Erin Pauwels on the analog roots of hypertext
Please join us for our next p19 works-in-progress meeting on Thursday, May 13th at 4:30 pm Eastern as we welcome Erin Pauwels for a discussion of her work in progress
“Re-reading the Book of the Artists as Analog Hypertext”
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We will send the paper along about a week before the meeting.
This paper explores the analog roots of digital media operations such as hypertext or hyperimage, crowd-sourcing, and cultural interface by analyzing how extra-illustrated art history texts, such as Henry Theodore Tuckerman’s Book of the Artists: American Artist Life (1867) cultivated interactive experience. For Tuckerman and his publisher, G.P. Putnam, encouraging individual readers (or users) to source their own illustrations of American artworks was a tacit strategy for promoting visual literacy and art appreciation. Yet surviving examples of extra-illustrated editions of the book reveal that this decision had the unanticipated side effect of bringing modern image-making technologies such as photography into dialogue with fine art long before they attained full-fledged cultural legitimacy. Moreover, it enabled artists and readers alike to participate in writing art’s history by debating, modifying, and disregarding Tuckerman’s authoritative voice in their customized iterations of the original text.
Erin Pauwels is an historian of American art and visual culture with special interest in photography and critical media theory. Her research explores the politics of visuality by mapping intersections between elite and popular forms of expression across evolving technologies for circulating, consuming, and reproducing images. She is currently Assistant Professor of Art History with the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University. Her forthcoming book, Napoleon Sarony and the Art of Living Pictures, reconstructs the complex legacy of a once-famous, nineteenth-century artist to reveal how the emergence of mass media and celebrity culture reshaped the public life of photography as well as modern notions of artistic authorship and visual literacy. Other publications include articles on portraiture and Cuban-US migrant experience; the hybrid media operations of painted photographic backdrops; and the entangled histories of theater, early cinema, and fine art. Her work appears in the journals American Art, Panorama, History & Technology, as well as in recent books such as the National Portrait Gallery’s 50th-Anniversary volume, Beyond the Face: New Perspectives on Portraiture (Smithsonian Institution, 2018), and Acting Out: Cabinet Cards and the Making of Modern Photography (University of California Press, 2020). Pauwels has received grants and fellowships in support of her research from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Henry Luce Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Houghton Library of Harvard University, the Harry Ransom Center, and the Huntington Library. Most recently she was awarded a Jay and Deborah Last Research Fellowship in American Visual Culture from the American Antiquarian Society, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship with the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library.
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