Stereo Visual Culture: Between the Documentary and Entertainment

By Victor Flores.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.9-19. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 508.408KB).

Prof. Victor Flores

Professor, School of Communication, Architecture, Arts and Information Technologies, Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Lisbon, Portugal

Victor Manuel Esteves Flores received his PhD in communication studies from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He is an associate professor at Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, where he has taught Methods in Image Analysis, Digital Aesthetics, and Cultural Programming and Management since 1996. He heads the Master’s Program in Cultural Programming and Management and is coordinator of the field of specialization in management of art and culture in the undergraduate program in Communication and Cultural Studies. He is a researcher at both the Center for Communication and Language Studies and the Research Center in Communication, Art and New Technologies. In 2007, he published his first book titled, Minimalismo e Pós-Minimalismo: Forma, Anti-Forma e Corpo na Obra de Robert Morris (Minimalism and Post-Minimalism: Form, Anti-Form and Body in the Work of Robert Morris), with the publishing house Editora Livros Labcom. His most recent academic activities include the publication of articles in the field of visual culture, the organization of conferences, participation in Master’s and PhD juries as examiner, as well as the preparation of scientific research projects.