Mineral Analogs: Carleton Watkins's Photographs and the Gold Standard

A&A Reunions Lecture
Friday, May 24, 2024, 11:00 am12:00 pm



Event Description

A close reading of Carleton Watkins’s Nugget of Gold—attending to its subject matter, production, world fair display, reproduction and circulation, and especially its minerality—reveals a profound identification in late-nineteenth-century US-American society between photography and mining. Representing a fusion of nature and culture, photography has been likened to currency almost from its inception. Yet the material and specifically mineral limitations of this economy have been overlooked, though they establish a direct parallel with another gold-dependent commodity: money. Both were historically curtailed by their analog quality; their proliferation, and hence their value, is limited by extractive labor and material substance.  

Department of Art & Archaeology