Pictures of animals are now ubiquitous, but the ability to capture animals on film was a significant challenge in the early era of photography. In Developing Animals, Matthew Brower takes us back to the time when Americans started taking pictures of the animal kingdom, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the moment when photography became a mass medium and wildlife photography an increasingly popular genre. Developing Animals compellingly investigates the way photography changed our perception of animals. Brower analyzes how photographers created new ideas about animals as they moved from taking pictures of taxidermic specimens in so-called natural settings to the emergence of practices such as camera hunting, which made it possible to capture images of creatures in the wild. By combining approaches in visual cultural studies and the history of photography, Developing Animals goes further to argue that photography has been essential not only to the understanding of wildlife but also to the conceptual separation of humans and animals.
About the Author
Matthew Brower is curator of the University of Toronto Art Centre and a lecturer in museum studies in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto.
"In seeking to further our understanding of animal representations, Matthew Brower poses exactly the right question by asking not why we look at animals but how we look at them. Reframing the abundant and varied imagery of "animals in nature" in early American photography, he ably reveals how selective the rhetoric and vision of wildlife photography has now become. Developing Animals will have a real impact on contemporary debates about the representation of animals." —Steve Baker, author of Picturing the Beast
"Matthew Brower’s historical survey is a subtle and complex analysis of how wildlife photography, as a particular kind of contact between human and animal, has been central to our seeing and thinking about animals. This is an indispensable contribution to contemporary work on animals, vision, and the philosophy of animal representation." —Jonathan Burt, author of Animals in Film