The History of Photography: Carl W. Ackermans George Eastman
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Until then, a good product was supposed to fill a need and was expected to sell itself.
As long as we can pay for all our improvements and also some dividends I think we can keep on the upper road. We have never yet started a new department that we have not made it pay for itself very quickly. In , Kodak established a wholesale office in London, opening its first store there a year later. From then on, dozens of branches sprang up in England, France, Germany, and elsewhere in Europe. Designed to appeal to his clientele of amateurs, the exhibitions were primarily made up of state-of-the-art cameras and prints selected at competitions.
To add a bit of interest to the lists of anonymous participants, some celebrities were invited to present their photographs as well: in England, Queen Alexandra; in the United States, the photographers Alfred Stieglitz 7 and Edward Steichen. Following an international competition open to amateurs specifically using Kodak equipment, a jury consisting of professional and amateur photographers as well as a representative of the photography industry made a selection of prints from among the thousands sub mitted. All were then elegantly arranged by a newly hired scenographer, George Walton.
On the strength of this success, the exhibition travelled abroad to the National Academy of Design in New York the following year, where the number of visitors was estimated at no less than twenty-six thousand. Between and , exhibitions crisscrossed the United States by train, while in the Grand Kodak Exhibition was transported by truck from city to city throughout the British provinces The presentation consisted of a slide show, a demonstration film, and forty-one panels, thirty-eight of prints and enlargements and three of technical equipment.
The exhibitions required large venues, concert or meeting halls such as the Washington Artillery Hall in New Orleans or the Peabody Hotel in Memphis both in Once again, the initiative met with success: Kodak employees even claimed that the doors had to be closed repeatedly to control the crowds. Invited to participate along with hundreds of other companies, Kodak was determined to set itself apart by becoming a must-see destination. Between spring and summer , Kodak conducted one of its most aggressive campaigns with the aim of convincing the organizing committee to allow it not only to exhibit its products and prints but also to sell its film and set up a darkroom where it could be developed on site.
This booklet was presented as a souvenir, but it also served as a model that might encourage visitors to replicate its images and to record the event by taking photographs of their own. According to Douglas Collins, this exhibition set a precedent in the United States. Under pressure from Kodak, the committee finally relented somewhat and allowed the company to sell its film, but only well after the fair had opened.
Kodak took the opportunity to offer it free as compensation for the admission surcharge, which remained in force. From then on, visitors came not just to see the latest scientific discoveries, industrial advances, and colonial conquests but to photograph and preserve a private memory of them.
Instead of announcing that fact, the firm observed a lengthy period of silence, full of mystery and emotion. In doing so, it was extending a process of myth-making already begun before his death. At the same time, authors set about writing authorized biographies like Carl W. In , Leopold Godowsky and Leopold Mannes discovered a new reversal process.
With its 35 mm format, this slide film could now be used in compact cameras and introduced to the growing amateur photography market. However, despite constant efforts to surmount the technical hurdles, slides had a hard time attracting customers because of their high price and their transparency. They either had to be projected or viewed under highly specific conditions against a light background, using a light table or special viewer , so that one had to wait to enjoy them, which was then a delicate operation.
Kodak had to work quickly to solve the problem. There was an enormous amount at stake: to ensure its growth, the company had to constantly open up new markets. Its members, mostly financiers, chose to weight the event more toward industries than countries. War was officially declared on September 1, resulting in the immediate closure of a number of pavilions, including those of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Poland. The emphatic optimism of the theme coupled with an unprecedented advertising campaign seems to have attracted enormous numbers of visitors, forty-five million in two years, equivalent to a quarter of the US population.
The Kodak Pavilion was located in the Production and Distribution zone, which contained industries that converted natural resources into manufactured products. In addition to this thematic structure, a network of three main arteries imposed a broad-stroke division of the site using primary colours, whose shades intensified the further one got from their starting point.
Thus, the visit began in the whiteness of the Trylon and Perisphere, which were located at the intersection of the three main roads, and continued in shades of red on the Constitution Mall, yellow on the Avenue of Patriots, and blue on the Avenue of Pioneers. Its location itself was already highly symbolic.
Although there was competition among the companies, collaboration was the order of the day. Practical solutions were devised to increase visibility and ensure high attendance.
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Each company diversified its presence while attempting to stand out from the crowd with its own pavilion; combining collaboration and the setting aside of rivalries, the need to innovate, and the need to control the market, this was a microcosm that allowed capitalist principles to come fully into play.
In addition, Kodak once again published a booklet of the best views of the fair. Not content merely to guide visitors and provide them with the ideal equipment, the company also showed them how to make their prints and above all what to photograph. Displays adorned with images of the fair were made available at all US branches. Dealers were encouraged to remind their customers to make sure they had the proper equipment so as not to miss any of the attractions, which went on day and night.
For the spectacle continued round the clock; at dusk, the pavilions were transformed by neon lighting. Needless to say, Kodak stood ready with the most effective means for working in these special conditions — a specially sensitive film. Nor did the campaign of persuasion stop there: Kodak offered all the promotional materials free of charge and facilitated the process of setting them up in shop windows and stores by providing an explanatory kit.
The company took care of everything, from the material to its use, from the dealers to the customers; its control was absolute. Although Kodak had vast experience in marketing, advertising, and organizing trade shows, this New York experiment involved a new mode of distribution. After spreading its presence to the four corners of the earth, Kodak was now for the first time constructing an entire building to its own greater glory, one capable of accommodating thousands of consumers.
The architect Eugene Gerbeux and the scenographers Walter Dorwin Teague and Stowe Myers created a design that was uncompromisingly modern: a flat roof; large plate glass windows; and clean, uncluttered geometric spaces. The structure stood out from a distance thanks to a triangular tower more than twenty metres high with twenty black and white images 2.
The print replaced the banner. The dimly lit entry hall contained a series of Kodachromes and offered a foretaste of the contents of the main hall, the Great Hall of Color, an enormous semicircular space with a radius of fifty-five feet and an area of two thousand square metres. After being almost literally submerged in this installation, the public continued its journey through the Kodak universe. It first made its way toward a globe nestled in the opening of a wall with little light bulbs indicating the locations of Eastman factories throughout the world and, showing next to it, two films about the company.
Daniel Gutierrez-Sandoval (Author of Understanding Art)
Halfway through the pavilion, three exhibits depicted the various fields in which black and white and colour photography were used, for example, amateur photography, medicine x-rays, photomicrography, spectroscopy , astronomy, education, home movies, and commercial photography. The relationship to time was central; everything possible was done to make the moment memorable; nostalgia was on sale here, and photography provided the most adequate tool for recollection.
From a propaganda tool, the fair was transformed into a photographic subject and an object of consumption. Beneath the attractive exterior lay a highly aggressive marketing strategy. This detail was widely publicized by the firm in its magazines and also at the site, because it strengthened the connection with the users in the hall. The projectors were perfectly coordinated to produce illusionistic rhythmic and spatial effects.
The fluidity of the result was due to an ingenious moving mechanism: two drum gears, a metre in diameter and capable of holding ninety-six images each, rotated side by side around each projector, causing the images to follow one another very quickly. A picture forever to be remembered. Had photography now become a patriotic gesture? Indeed, the interwar years were marked by significant changes in American politics. The New Deal —36 created a coordinated program of economic reforms to counteract the disastrous results of the stock market crash.
The various policies adopted led, among other things, to a new way of seeing the consumer. Regarded for years simply as a link in the economic chain, he or she now became an important political actor, his or her every purchase viewed as a contribution to economic recovery, an act of citizenship.
As an unlikely spokesman for technology, Chaplin reassures the consumer that the PC protects its user against the chaos of modernity. He pats the device approvingly as if it were a friendly dog. Miniaturized and domesticated, the computer represents modernity contained. Placating its user, the PC acts as a technological opiate for the masses.
Trailing the Bolsheviki; Twelve Thousand Miles with the Allies in Siberia
Both Apple and IBM exemplify the persistence of nostalgia as a tool for mass-marketing emerging technologies. In both of the campaigns mentioned above, historic figures are paired with computers as signs that tie technical progress to the quest for return. Through two different expressions of nos- talgia, both corporations have successfully created vast communities of users who identify, at times religiously, with the products. IBM and Apple represent two of many artificial homelands created for the con- sumer, even though the love of soil no longer looms above the passion for constructed identity.
Centuries of technological progress accompa- nied by the signs of nostalgia have now turned rootless artifice into its own historical tradition.