Broomberg and Chanarin say their work, on show at Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery, examines “the radical notion that prejudice might be inherent in the medium of photography itself”. They argue that early colour film was predicated on white skin: in 1977, when Jean-Luc Godard was invited on an assignment to Mozambique, he refused to use Kodak film on the grounds that the stock was inherently “racist”.
The light range was so narrow, Broomberg said, that “if you exposed film for a white kid, the black kid sitting next to him would be rendered invisible except for the whites of his eyes and teeth”. It was only when Kodak’s two biggest clients – the confectionary and furniture industries – complained that dark chocolate and dark furniture were losing out that it came up with a solution.
Makes perfect sense to me. The human eye always adjusts to see people’s faces but the technology of photography developed around adjusting to white people only. You can probably dig deeper and look at the cultural institution that developed around photography for what came to be accepted as “what the camera likes” and the aesthetics of palettes and light conditions and such for more normalization of racist standards. Same can probably be said of a great deal of Eurocentric art, aesthetics, and technology in general.
So glad someone identified this tendency. When I did photography, I found my POC friends impossible to light with the reccomendations given by most photography blogs and such. I also found no techniques on how to photograph people with darker skin tones because even DSLRS require different types of exposures for darker skin.
Are these people serious
Yep cause it’s true
Film is an inherently racist medium, which seems unfortunately to bemost discussed by white authors (Richard Dyer, though, does have a lot of good information in White)
But when Spike Lee has to come up with his own methods of cinematography to film black people, something is definitely wrong
Or when I show up as a dark blob in photos with my white friends, or when I’m the only one who’s face isn’t picked up by any recognition technology, then I’d say film and photography are definitely racist media
idk how much we should be taking cues on racism from JLG tbh
Also the filters that get used for photo editing (digital and otherwise). Like, I think loads of pictures are specially developed with this blue tone that really lightens people up (while also making everything look washed out). And all the common tutorials (both on tumblr and elsewhere) to improve the lighting/image quality of screencaps for edits and gifs are totally useless for darker skin tones. I wish there were better fandom resources for this shit because it’s fucking frustrating.
reblogging to add:
“Montré Aza Missouri, an assistant professor in film at Howard University, recalls being told by one of her instructors in London that “if you found yourself in the ‘unfortunate situation’ of shooting on the ‘Dark Continent,’ and if you’re shooting dark-skinned people, then you should rub Vaseline on their skin in order to reflect light. It was never an issue of questioning the technology.” In her classes at Howard, Missouri says, “I talk to my students about the idea that the tools used to make film, the science of it, are not racially neutral.”
Missouri reminds her students that the sensors used in light meters have been calibrated for white skin; rather than resorting to the offensive Vaseline solution, they need to manage the built-in bias of their instruments, in this case opening their cameras’ apertures one or two stops to allow more light through the lens. Filmmakers working with celluloid also need to take into account that most American film stocks weren’t manufactured with a sensitive enough dynamic range to capture a variety of dark skin tones. Even the female models whose images are used as reference points for color balance and tonal density during film processing — commonly called “China Girls” — were, until the mid-1990s, historically white.
In the face of such technological chauvinism, filmmakers have been forced to come up with workarounds, including those lights thrown on Poitier and a variety of gels, scrims and filters. But today, such workarounds have been rendered virtually obsolete by the advent of digital cinematography, which allows filmmakers much more flexibility both in capturing images and manipulating them during post-production.”
and from the original article:
The artists feel certain that the ID-2 camera and its boost button were Polaroid’s answer to South Africa’s very specific need. “Black skin absorbs 42% more light. The button boosts the flash exactly 42%,” Broomberg explained. “It makes me believe it was designed for this purpose.”
In 1970 Caroline Hunter, a young chemist working for Polaroid in America, stumbled upon evidence that the company was effectively supporting apartheid. She and her partner Ken Williams formed the Polaroid Workers Revolutionary Movement and campaigned for a boycott. By 1977 Polaroid had withdrawn from South Africa, spurring an international divestment movement that was crucial to bringing down apartheid.
The title of the exhibition, To Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light, refers to the coded phrase used by Kodak to describe a new film stock created in the early 1980s to address the inability of earlier films to accurately render dark skin.
The show also features norm reference cards that always used white women as a standard for measuring and calibrating skin tones when printing photographs. The series of “Kodak Shirleys” were named after the first model featured. Today such cards show multiple races.
Forever reblog with added commentary
Yes! It’s back! I was trying to find this post
Added information. I really really need a book on cinematography techniques for lighting darker skin tones
Surreal Photos of Singapore’s Solar-Powered Supertrees | via
As CNN reported on the supertrees, “It’s pretty innovative stuff. The structures mimic the ecological functions of real trees through their environmentally sustainable features. Some have photovoltaic cells on their canopies to harvest solar energy to light up at night, others are integrated with cooled conservatories and serve as air exhaust receptacles.”
Black History Month: Vivien Thomas (1910-1985)
Thomas dreamed of becoming a physician, and saved his money from carpentry for seven years to attend medical school. But he lost his savings in the Great Depression, and instead began working as a laboratory assistant at John Hopkins University to Alfred Blalock, whose name is well known as a pioneer in cardiac surgery.
When Dr. Helen Taussig approached Blalock about how they could solve a congenital heart defect causing blue baby syndrome among her young patients—a condition called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF)—Blalock approached his technician Vivien Thomas with the problem. Thomas had the idea to connect the aorta to the pulmonary trunk, thus allowing blood to circulate through the pulmonary tract. Blalock asked Thomas—who was not allowed to perform surgery on white patients—to attempt to recreate the conditions of the defect on a dog and then rectify them. Thomas was only able to reproduce 2 of the 4 features of TOF, but the procedure was successful and harmless nonetheless. Thomas performed similar operations numerous times; Blalock only once. Blalock then executed the operations on the children from Taussig’s ward—with Thomas standing on a stool behind him, explaining the proper procedural methods along the way. The operations were largely successful and the “blue babies” were cured.
So what is the procedure called? The Blalock-Taussig Shunt. Thomas received no credit or mention in the development of this life-preserving method. News of the surgery spread far and wide, and confirmed Blalock’s success as a physician. Thomas still received no acknowledgement for his achievements, from the public, from Blalock, or from the university.
After Blalock’s death, Vivien Thomas stayed at John Hopkins mentoring and educating young black technicians. Though he had never received a medical degree, he was presented an honorary doctorate by the university in 1976 (but it was a doctorate of Law, presented so that his students may finally call him “doctor”). He died in 1985, just days before the publication of his autobiography.
So why is Black History Month important? Because names like Vivien Thomas need to be known, and the naming of procedure’s like the Blalock-Taussig shunt give a false impression of history. I don’t know about you, but I think Vivien Thomas shunt is a better name for the procedure.
Note: much of this I got from my class on embryology; further information was gleaned from the following sources:
If you thought that time travel was purely science fiction—think again. As science speaker Ronald Mallett explained in a recent interview, time travel has already been proven to be scientifically possible.
"Einstein’s theory says that time slows down the faster you travel," the Time Traveler author explains. "This has also been proven with clocks on passenger jets, the clocks actually slow down by a few seconds." Named as a role model for 2013, he first became interested in time travel after his father died when Mallett was only a young boy. Wanting to go back in time to spend more time with his father, he became inspired to build his own time machine. He began to read Einstein’s theories about time not being fixed, and The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, and both showed him that that his scientific pursuit wasn’t all that far-fetched.
While he says the "deep love of [his] father and [his] obsessive desire to see him again," was his primary motivation for learning theoretical physics, the more he studied the subject, the more he became passionate about it. Growing up, he says that he would read whatever books he could get his hands on.
While he admits he didn’t understand a lot of what he read at first, eventually he knew it would all make sense. Not able to afford college on his own, he joined the Air Force to get the GI Bill to pay for his school. Overcoming racial prejudice and poverty, he graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD degree in physics.
He says he wrote his book, Time Traveler, so that everyone could learn about the possibilities of traversing through time. How does he explain the phenomenon to non-scientists? "We all travel through time, but we do it day-by-day," he says. "Time travel means getting to the future faster than anyone else. A time traveler might be able to travel ten years in ten minutes." While there is still much work to be done to create a device that makes time travel practically—not just theoretically—possible, Mallett is just as dedicated to his goal today as he was when he first started on his journey. His presentations and keynotes are widely attended and spark great debate about the possibilities that stem from his research. His speeches are equal parts scientific and inspirational, and no matter what you do in life, he advises his audiences to "follow your passion and enjoy your journey through time."
Recommendations: Robot love gone too far
What happens when we program a robot to emulate human emotions? Researchers at Toshiba’s Akimu Robotic Research Institute programmed Kenji, a 3rd generation humanoid to do this and called the experiment a success after the robot started to hug a certain stuffed toy and look for it when it wasn’t around. Unfortunately, Kenji started to show the same affection towards interns around it, and even refused to let one of them out of his sight one evening. The scientists concluded that Kenji’s love for the doll, or any human it encounters is not rational or genuine. They may have to deactivate him after a while.
To read more about this story click here.
Visit the Mind Museum and meet our informative robots. Buy your tickets at www.themindmuseum.org.
Women in Science Wednesday!
Biochemist and bacteriologist Ruby Hirose was among ten women recognized by the American Chemical Society for accomplishments in chemistry, and later made major contributions to the development of vaccines against infantile paralysis.
More, from Smithsonian Institution Archives: http://s.si.edu/18vQ33i
Blink and you’ve missed it. Researchers in the US have captured the world’s first X-ray images of lightning, by creating a special camera that can capture radiation at 10 million frames per second. They presented their new findings at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco and they say that this new view of lightning could help to solve some of the mysteries of this spectacular natural phenomenon.
The research was carried out at the International Center for Lightning Research and Testing, located in Florida. It is one of the few sites in world where lightning is initiated and studied under controlled conditions. By firing rockets with trailing wires into thunder clouds, scientists are able to generate electric fields that are large enough to trigger bolts of lightning, which then propagate back down towards the rocket launch tower.
Joseph Dwyer and colleagues at the Florida Institute of Technology became interested in the fact that lightning emits X-rays as it propagates through the air, a phenomenon that was only noted in the past decade. But given that X-ray sources in lightning travel through the Earth’s atmosphere at velocities approaching the speed of light, it is difficult to catch them on camera before they disappear. In addition, they cannot be imaged with standard mirrors and lenses because huge amounts of material are required to prevent X-rays and gamma rays from entering through the sides of a camera.
Dwyer’s team has created a customized camera that has 30 detectors made from a combination of sodium iodide and photomultiplier tubes, each measuring 3 × 3 inch. The device, which is approximately the size of a standard refrigerator, is also equipped with a 3 inch pinhole aperture, and can record X-rays at 10 million frames per second. “This is actually a very old technique for making images, like that seen in a camera obscura,” Dwyer says.
During July and August this year, Dwyer’s team studied four rocket-triggered lightning flashes at the Florida test site. Each flash lasted for approximately two seconds and the resulting sequences of images revealed that X-rays emerged primarily from the vicinity of the lightning tip as it propagated towards the Earth. As the lightning crashed into the control tower it also triggered large bursts of gamma radiation, which were also captured by the camera.
“For the first time we’re catching a glimpse of lightning in the X-ray emission,” says Dwyer. “We’re seeing lightning as Superman would see it with his X-ray vision”.
Credit: James Dacey/physicsworld.com
Beautiful ‘flowers’ self-assemble in a beaker
With the hand of nature trained on a beaker of chemical fluid, the most delicate flower structures have been formed in a Harvard laboratory—and not at the scale of inches, but microns.
These minuscule sculptures, curved and delicate, don’t resemble the cubic or jagged forms normally associated with crystals, though that’s what they are. Rather, fields of carnations and marigolds seem to bloom from the surface of a submerged glass slide, assembling themselves a molecule at a time.
By simply manipulating chemical gradients in a beaker of fluid, Wim L. Noorduin, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and lead author of a paper appearing on the cover of the May 17 issue of Science, has found that he can control the growth behavior of these crystals to create precisely tailored structures.
“For at least 200 years, people have been intrigued by how complex shapes could have evolved in nature. This work helps to demonstrate what’s possible just through environmental, chemical changes,” says Noorduin.
If Earth Had Rings
First off, they would be really pretty to look at. They would also dominate the sky in both night and day at exactly the same place as they would never rise nor set. And at night you would see the Earth’s shadow swing across the rings, like in the 4th photo here.
However, life would be very different on Earth if this were the case. Nocturnal animals would have a hard time being nocturnal, as the light reflecting from the rings would illuminate the night.
Because we are closer to the Sun than Saturn is, the rings would be more rocky than ice, making them less bright but still pretty bright. In fact, you would see far less stars at night (living anywhere other than the equator or the arctic circle) because of the light pollution and not to mention ruin most meteor showers because of that.
During the day the rings would block sunlight in certain regions of the planet creating wild weather cycles and effecting plant life as well. So basically, they would be definitely pretty to look at but they would also make a whole lot of things screwy.
Illustrations by Ron Miller // io9
— Click the photos for captions
World’s ‘Most Beautiful’ Eternal Flame Reveals New Gas Source
Nestled behind a waterfall in western New York state is an eternal flame whose beauty is only surpassed by its mystery. It is one of a few hundred “natural” eternal flames around the world, fed by gas seeping to the Earth’s surface from underground, said Arndt Schimmelmann, a researcher at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.
But even within this rarefied group, this flame is special. Perhaps lit by Native Americans hundreds or thousands of years ago, it is fed by a new type of geologic process that hasn’t been recorded before in nature, Schimmelmann told OurAmazingPlanet.
Typically, this type of gas is thought to come from deeply submerged, ancient and extremely hot deposits of shale, a kind of rock. Temperatures have to be near the boiling point of water or hotter to break down the large carbon molecules in shale and create smaller molecules of natural gas, Schimmelmann explained.
A curiosity “nobody believed in”
In this case, though, the rocks that feed the flame are only warm — “like a cup of tea” — as well as geologically younger than expected, and shallow, Schimmelmann said. Those findings suggest the gas is being produced by a different process, whereby some sort of catalyst is creating gas from organic molecules in the shale, he said.
“This mechanism has been proposed for many years, but it was a curiosity that nobody believed in,” Schimmelmann said. “We think there’s a different pathway of gas generation in this location and that there probably is elsewhere as well.” If that’s true, and gas is naturally produced this way in other locations, “we have much more shale-gas resources than we thought,” he added.
Originally, Schimmelmann and his colleague Maria Mastalerz, of the Indiana Geological Survey, were tasked by the U.S. Department of Energy to estimate the total amount of methane that seeps out of the ground in parts of the eastern United States. To help, they recruited Giuseppe Etiope, a researcher at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy, and world expert on natural gas seeps and eternal flames, Schimmelmann said.
A flame eternal
Etiope guided the researchers to the aforementioned eternal flame in Chestnut Ridge Park in western New York, calling it “the most beautiful in the world,” Schimmelmann said. They also looked at a “permanently burning pit” in Cook Forest State Park in northwestern Pennsylvania, although this eternal flame is not as special because it’s supplied by an old gas well, Schimmelmann said. The team reported their findings on the New York eternal flame in a studypublished in the May issueof the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology.
Their results were consistent with estimates that about 30 percent of all methane emitted worldwide comes from natural sources such as these gas seeps. When possible, it can actually be beneficial to set fire to these gas seeps to create “eternal flames.” Fire converts methane to carbon dioxide, whichtraps about 20 times less heat than methane in the atmosphere, Mastalerz told OurAmazingPlanet.
However, “macro seeps” that can be lit and form eternal flames remain rare. In most cases, gas percolates through soil — where methane-eating bacteria convert it into carbon dioxide, Schimmelmann said — or it comes out in a location that can’t sustain combustion. In the case of the New York flame, gas percolates in a naturally hollowed-out chamber, where the flame flickers eternally.
The New York gas seep also features the highest concentration of ethane and propane of any seep in the world, according to the study.
Isabel Chen, a medical student at UBC, is part of a team that has invented a mobile panic button for street-based sex trade workers in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
A voice or text message is first recorded onto a SIM card, which is inserted into a GPS-enabled device such as a pager that would only need to be charged once a week. Pressing a button on the pager activates the GPS and sends an emergency message and GPS location to a contact who can get help. Because the GPS is not activated until the device is activated, the anonymity of the user is preserved.
This is such a great idea I’m surprised it wasn’t already invented years ago!
I’m sure everyone has heard about the great Lake Baikal, and if you haven’t,boy, are you missing out.
This ancient lake, which is about 25 million years old, and thought to be the oldest in the world, contains 20% of the world’s unfrozen fresh water. That’s right, it contains just 1% less fresh water than all the Great Lakes combined,while it’s surface area is over 7 times smaller.
Why is that, you ask? It’s because Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world: It’s maximum depth is 1642 meters, which is deep enough for the Eiffel Tower to stand on itself 5 times and not reach the surface.
But it gets better: the Lake Baikal is among the clearest lakes of the world, so you can see the bottom to a depth of nearly 40 meters, and you can drink right from it, no purifying needed. Furthermore, Lake Baikal sustains 2630 different species of animals and plants, 80% of which are unique to it, and can’t be found anywhere else.
Oh, and by the way? Under both the lake and it’s underwater sediment some of Earth’s tallest mountains(plural!) are submerged, their height over 7000 meters.
Lake Baikal is perhaps one of the world’s most amazing, awe-inspiring, and unique locations, and I would seriously recommend everybody who has some free time on their hands to discover more on their own.
Awesome bubble geometry!
Einstein addressing students at Lincoln University, May 1946.
“As for the Negroes this country still has a heavy debt to discharge for all the troubles and disabilities it has laid on the Negro’s shoulders; for all that his fellow-citizens have done and to some extent are still doing to him. To the Negro and his wonderful songs and choirs we owe the finest contribution in the realm of art which America has so far given to the world. And this great gift we owe, not to those whose names are engraved on this ‘Wall of Fame’ but to children of the people, blossoming namelessly as the lilies of the field.” 
“There is … a somber point in the social outlook of Americans … Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am dearly conscious; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of ‘Whites’ toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes. … The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out.”
Racism is America’s greatest disease” and “Racism is a disease of the white man.” Albert Einstein