Accepted paper:

The impact of digital technology on stereo-photography


Andrea Kuratli (Museum Rietberg Zurich/ University of Zurich)

Paper short abstract:

The digital era brought a major change to the use of and the research on stereo-photography. Mechanical skills were replaced by computer skills and traditional archives became digital ones. The handling of delicate materials can be diminished while the possibilities to look at the images increased.

Paper long abstract:

Although stereo-photography is no new technology it has become popular once more through technological innovations, because it facilitates the handling. Whereas analogue stereo-photography required mechanical skills to mount the half-images the right way, these are no longer needed in digital photography but were replaced by computer skills. Concerning social media, the network is limited to people who either have a device to view the images or have learned to free-view stereoscopic images.

The digital era brought a major change not only to the use of modern stereo-photography but also to the research on and with old stereo-photographs. The shift from traditional photo-archives to digital ones opens up new possibilities. Fact is that without digitalisation a lot of photographs aren't accessible for researchers. Photographs often are very fragile and light sensitive and therefore not open to the public, whereas the digital copy of a photograph can be consulted without endangering the original. Especially online databases tremendously extend the accessibility of collections.

Even degraded images can be looked at and due to digital image processing details can be made visible you wouldn't be able to see by just looking at the original. To work on a screen simplifies and speeds up the work and in the case of stereo-photographs the effect of reality (3D) is augmented.

Furthermore, new methodological approaches are made possible. Quantitative research methods can now easily be combined with qualitative ones. My argument will be illustrated by my current research (PhD-project) on a large stereoscopic collection at Museum Rietberg Zurich.

panel P25
Photography, new technologies and the predicament of the frame: theoretical and methodological reflections