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A History of Light : The Idea of Photography
Bloomsbury Academic

A History of Light : The Idea of Photography

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A History of Light
Author(s): Junko Theresa Mikuriya

When was photography invented, in 1826 with the first permanent photograph? If we depart from the technologically oriented accounts and consider photography as a philosophical discourse an alternative history appears, one which examines the human impulse to reconstruct the photographic or “the evoking of light”. It's significance throughout the history of ideas is explored via the Platonic Dialogues, Iamblichus' theurgic writings, and Marsilio Ficino's texts.

This alternative history is not a replacement of other narratives of photographic history but rather offers a way of rethinking photography's ontological instability.


“Theresa Mikuriya's The History of Light is a startling contribution to the history of photography, to the issue of the relation between philosophy and light, and to accounts of the history of technology. She shows how photography is latent in Platonism and makes powerful persuasive readings to support this. Plato's cave and its arrangement are treated as the description of a camera obscura; the Platonic category of chora is read as photography itself; the mystical union with God can lead to being blinded and is here read as overexposure; Ficino's description of the paradoxical nature of the ascent to light together with the need to bring divine light into the world is treated as a form of photosensitivity. These readings are a rich instrument with which to imagine the history of light. The argument goes a long way to think out Derrida's remark, "Every photograph is of the sun."” —Mark Cousins, of The Architectural Association School of Architecture, UK

“Mikuriya leads us on an intriguing exploration of the 'deep time' of photography. This bold and audacious alternative history stretches from the shadows of Plato's cave to esoteric writings on light and illumination in early Renaissance. It adds a new and compelling dimension to debates around the 'philosophy of photography', refusing to naturalize either the photographic or the philosophical, but instead probing the intimate entanglement of these domains.” —Dr. Scott McQuire, Associate Professor and Reader, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne, Australia

“Theresa Mikuriya sustains her investigation of the historical and philosophical [real] traces of photography all the way back to its earliest possibilities. She teaches us to see before the image and shines light on philosophy, showing where photographs come from, before we even knew they had been, or could be, developed. This metaphysics of the photography is the framing that makes Kodak possible in the centuries before Daguerre arrived. This book should transform our understandings of the visual.” —John Hutnyk, Adjunct Professor, Global Urban and Social Studies Department, Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University, Australia

ISBN:  9781350084575