This paper aims to contribute to the reflection on a medium that has been abandoned by the popular, or artistic, usage of photography, as well as underestimated by the history and theory of photography. Stereoscopy has many of the characteristics of a neglected medium. Its popularity from the 1850’s to the 1950’s couldn’t let us predict its suppression in the main practices of photography, let alone its minor position in the photographic studies. The popularity of stereoscopy indicates that it corresponded to social needs deeply rooted in the late nineteenth century, associated both to documentary and to entertainment. If, on one hand, stereoscopy offered detail and precision, then on the other, it expanded the visuality, offering immersion and “visual pleasures”. The appropriation of photography by public powers in the late 19th century demanded that photography was not confused with “illusions” or “visual tricks”, but with truth and objectivity. This paper intends to clarify the reasons why this relationship between photography and stereoscopy is doomed from its beginning: the different purposes of their inventions; their distinct cultural heritages; the social disapproval of the act of peeking (symbolized by binoculars); the cultural critique of the immersion and tangibility as unnecessary and promiscuous advantages.
|Keywords:||Visual Culture, Photography, Stereoscopy|
Professor, School of Communication, Architecture, Arts and Information Technologies, Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Lisbon, Portugal