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The Wedgwood leaf dish

The Wedgwood leaf dish

The procedure of manufactoring photograms is based on the idea that direct contact between the light sensitive material and the outside is sufficient to create an image of the outer world. During my research on a photogram of a leaf, I found a dish which is attributed to the chemist and photo pioneer Thomas Wegdwood and was part of his family’s inheritance. Although it is not a photogram it shows something similiar to a photogram on the surface.

Certainly nobody would argue that this as a photographic image. But why not? Compared with Strindberg’s gold­paper the case is exactly the contrary: Strindbergs gold­paper could be considered as a photographic image carrier because of the chemicals used, but the pictorial nature seems questionable. The dish however shows a real image on the surface but is not a photographic image carrier. Both objects – the green dish of the Wegdwood company and Strindberg’s goldpaper – cannot be identified as photos but pose the question: What is to be seen here, what is visible?

year: 2011
image size unframed: text 24 x 36 cm / image 36 x 42 cm
material: digital c-prints
presentation: wooden box-section frame with glass

text in combination with the image:

»In 2008 the photogram of a leaf was found in an English photo album with family pictures. Presumably it belonged the chemist and photonpioneer Thomas Wedgwood. Until then his experiments were regarded as lost. If this assumption proves to be correct, there is an image, which is 30 years older than the earliest photography known so far from Nicéphore Nièpce.

Thomas Wedgewood was the son of a china manufacturer in England. In order to draw motifs for the naturalistic decor of the china, the employees of his father’s manufacture used a Camera obscura. In the early history books about photography it is written that Wedgewood’s first attempts aimed to copy silhouettes with light sensitive silver salts on glass or ceramics. If this attempts really happened has never been proven until today. However, in this time a large number of green glazed china products with silhouettes of leaves were produced.«