Some of you may know that my academic background is in the history of photography. That’s what I focused on in my graduate art history program. I recently submitted some of my research to a journal for publication, and it was accepted! I’ve posted the essay here (it’s a pretty long read) for those of you who are into scholarly writing and would like some insight into my research interests. The abstract is below, then the links to the essay proper.

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Future Anterior: Journal of Historic Preservation, History, Theory, and Criticism
Vol. 10, No. 2 (Winter 2013)

“Imag(in)ing Paris for Posterity”

Sabrina Hughes

Abstract: This article traces the evolution of a particular mode of representing Parisian streets, what the author terms a “preservation aesthetic.” Imaging the city this way allowed and encouraged an urban imaginary–viewers could invest the empty streets with historical reverie, with alternate presents, or with possible futures.

Empty streets in urban photography originated due to the limitations of a new technology’s ability to picture the urban experience of daily life and is evident in one of Louis J. M. Daguerre’s earliest images. Over time, new photographic techniques and materials allowed for alternate representations of the streets, but the formal qualities gradually became aestheticized as various official and amateur preservation entities employed photographers to record the physical condition of monuments and streets before demolition, as is evident in the work of Edouard Baldus and Henri Le Secq. By the turn of the twentieth century, and exemplified by the photographs of Eugene Atget, the aesthetic had become concretized and symbolized for its ideal viewers the desire to fix an image of the changing city in anticipation of an unavoidable future destruction.