworths and Boots the chemist; Selo roll film; consumer film markets; militarization; Nazification of IG Farben; British armaments industry; the ‘warfare state’ and the military-industrial complex.

13 | 5 October 2018 | Now and Then | Links between my work on contemporary photography and the Ilford Limited project

Connections between writing on social media photography and my Ilford research; history written from the perspective of the present; need for digital photography theory to have more nuanced understanding of analogue, chemical photography; the chemical and industrial infrastructure of experience; new technologies reconfiguring the everyday.

14 | 7 October 2018 | Fogging | Light, air, purity and pollution

Contamination of photographic emulsion; London fogs; atmospheric pollution; humidity in manufacture; coal; industrialisation of photography; poor light in Britain; class prejudice; eugenics; moral purity; expansion of suburbs; gas industry and the smoke abatement campaigns; gasworks; air conditioning; association of photography with sun and seaside.

15 | 16 October 2018 | Thinking Through the Grid | On Dufaycolor and the Réseau

Dufaycolor; Spicer-Dufay; historical film colours; panchromatic emulsion; grain; digital cameras; Bayer filter; the analogue-digital distinction; the Lumière brothers’ Autochrome; nineteenth-century physiological optics; colour perception; computing; rationality of the grid.

16 | 26 October 2018 | The Rule of Thirds | Grids and Freedom in Photography and Sketching Manuals

Nineteenth-century advice literature for amateur photographers; rules of composition; nineteenth-century drawing and watercolour manuals; amateur artists; William Henry Fox Talbot; the cult of sketching; the picturesque; property and the landed gentry; freedom and ideas of “slavishness”; custom, habit, and sentiment; grids; the Ilford Manual of Photography.

17 | 19 November 2018 | Fiends and Lovers | Lucia Moholy, Pelican Specials and Amateur Photographers

Amateurism; Lucia Moholy’s A Hundred Years of Photography; the Pelican Specials series (Penguin books); Kodak fiends and photography lovers; the photography amateur as a reader of photography histories and Ilford manuals.

18 | 29 November 2018 | Mechanisation and Maintenance | First Thoughts on Photography Factories, Automation and Sensitivity

The Harman Technology Ltd. factory in Mobberley; mechanisation at Ilford Limited 1880s-1930s; emulsion coating machines; factory labour; repair and maintenance; living and working alongside machines; sensitivity and contamination; air conditioning; photographic emulsions as like living creatures; human and non-human collaboration.

19 | 10 December 2018 | From Surface to Skin | Collodion, Celluloid and Artificial Nature

Facture; medium as not inert; gun cotton / nitrocellulose / pyroxylin; wet-plate collodion process; “artificial skin”; cosmetics and surgery; gender and artifice; Parkesine / Xylonite / celluloid; big game hunting; George Eastman; elephants and the ivory trade; analogy between photography and taxidermy; flammability of film; surface culture of modernity.

20 | 4 February 2019 | Vulcanite Goggles | On Archives, Writing and Being Distracted

Writing / archives / fog / distraction / sunglasses / Boots the Chemist / Kodak Limited / cigarette vouchers.

21 | 1 March 2019 | Worldsy | On Photographic Worlding

Representations versus material practices; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; Martin Heidegger; relation between world and earth; colonialism; imperialism; concept of world and worlding; the photography archive; sensory experiences and ways of being; work of worlding.


22 | 9 May 2019 | Update on Progress — Light | Sensitive | Material and The Stuff of Photography

An explanation of the long pause in my blog entries, and description of upcoming events I am co-organising with my colleagues.


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Historical Film Colors

National Meteorological Archive, Monthly Weather Reports