Claire Lehmann’s presentation departs from her essay “Color Goes Electric” (Triple Canopy, 2016). Lehmann examines the development of color photography and its admission into the canon of contemporary art. While photography has long been considered to be indexical to its subject matter, the incorporation of color into the medium raises a unique challenge to this idea, as the colors of the world had to be transformed into the information of film—a highly mediated operation designed around the complexities of human visual processing. The responses of the eye must work in concert with memory, preference, and physical stimuli to produce “pleasingness”; but whose preferences—whose eye—does the camera privilege? And how has the reproduction of photographs shaped and reinforced those processes further? Lehmann shows how corporate objectives and consumer preferences deeply inflected the development of color imaging as a technical process, and how photography as art was influenced by its cultural imbrication.

Example images of color calibration photography provided by Claire Lehmann from her collection.