My research centres on the materials of photography and the political economy behind their production and circulation. In my thesis, which focuses on the role of silver as photography’s light sensitive material basis in Britain between 1780 and 1851, I am seeking to understand the ways in which the emergence of the medium was conditioned by local and global networks of supply and practices of labour. The commerce by which silver moved from mining regions to the hands of photographic experimenters was shaped by processes of industrialisation, long-distance trade, and financial imperialism. This line of inquiry prompts us to reconsider early photographs with the politics of their material formation in mind.
This project has been supported by the Yale Center for British Art, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and the Clarendon Fund.