The documentary impulse predates the film camera. It can be traced back to the
enlightenment, the spirit of scientific enquiry that transformed the intellectual climate of
Western civilization in the 17th and 18th centuries, and incidentally produced the first
encyclopedias. A prime Enlightenment project was to discover more about the globe
itself. In the 18th century Britain and France, the premier maritime powers of Europe,
commissioned voyages of discovery with the dual purpose of establishing national claims
to distant lands and reporting on topography and strange peoples. Both the mercantile and
the scientific objectives required detailed reports with accurate visual records.

 Professional artists were recruited to accompany expeditions.
The first and most famous example of a project of this kind were the three seaborne explorations (1768-1780) undertaken by the British navy under the command of
James Cook which led to the discovery of New Zealand and Australia, and the mapping
of a third of the globe. Cook, himself a brilliant navigator and cartographer, carried with
him on all his voyages a retinue of naturalists, astronomers, and artists. Between them the
professional artists Francis Parkinson, Alexander Buchan, William Hodges and John
Webber produced many hundreds of images of people and places until then unknown
outside their own world.
Half a century later, a similar documentary motive inspired a famous private
expedition in the United States. 

In 1833 a Prussian aristocrat, Prince Maximilian of Wied
(near Coblenz on the Rhine), set out to explore the American West, at that time known
only to a handful of mountain men and fur trappers. Maximilian brought with him, at his
own expense, a young Swiss artist, Karl Bodmer. Together they travelled up the Missouri
River to the heart of the Indian territory in the foothills of the Rockies. Bodmer's
drawings and watercolors (some 500 in all) formed a comprehensive visual record of a
way of life that was soon to disappear. Bodmer paid careful attention to the marks Indian
chiefs painted on their faces and torsoes, to details in their headdresses and ornamentation
on their clothes and bodies, realizing that these signs were the Indians' own form of
documentary record.
Bodmer’s work appeared on the eve of the invention of the camera. After Louis
Jacques Mandé Daguerre’s demonstration of the new device in 1839, photography
quickly spread throughout the world. A mechanical means of making a visual record
challenged the older technology of the artist’s eye and hand. By mid-century it had
supplanted it.
The relationship between artistic form and factual detail that marked documentary
artists like Bodmer was dramatically illustrated on the Hayden Federal Survey expedition
of 1871 to the Yellowstone region of the Rockies.

 Accompanying the scientists on the
expedition were two artists, the photographer Henry Jackson and the painter Thomas
Moran, and each was conscious he would be judged by the other’s work. Together, their
images convinced Congress to declare the Yellowstone a national wilderness park, the
first national park in the world (Goetzmann, 1986).
By the end of the nineteenth century photography had become the dominant form
of visual record. Its truth telling status had worked a revolution in human perception. In
this connection, two precursors of the filmed documentary should be mentioned, Jacob
Riis (1849-1914) and Lewis Hine (1874-1940). Both men used photography for the
purpose of social reform, Riis in the course of reporting on police work in the New York
slums for the New York Tribune and Hine as an activist with the Progressive Reform
Movement’s survey of Pittsburgh in 1907 and then as a reporter on child labor. Hine’s
photographs of immigrants, industrial workers, and children have been used countless
times by later makers of documentary films to illustrate the human face of America’s
industrial revolution.

Media center total solutions of content and raw wiki information source - The hulk library of knowledge world wide - sound library - Books library

bitcoin , reads , books , cord blood , attorneys , lawyers , domestic , local services , offshore companies , offshore lawyers , beyond the seas business , laws , enactions , jungle , ameriican eagle , america business , gas, gasoline , petrol , burn , films , new movies , stars , hollywood , stationary , offices , federal law , states divisions

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post

Contact Form