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Synge and Edwardian Ireland$
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Brian Cliff and Nicholas Grene

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199609888

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609888.001.0001

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With His ‘Mind-Guided Camera’

With His ‘Mind-Guided Camera’

J. M. Synge, J. J. Clarke, and the Visual Politics of Edwardian Street Photography

Chapter:
(p.186) 11 With His ‘Mind-Guided Camera’
Source:
Synge and Edwardian Ireland
Author(s):

Justin Carville

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609888.003.0012

This chapter examines John Millington Synge’s use of photography in late Victorian and Edwardian Ireland. Drawing on the writings of Georg Simmel and Walter Benjamin, the chapter discusses Synge’s engagement with photography along with that of his contemporary John Joseph Clarke. Through a discussion of the shifting cultural practices of amateur photography and the industrialisation of camera technologies, the influence of street-photography on Synge’s writings are considered with particular reference to the politics of eye-contact in public spaces. These anxieties about ocular exchange became increasingly embedded within Edwardian modernity, and the cultural practices of street-photography became an arena through which face to face encounter between different classes and genders in urban space could be negotiated. This chapter suggests that Synge played out his own version of these apprehensions about ocular exchange and urban modernity through the use of photography in his ethnographic and journalistic writings.

Keywords:   Walter Benjamin, Georg Simmel, street-photography, amateurism, visual culture, The Aran Islands, primitivism, technological modernity, literary modernism, ethnography

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