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The Miracle of Analogy

The Miracle of Analogy

is the first volume in a two-volume reconceptualization of photography. It argues that photography originates in what is seen, rather than in the human eye or the camera lens, and that it is the world’s primary way of revealing itself to us. The photographic image is able to perform this function because it is an analogy, rather than an index, a representation or a copy, and because this analogy is an ontological extension of its so-called “referent.” Analogy governs every other aspect of photography, as well; a positive print analogizes the negative from which it is generated, every other print that is struck from that negative, and all of its digital “offspring.” Photography is also unstoppably developmental. It began with the pinhole camera, which was more found than invented, morphed into the optical camera obscura, was reborn as chemical photography, and lives on in a digital form. It moves through time, in search of other “kin,” some of which are visual, but others of which may be literary, architectural, philosophical or literary. Finally, photography develops with us and in response to us; it assumes historically-legible forms, and when we divest them of their saving power, as we always seem to do, it goes elsewhere.

The Miracle of Analogy starts with the camera obscura, and ends with Walter Benjamin’s “Little History of Photography,” but it is primarily focused on the nineteenth century and a few of its contemporary progeny. It will be published by Stanford University Press in February 2015.

About Kaja Silverman

Kaja Silverman, the Katherine Stein Sachs CW'69 and Keith L. Sachs W'67 Professor of Art History at University of Pennsylvania, is the recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon, Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of her exemplary contributions to humanistic scholarship. The Mellon awards are granted to support the decisive contributions the humanities make to the nation's intellectual life by honoring scholars who have made significant contributions to humanistic inquiry. The award will support her scholarly pursuits as an art historian and visual theorist as well as related arts programming that will increase opportunities for scholarship and teaching at Penn over the next six years.