Spring 2007 Senior Thesis Exhibition

David Scott & Ben Beckendorf


The photographic world, since its beginning, has developed with exponential possibility; as one technique gains popularity, another emerges to replace it. At the start of the photographic era, those able to execute the process were scarce, but growing in number, and it was considered a rare talent to successfully produce an image.

The daguerreotype is one of the very first practical methods for creating photographs. A highly polished copper plate is coated with silver, then sensitized with iodine crystal fumes, creating light–sensitive silver iodide


David Scott & Ben Beckendorf

The plate is then exposed through a camera lens, developed with UV light through an amber filter, and gilded with a blowtorch and finally fixed with sodium thiosulfate, (this description is an abridged version of the process.) In short, there is no negative, there is no reproduction, the silvered plate IS the image, and each one is unique.

It is this inimitability, and the captivating jewelry–like quality of each piece, which draws us to this process. In the latter 20th century, the importance and value of the image has declined drastically with the advent of one–hour photo labs, (and especially digital photography) allowing anyone to claim the title 'photographer.' The physical image has become valueless aside from concept, in stark contrast to the first photographs which were quite static and had little conceptual worth but held great value as an object. We seek to move against this contemporary trend to create a value for the image which is based not solely on concept or method, but combines them, and speaks beyond both toward a stronger meaning.

The subject matter we have chosen is paramount in illuminating the temporal nature of the daguerreotype, as the image itself, which is on the surface of the silver, can be wiped away with a finger. Such is the nature of our world, with progress and development propagating itself into the lives of every American citizen. Every childhood memory of playing in the woods or a neighborhood in which a person had fond memories is in danger of transformation into an utter wasteland, which is in preparation for the facade of model homes and housing developments, strip malls and gas stations. We seek to provide a window through which our viewers might see an alternative perspective of not only photography but of the machinations of humankind.


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