Wundercamera Obscura

Doi: https://doi.org/10.47659/m3.070.art

Archives abounding in collections of nineteenth-century photographs contain numerous examples of works dealing with the subject of bodily anomalies. Information about such pictures being taken used to be published on a regular basis in daily press, in which the readership were notified about photo ateliers which immortalised a variety of “monstrosities”. Although it would seem that such pictures were taken solely for scientific purposes, the many and varied contexts of their use let us link them to a much older tradition of viewing and collecting visual curiosities. Having the above facts in mind, this article confronts the popular habits of photographing peculiarities in the 19th century, with museum practice and the Wunderkammers tradition. The space of a photograph may substitute exhibition space, while a desire to watch all kinds of abnormalities and the culture of curiosity determines the connection between former museum visitors and recipients of photographs.

Archives abounding in collections of nineteenth-century photographs contain numerous examples of works dealing with the subject of bodily anomalies. Information about such pictures being taken used to be published on a regular basis in daily press, in which the readership were notified about photo ateliers which immortalised a variety of “monstrosities”. Although it would seem that such pictures were taken solely for scientific purposes, the many and varied contexts of their use let us link them to a much older tradition of viewing and collecting visual curiosities. Having the above facts in mind, this article confronts the popular habits of photographing peculiarities in the 19th century, with museum practice and the Wunderkammers tradition. The space of a photograph may substitute exhibition space, while a desire to watch all kinds of abnormalities and the culture of curiosity determines the connection between former museum visitors and recipients of photographs.

Archives abounding in collections of nineteenth-century photographs contain numerous examples of works dealing with the subject of bodily anomalies. Information about such pictures being taken used to be published on a regular basis in daily press, in which the readership were notified about photo ateliers which immortalised a variety of “monstrosities”. Although it would seem that such pictures were taken solely for scientific purposes, the many and varied contexts of their use let us link them to a much older tradition of viewing and collecting visual curiosities. Having the above facts in mind, this article confronts the popular habits of photographing peculiarities in the 19th century, with museum practice and the Wunderkammers tradition. The space of a photograph may substitute exhibition space, while a desire to watch all kinds of abnormalities and the culture of curiosity determines the connection between former museum visitors and recipients of photographs.

You must be a subscriber to view the main content of this page. Please subscribe to an option that fits your needs and get access to core content! If you are already a subscriber just sign in below. If you have purchased a subscription via Offline payment, the content will be unlocked upon receiving your payment.

Every conceivable object of Nature and Art will soon scale off its surface for us. Men will hunt all curious, beautiful, grand objects, as they hunt the cattle in South America, for their skins, and leave the carcasses as of little worth. – Oliver Wendel Holmes
Reading Time: 11 minutes
Reading Time: 11 minutes
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Similar subject

Once we understand camouflage as a fully vital phenomenon that cannot be reduced to a strategic-tactical game among antagonists, we can appreciate how the camouflaging animal (or human) enacts a liminal space.
While a backdrop actively participates in narration by force of visual rhetoric, the background is simply the best technical choice that serves to amplify the forefront.
The collision of image politics opens up an intriguing series of misrecognitions passed between the original photographer, Egyptian censorship formulas and the public audience.
Each innovation in visual media changes the way the world behind our back was seen.
Love Studio depicts the portraits of a working-class community where an old studio in Dhaka transforms into a neighborhood venue to represent the dreams, hopes and desires of the factory workers, their families and unemployed neighbors.
Originally, I was driven by the idea to take pictures of individuals who don't even have any understanding of being depicted.
Time had stopped – everywhere and nowhere.
To observe a river as it meanders is a bit like watching the grass grow. You can know it is happening. But you cannot see it.

Our site uses cookies to improve our services. As an user you need to agree to the usage and accept our conditions. We are currently using only necessary cookies for normal web page functioning. For more information visit our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. For more information on the cookies that we use please check the list below.  

Cookies that we use

PHPSESSID
This cookie is native to PHP applications. The cookie is used to store and identify a users’ unique session ID for the purpose of managing user session on the website. The cookie is a session cookies and is deleted when all the browser windows are closed.

I consent to the cookie usage, agree with the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and want to continue using the web-page. 

sign up

and get the latest news and calls for papers & projects