The advent of photography revolutionized perception, making visible what was once impossible to see with the human eye. In At the Edge of Sight, Shawn Michelle Smith engages these dynamics of seeing and not seeing, focusing attention as much on absence as presence, on the invisible as the visible. Exploring the limits of photography and vision, she asks: What fails to register photographically, and what remains beyond the frame? What is hidden by design, and what is obscured by cultural blindness? Smith studies manifestations of photography's brush with the unseen in her own photographic work and across the wide-ranging images of early American photographers, including F. Holland Day, Eadweard Muybridge, Andrew J. Russell, Chansonetta Stanley Emmons, and Augustus Washington. She concludes by showing how concerns raised in the nineteenth century remain pertinent today in the photographs of Abu Ghraib. Ultimately, Smith explores the capacity of photography to reveal what remains beyond the edge of sight.
Shawn Michelle Smith is Associate Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of Photography on the Color Line: W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture (also published by Duke University Press) and American Archives: Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture; coauthor of Lynching Photographs; and coeditor of Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity (also published by Duke University Press).
List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xv Introduction. First Photographs 1 - Excess and Accident 21 1. Race and Reproduction in Camera Lucida 23 2. The Politics of Pictorialism: Another Look at F. Holland Day 39 - My Muybridge 73 3. The Space Between: Eadweard Muybridge's Motion Studies 75 4. Preparing the Way for the Train: Andrew J. Russell 99 - When the Train Rolls In 129 5. Chansonetta Stanley Emmons's Nostalgic Views 131 6. Augustus Washington and the Civil Contract of Photography 165 - In the Crowd 193 7. Afterimages: Abu Ghraib 195 - Untitled (Abu Graib) 213 Epilogue. A Parting Glance 215 Notes 217 Bibliography 265 Index 283