Institute for Social & Cultural Anthropology
Archival Research: Bodelian & Pitt Rivers Museum
University of Oxford

Paper Title: Seeing in Solids: Stereoscopic Anthropology & Scientific Pictorial Realism


Professor Charles Wheatstone’s 1838 stereoscope, and other ‘philosophical toys’ of the 19th century, were part of growing physiological study of human vision . Thinkers who preceded him, from ancient mathematician Euclid to Leonardo DaVinci, noted that human vision is composed of two distinct images delivered from the left and right eye. However, Wheatstone had been the first to conceive of the disparity of the two retinal images as a positive process towards binocular function in unison (Carpenter 1862: 6). The stereoscope departed from studies of optics as a phenomenon, ideally irrespective of human perception and experience.

Wheatstone’s stereoscope positioned binocular vision as a function for increased accuracy of form and three-dimensional relief. This was unique, William Benjamic Carpenter explained in an 1862 lecture, because retinal disparity had been classically understood as a contradictory or confused aspect of human vision. “Far from being a cause of embarrassment, [retinal disparity] is actually the most certain source of our appreciation of this solidity or projection” (Carpenter 1862: 6)…

StereoGlass Archives, Richard Hotto, French Colonial Ethnographer, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford

5ps_3.26_PRM_23 10_1994_62_47-O 2ps_3.26_PRM_2 6_1994_62_142_2-O 3ps_3.26_PRM_20 4psPRM_Hottot_4 9_1994_62_408-O 7_1994_62_229_2-O 8_1994_62_351-O
StereoBox Archives, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford



Brief Visual History of the Stereoscope, Bodelian Libraries, Oxford
1_1911 Und Und_Travel within Reach of All_Stereo Camera_21


2_1950 Judge_317_GeoClassroom Und Und

3_1911 Und Und_Travel within Reach of All_22

Stereograms, Judge 1950

4_1950 Judge_334_Human Eye 11_1950 Judge_386_Aerial Photographs_1918 1950 Judge_323_Atomic Arragngeent 10_1950 Judge_377_StereoXRay 6_1950 Judge_383_StereoRadiograph 12_1950 Judge_Front Cover_Moon 1896 1900 9_1950 Judge_328_Anatomical Stereograms Showing Body Dissected 8_1950 Judge_324_Pearlite Structures in steel 5_1950 Judge_366_Astronomical Stereograms

Equipment, Judge 1950

14_1950 Judge Arthur_172_ AutoStereogram Viewing Device 13_1950 3rd ed Judge_153_Folding Viewers

15_1950 Judge_Examination of Eye_328 17_1950 Judge_Binocular Telescope 16_1950 Judge_352_Microscope

Dalzell 1935

40_Dalzell 1935_1953_Fig 12_ViewMaster Reel 51_Dalzell 1935_1953_Fig 18 19_Projector 50_Dalzell 1935_1953_Fig 20_Projector 30_Dalzell 1935_1953_Fig 13 BeamSplitter 20_Dalzell 1935_1953_Fig1_Homeos Camera 35mm 19_Dalzell 1935_1953_Fig 5 StereoRealist

Stereoscopic Viewing Methods

53_Drouin 1894_132_Slide Mount 52_Free Viewing Methods In Symons 1957_189_Mirrors 54_Free Viewing Methods In Symons 1957_189. 55_Drouin 1894_48_Stereoscope Used in Hand 55_Drouin 1894_79_Free Viewing

Equipment, Drouin 1894

66_Drouin 1894_146_Binoc_Double Cam_Tripod 69_Drouin 1894_140_Binocular Camera_Bellows 57_Drouin 1894_47_Adjustable Focus for Those with Spectacles 56_Drouin 1894_51_2shillings 68_Drouin 1894_142_Binocular Cam_Small 70_Drouin 1894_141_Binocular Cam_Bellows 59_Drouin 1894_49_Refaction Stereoscope Useful for Mounted Pictures 64_Drouin 1894_133_Slide Mount II 62_Drouin 1894_46_Dubosq first construct ground glass for transparencies 67_Drouin 1894_143_Binocualr Cam_TriPod 60_Drouin 1894_57 Pocket Stereoscope 71_Drouin 1894_54_Column holds 200 65_Drouin 1894_147_Binoc Came_Mount 58_Drouin 1894_59_Not Dismountable 63_Drouin 1894_56_Graphoscope_Fold to Pocket Book 61_Drouin 1894_50


The Birth of Stereoscopic & The Image that Doesn’t Exist

Stereoscopic imaging fundamentally differs from photography because it is not an inscriptive medium. In other words, stereoscopic images cannot be physically recorded. They are instead made up of two, two-dimensional images taken from degrees of perspectival difference which mimic the position of the left and right eye. Even with advances in 21st century imaging, directors like James Cameron and Martin Scorsese, use a ‘3D fusion’ rig of two, adjacently positioned digital movie cameras to make digital stereoscopic, 3D, cinema (similar to the camera rig pictured in the introductory stereoscopic glossary). Without polarized, shutter, or anaglyphic glasses, 3D cinema appears as a composite of these two perspectives, fuzzy to the naked eye.

Similarly, the stereogram, or stereocard, pictures two, adjacent two-dimensional photographs, which only become three-dimensional through a stereoscope, or trained free-viewing methods, such as cross eyed focus. By delivering the respective images to the left and right eye, the brain is able to converge the views into the appearance of a singular, three-dimensional image. This is important because the three-dimensional image ‘exists’ in the mind of the viewer, unlike the photographic image, which is inscribed on material film. The stereoscopic image, seen in three-dimensions, therefore cannot appear without a minimum level of optical focus, and thus participation, from the viewer.

Etymologically, photography translates as ‘writing with light’[1], whether onto film or digital sensors, whereas the stereoscope is an instrument for ‘seeing solids’[2]. It is important to differentiate two-dimensional and three-dimensional imaging because while photography, derived from the Renaissance study of light and optics in the camera obscura (Crary 1990, 1994). The stereoscope derived from burgeoning interest in human vision during nineteenth century physiology (Wheatstone 1838, Brewster 1856, Carpenter 1862, Holmes 1864,) and later in experimental psychology (Carpenter 1872, Lough 1904, Ellison 1912, Osbourne 1912, Dalzell 1936).

Decorporealized vs. Corporealized Technological Vision

Art historian, Jonathan Crary, deconstructs normative histories of science and culture, which trace a continuous evolution from the linear perspective of fifteenth century Renaissance painting, through Galileo, Newton, British empiricism, the camera obscura, and ultimately photography. Within this model, each stage is thought to mark aspirations towards increasing verisimilitude, which culminate in twentieth century photography and cinema (Crary 1992: 26).

Crary argues that the camera obscura reflects a decorporealized approach to vision, which was dominant in European rationalism and empiricism in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Descartes, Locke, and Newton sought a plane of external phenomena, irrespective of the observer or human vision (Crary 1992: 59). The camera obscura, epitomized pure or idealized vision, untarnished by the incongruous and sensuous irregularity of human perception.

The stereoscope departed from studies of optics as a phenomenon, ideally irrespective of human perception and experience. Professor Charles Wheatstone’s 1838 stereoscope, and other ‘philosophical toys’ of the 19th century, were part of growing physiological study of human vision . Thinkers who preceded him, from ancient mathematician Euclid to Leonardo DaVinci, noted that human vision is composed of two distinct images delivered from the left and right eye. However, Wheatstone had been the first to conceive of the disparity of the two retinal images, from the left and right eye, as a positive process towards binocular function in unison (Carpenter 1862: 6).

Wheatstone’s stereoscope positioned binocular vision as a function for increased accuracy of form and three-dimensional relief. This was unique, William Benjamic Carpenter explained in an 1862 lecture, because retinal disparity had  been classically understood as a contradictory or confused aspect of human vision. “Far from being a cause of embarrassment, [retinal disparity] is actually the most certain source of our appreciation of this solidity or projection” (Carpenter 1862: 6).

The camera obscura, on the contrary, was used to inspect an orderly plane of the external world, untarnished by the human senses (Crary 1992: 43). This physical plane of projection acted as a Cartesian table of delimited space in which positions could be compared and ordered (Crary 2003: 60). For Crary, the early nineteenth century saw shifts towards subjective, instead of positivistic, vision through developments like the stereoscope in physiology, Hegel’s phenomenology, and romanticism’s interest in the unique perception of artists and poets (Crary 1992: 5). Crary defines subjective vision as the “notion that the quality of our sensations depends less on the nature of the stimulus and more on the makeup and functioning of our sensory apparatus” (Crary 1994: 21).

19th Century Physiology, Binocular Vision, Realism & Philosophical Toys

The increased attunement to the physiological functioning of binocular vision in no way implied a decreased belief in vision as the primary means of accessing and constructing objective information. Rather, the rhetoric around realism in representation shifted, in some cases, to legitimize the perceptual experience of the stimulus more than the external stimuli. These shifts are most explicit by the end of the 19th century as experimental psychology gained more prominence.

The stereoscope emerged alongside other ‘philosophical toys,’ used to study sensory phenomena like visual persistence (thaumatrope), depth perception (stereoscope), and motion (zoetrope). Although invented as scientific instruments, these innovations found popularity for entertainment and later classroom education (Wade 2004: 1025).  While the term, ‘philosophical toy,’ connotes more novelty than rigorous science today, ‘philosophy’ referred more broadly to the study of nature, marking a time of accelerated advances in many scientific disciplines, which didn’t have the same subfield make-up of the 20th and 21st century (Wade 2004: 1025).

Additionally, while the 19th century analog stereoscopic image might appear as toy-like in comparison to 21st century advances in media, the stereoscope was popularized just as daguerreotypes and developments in photography were becoming part of mass culture. Long before film, television, and the media proliferation of the 20th century, the stereoscope’s depiction of three-dimensional space was advocated as a significant advancement in pictorial realism. By addressing the proclemations of the stereoscopic image as a medium for heightened truthful representation and visual experience, we can contextualize how it might have been perceived in turn of the century anthropology.

Scottish physicist, Sir David Brewster, who invented both the kaleidoscope and the favored 1850s design of the stereoscope, passionately advocated use of the stereoscope in the scientific and popular realm. Just five years after receiving attention from the Queen at London’s Great Exhibition in 1851, the London Stereoscopic Company had sold 500,000 stereoscope viewers (Brewster 1856: 36-37, Dalzel 1936 :23). The stereoscope was marketed as a viewing experience which often had stereocard sets designed for popular narratives and didactic educational lessons. Thus, it can be helpful to think, as Palmquist has, of the stereoscope more as a Victorian television which brought the “world” to the parlor room (Palmquist 1979: 89).

The affordable design was part of a larger democratization of media brought by the industrial revolution. Daily and weekly press were “charging at the barriers of ignorance” to “herald the dawn of larger scientific acquirements and better founded civilization” (Lonie 1856: 8). Brewster encouraged the stereoscope’s use for the betterment of general knowledge, expanding upon prior models of the eye as the heightened organ for knowledge acquisition to binocular perception, as the apex of truth.

Like Brewster’s reference to ‘truthful pictures,’ stereoscopic images were praised for being more truthful because they provided a more rounded or full representation of the object and the spatial distance between objects. Photography, in contrast, could only represent the appearance of depth and form through light and shading within the image (Lough 1904: 3). Geometric, or linear perspective, similarly added two-dimensional effect in plano, but did nothing in the three-dimensional medium in relievo (Brewster 1856: 3). What appears as a receding railroad track in a painting, for example, would not necessarily do so in a stereoscopic image. For Brewster, this signified the difference of  “nature flattened upon paper or metal, and Nature round and plump, as if fresh from the chisel of the Divine sculptor” (Brewster 1856: 181). The personification of the sun as ‘Divine sculptor’ is an important trope because it reveals the belief in the stereoscope as an unmediated representation of reality, much like photography. The role of human perception in creating the illusion wasn’t seen as contradictory to this indexical representation, but additive.
Physician, Oliver Wendell Holmes, who invented the popular ‘Holmes viewer’, is perhaps the most verbose writer with the most prolific hopes for the stereoscope. He envisioned encyclopedic libraries of stereoviews, which would hold the forms of the world’s greatest monuments and natural wonders (Holmes 1864: 163).  Like Brewster’s Divine sculptor, Holmes’ Promethean pencil hailed light’s role in authoring the stereoscopic image, much as was done with the camera. Brewster praised the “fidelity of his pencil and the accuracy of his chronicle, truth itself will be embalmed” (Brewster 1856: 181). Because the stereoscopic image is predominantly comprised of two binocular photographs, the stereoscope was an extension to many 19th century constructs of the camera, with the addition of mimicking ‘normative’ space perception.

This ability to emulate a more realistic viewing experience of physical form is the second aspect that defined stereoscopic value in scientific discourse, or the seeing half of to see solids. Two-dimensional images were considered to ‘cheat the senses’ (Holmes 1864: 140), because the experience of viewing didn’t trigger the physical sensory experience of binocular vision. Geometric modeling, two-dimensional photography, and linear perspective gave the sense of depth but not the sensation of viewing depth (Lonie 1856: 17). Because the viewer’s eyes only focus on one plane within a two-dimensional image, the eyes do not have to physically contract or retract focally on different planes within the image.

This concept became particularly important with experimental psychology, which posited the photograph as “flat and unreal, without any actual depth to our consciousness” (Lough 1904: 4). Within stereoscopic images, particularly those which clearly illustrate multiple planes, the eyes optically converge at different points by physically focusing on different focal planes. This sensation was accentuated by the hooded design of the stereoscope, which similar to mid-20th century View-Masters, created a tunnel-vision focus within the planes of the image. Users could transcend their immediate environment by literally blocking it out (Underwood Travel System Pamphlet 1911: 12). This facilitated a form of stereo-travel from the comfort of the parlor room armchair with the realistic sensation of viewing caused by optical convergence within the image.

Again, as Wheatsone’s etymology of the stereoscope implied, the dual benefits to seeing – solids differentiated the stereoscopic medium from two-dimensional image systems. Particularly by the end of the 19th century, the stereoscope’s ability to simulate the experience of reality was upheld as just as important as the physical reality itself (Elison 1903: 572). In keeping with prior constructs of knowledge through the visual organ, emulating visual experience was the most important aspect of sensory experience needed for that reality.

1900 Underwood & Underwood’s Commercial Stereoscope Empire & Experimental Psychology

The commercial stereocard conglomerate, Underwood & Underwood, for example, produced mass amounts of literature espousing the reality of travel through the stereoscope (Osbourne 1903, Ellison 1903, Underwood & Underwood 1905, 1911). The firm designed a unique travel system, distributing systematic stereocard box sets based on region or subject along with a map system and tour book of the places pictured, written in first person by scholars who acted as expert guides to the views. By 1901, the firm was producing 25,000 stereocards a day and selling more than 300,000 stereoscopes a year (Muriuki, Sobania 2007:1).

Within this literature, the absence of other sensory stimulus was not ignored, but relegated as unnecessary. Psychologist, James Lough, explained in an Underwood & Underwood introduction, that “noises, odors, fatigue, hunger, etc. -at first makes stereo seem less “real” (Lough 1904: 3). However, these factors are not “of any real value to the sightseer; indeed they may even constitute the distractions and vexations of the occasion” (Lough 1904: 3). The sense of sight was upheld as the most important sense in the experience of location and place.

The meter of whether streoscopic travel was real or not, was argued to be evident in the viewer’s memory of the experience. This test of consciousness would reveal whether the viewer remembered the external environment during viewing or a sense of being within the image. Memories of photographs, Underwood & Underwood’s literature argued, fell into the former in which one’s surrounding environment, as in a museum, classroom, or grocery stores was included in the memory (Osbourne 1903: 579). Memories of stereoviews, on the other hand, created the recollection of being within the image and rarely of the immediate context of viewing. Memory, thus acted as a meter of the mental experience of pictorial engagement (Lough 1904: 5).

The emphasis on mental experience over physical reality was a distinctive break from previous models of representational reality. However, the increased solidity of physical form was also upheld as integral to the stereoscope’s powers. In his lecture on the Unconscious Action of the Brain (1871), over thirty years after Wheatstone’s original stereoscope, Carpenter notes that classical questions of the relationship between mind and matter, or man and the external world, were beginning to take a new form for the physical philosophers of the period. Because this approach distorted Cartesian models of mind/body, Carpenter noted that the theories were often accused of “materialism, and atheism” when speaking of the mind as a function of the brain. Carpenter became one of the early pioneers of the complex role of the brain, memory, dreams, and consciousness in forming human reality (Carpenter 1871: 5).

As an upheaval of Cartesian dualism, Carpenter’s ideas of the unconscious and perception, as a more holistic system, would only gain prominence after the Gestalt psychologists of the 1920s (Wright 1992: 23). Toby Wilkinson suggests that it was the fragility of stereoscopic illusion, compared with the consistency of the Cartesian plane, which discouraged archaeologist J.S.P. Bradford not to publish his archives of aerovisual stereographs (Wilkinson 2007: 34). As Wilkinson notes, it was not uncommon for many of the publications Bradford collected in the 1940s and 1950s, such as Illustrated London News, to feature stereoscopic images. Bradford extensively used, and recommended, stereoscopic lantern slides in his lectures for projection and instruction. However, Wilkinson suggests that the stereoscopic image did not have the Cartesian safety, which separated subject and object in viewing (Wilkinson 2007: 34). I will now extend how the stereoscope’s unique pictorial system might have fit within late nineteenth and early twentieth century anthropology.

    As previously discussed, the stereoscope demands a literal focus from the viewer to mentally converge the two stereoimages into stereoscopic illusion. Coupled with the unique requirement to often block out external environment, the stereoscope creates an immersive experience of viewing in which the eyes can almost wander through and trace different planes within the image (Holmes 1864). This immersive focus has been used in many sciences, such as radiology or molecular modeling, for heightened physical scrutiny (Dalzell 1936). In entertainment such as 3D cinema, 1950s View-Masters, or 19th century parlor room stereoscopes, this viewing engagement has been used to transport viewers to far away or fantastical environments. The stereoscope’s focused gaze has also been used, as Meredith Bak argues, for discipline and control, as in the early 20th century classroom (Bak 2012).

Biological Anthropology, Darwin, Galton & Early Constructions of Race & Eugenics

This particular viewing relationship also suited the physical imperatives of early biological anthropology, as a generative tool for increased scrutiny. Within later shifts into more intangible investigations of early 20th century anthropology, however, the embodied gaze and scrutiny of the stereoscope was no longer advantageous. Rather, standard photography could more easily be used as a document, archival evidence, or illustration, which didn’t necessitate an active viewer.

 In Franz Boas’ 1904 article on the history of anthropology, he notes that by the late 19th century, the influence of biology and of Charles Darwin, shifted anthropological investigation towards understanding how racial typologies fit along an evolutionary spectrum (Boas 1904: 520). The next step, he explains, was a shift in using quantitative methods from anatomy to physiology and experimental psychology (Boas 1904: 522). Boas attributes this shift to the initial work of Francis Galton.

In his 1879 paper, Galton suggests using the stereoscope to generate composite portraits of idealized racial characteristics (Galton 1879). The cousin of Charles Darwin and an infamous eugenicist, Galton championed the study of human mental and physical form through the social evolutionary paradigms, which prevailed at the time. To gain more comparative and statistical accuracy in generating what might be the average feature of a group of men, Galton suggests a system of portrait superimposition.  By layering multiple portraits on top of one another, Galton hailed the result as a ‘portrait of a type,’ an ‘ideal face’ with the average features, which one might find in a particular group (Galton 1879: 134).

By using a stereoscope, which could merge two distinct images, the composite portrait reached optimum effect, particularly when taken with the recommended binocular camera. Galton hailed the composite portrait through the stereoscope not only for the mechanical ability to superimpose features for comparison and averaging, but as a test of statistical conclusions, almost as if taking a mathematical mean of a certain physical feature (Galton 1879: 140).

       While Galton encouraged use of his composite portrait method for creating racial typologies, he discovered the method in search of the ‘villainous irregularities’ presumed to make up criminal typologies. Galton’s proposed use of photographic portraits through the stereoscope not to illustrate constructions of racial or criminal typologies, but to generate them.

     Galton is unique in dedicating his entire 1879 paper to the benefits of using the stereoscope and stereoscopic imaging, because elsewhere the stereoscope garners only ancillary reference. Galton’s impulse to use the medium in physical data, though, did appear in other records from biological anthropology, even into 1921 with M.D. Logan Turner. Turner notes in his study of 1,000 crania of various races of mankind, that ‘a correct interpretation of what is seen in the living head is not always possible when non-stereoscopic pictures are employed” (Turner 1921: 2). However, it is difficult to generalize as to the use of stereoscopic and photographic methods even in physical and biological anthropology.

The Stereoscopic Image in Early Human Data Collection

It is difficult to say how widely the stereoscope was used for visual data collection. However, rapid changes in recording equipment in the late 19th century and early 20th century suggest that the field of anthropology had many difficulties in conforming to standardized instrumentation for comparative data collection. Particularly in the era of armchair anthropology, data from missionaries, colonial officers, amateur explorers and geological surveyors all contributed to anthropological theories and typologies.

In 1883, Sir Edward Burnett Tylor authored the ‘anthropology’ chapter in the 5th edition of Hints to Travelers, published by the Royal Geographical Society. The chapter instructs explorers as to the “tedious minuteness” of observation required to contribute academically to the burgeoning ‘science of man,’ which he contrasts to the superficiality of popular travel books (Tylor 1883: 243). For complexion, generalized description was discouraged in favour of Broca’s scale of colours, as well as using a paint box to record tints of skin, hair, and collecting locks of hair or native skeletons, especially skulls, when objection is not prevalent (Tylor 1883: 224).

Within Tylor’s excerpt alone there is the evidence of five different recording mediums recommended: mathematical measurement, color scale, paint, photography, and illustration, in addition to general observation methods of ‘characteristic features.’ Consistency in data collection for comparative means was not only a question within anthropometric and physical photography, then, but a symptom of many instrumental challenges to the efforts of fulfilling the guise of scientific methods.

Many were turning away from anthropometric data collection in the early 20th century, however stereoscopic use for anthropometry continued at least as late as 1919. Fabio Frasseto advocated the use of stereoscopic photography as part of a broader call for standardization of data collection methods in anthropometry. Frasseto’s plea for further methodological standardization, included nomenclature, positions, instruments, towards ‘morphological and physiological criteria’ (Frasseto 1919: 181).

       Frasseto specifies that graphic reproductions, whether photographs or designs, should be the same to illustrate the same body parts from the same orientation. He encourages that “there should be a wider use than now prevails of radiography, of chromophotography, and of stereoscopic photography: (Frasseto 1919: 181). Frasseto’s paper highlights the diversity of mediums used in constructing anthropological ‘data,’ as well as the inconsistencies in photographic medium and other categorization methods.

       Rev. H.B George, makes casual inclusion of stereoscopic equipment in the photography chapter of the 1878 edition of Hints to Travelers. However by the 1883 edition, there is not even a passing mention of stereoscopic gear. While this might be taken as a decline in stereoscopic popularity, M.V. Portman suggests five different photographic set-ups for use in his 1896 Photography for Anthropologists. The second of  the five photographic outfits is stereoscopic because of the greater amount of detail it affords, which would otherwise be overlooked (Portman 1896: 79).

Practically as well, he notes that half of a stereoscopic view can be used as an ordinary 5×4 plate for magic lantern slide projection or enlargement. Thus, on a binocular negative or glass plate there is the capacity for stereoscopic images or using a ‘half-view’ or singular two-dimensional image from either the left or right view (Portman 1896: 79). Portman also recommends using The London Stereoscopic Company’s No. 2 Binocular Camera as the preferred hand camera for “such purposes as recording the altitudes and movements of savages, and certain ceremonial and other details” (Portman 1896: 84). While large format plate cameras were generally the recommended cameras in 19th and early 20th century photography, there was actually a great diversity of available formats. Stereoscopic cameras uniquely were some of the first to be used for instantaneous and hand held photography to capture movement.

Colonialist Richard Hotto’s Glass Plate Stereo Slides & Pitt Rivers Museum Archive

One of the most common such hand held stereoscopic cameras was the verascope, which is kept alongside over eight hundred images and stereoscopic glass plate negatives of French explorer, Richard Hotto in the Pitt Rivers Museum Archives. Hottot’s collection occupies some of the only stereoscopic evidence from fieldwork, instead of commercial views, within the museum. The bulk of the collection is from Hottot’s three expeditions into Central Africa between 1906 and 1909 (Grover, Morton 2006). Though his last was sponsored by the French government, it was a self-funded expedition, which had trouble gaining wide, academic interest upon return (Grover 2012, research interview).  Some of the collected objects remain in French and British museums; however, the photographic collection seems to have been unpublished. Hottot donated the collection, including extensive field notes and meticulous cataloguing of the journey, to Henry Balfour after moving to Oxford. He later became the President of the Oxford University Anthropological Society (Grover, Morton 2006).

While Portman was predominantly instructing the use of stereoscopic and two-dimensional photography for anthropometric goals; Hottot’s negative collection is extremely diverse. There are extensive photographs of hunting, equipment portage, colonial outposts, the transportation methods, objects, villages, and a small amount of anthropometric studies. What Hottot would have been interested in publishing, if anything, remains unknown. Hottot and Portman, at the least, evidence the presence of binocular cameras and stereoscopic imaging in fieldwork, as well as for anthropometric and physical anthropological scrutiny. Though more diverse archival research would be beneficial from within anthropology, and other discipline such as geographical surveying and colonial history, to better understand the diversity of instrumentation and mediums used in the construction of anthropological knowledge.

Growing away from Scientific Objectivism & Anthropometry

As anthropology started to diversify in the early 20th century, shifting away from strictly physical studies of human form as data collection, the stereoscopic gaze perhaps proved no longer useful to the discipline, no more so than a normal photographic image might. Finally, by addressing the work of E.F. im Thurn, I suggest an incompatibility between the stereoscope’s physical scrutiny and design for viewer participation to the changing subjects of anthropological interest and use of images.

In his 1893 Anthropological Uses of the Camera, Thurn illustrates a different vision for the camera, which didn’t have the physical tunnel vision of anthropometric needs. Thurn criticized anthropometry’s narrow and impractical focus on physiological aspects of human form, noting that if one were interested in solely recording mere bodies, they might as well be dead (Thurn 1893: 184). Thurn points to the lack of spontaneity and life in images of people because of the shortage of photography within candid environments.

Thurn’s rhetoric remained part of larger narratives of social evolutionism, but he continuously questions the ideological underpinning of anthropology as an exact science. He suggests that the camera could be used in recording not only living bodies, but living beings, noting that the camera had been “insufficiently appreciated and utilized” (Thurn 1893: 184).

Thurn fundamentally differs from physical anthropologists of the time, in his opinion of what the subject of anthropological inquiry – and thus photography – should be. Weary that a sole interest in physicality often leads to misrepresentation, he points to the lack of pictorial difference between illustrations of a 1599 Discoverie of Guina with the typical pictures of “savages” which adorn the travellers’ book up to nearly the present century” (Thurn 1893: 185). Thurn marks shifts in anthropological interests away from the physical focus of biological anthropology, towards more contextual and intangible elements of culture and society.
Thurn’s approach to the camera as an accurate record, however, does not largely differ from that of Portman or Tylor. He urges a salvage ethnography endeavor with the aid of the camera, “as the duty of educated travelers in the less known parts of the world to put on permanent record, before it is too late, such of these phases as they may observe” (Thurn 1893: 184). I would suggest that Thurn marked a transition in the approach to photography in anthropology, which sought not only an interest of intangible aspects of society and culture, but a use of the photograph as field note, record, or document, instead of generative data.

While the medium’s use continued throughout many physical sciences, as previously discussed,  its role in anthropology did not seem to proceed far beyond its fall from popular culture around WWI. Unlike stereoscopic photography’s application within biological anthropology, I will conclude in suggesting that the medium no longer added drastic benefit to the work of early 20th century social anthropology, any more so than two-dimensional photography.


_________________________________________ Aesthesis

Berger, John
1972 Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin.

Coote, Jeremy
1994 CH 10: Marvels of Everyday Vision: The Anthropology of Aesthetics & the Cattle-Keeping Nilotes In Anthropology, Art, and Aesthetics. (Ed) Jeremy Coote & Anthrony Shelton. Pp. 245-273. Oxford University Press.

Crary, Jonathan
Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century. MIT Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts. London: England

Crary, Jonathan
1994 Unbinding Vision.  MIT Press: Vol. 68: pp 21-44.

Marien, Mary Warner
2002 Photography: A Cultural History. Pp. 50-83

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice
1964 Eye and Mind In The Primacy of Perception (ed) James M. Edie, trans. Carleton Dallery, Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Grootenboer, Hanneke
2005 Introduction in The Rhetoric of Perspective. University of Chicago Press.

Thomas, N & Pinney, C
2001 Introduction in Beyond Aesthetics. pp. 1-12. Berg: Oxford, UK.

Weiner, James
2001 Ch.1  Romanticism, from Goi Site Poetry to Schubert’s Winterreise in Beyond Aesthetics. (eds.) Thomas, N & Pinney, C. pp. 13-30. Berg: Oxford, UK.

_________________________________________ Stereoscopic 

Brewster, Sir David
1856 Stereoscope: It’s History, Theory, & Construction. With it’s application to the fine and useful arts and to education. London: John Murray Albermarle Street.

Carpenter, William Benjamin
1862 On Binocular Vision & The Stereoscope: A Lecture Delivered at the London Institute March 19, 1862. Extracated from The British Journal of Photography , pp1-17 & appendix. April 1 1862. Henry Greenwood: Liverpool.

Holmes, Oliver Wendell
1864 Ch. 3 The Stereoscope and the Stereograph. In Soundings from the Atlantic. Pp. 124-165. Boston: Ticknor and Fields.

Carpenter, William Benjamin
1872 Unconscious action of the brain and Epidemic delusions. (Two lectures delivered in Manchester Dec. 1 and 8, 1871. Pp. 191-200. Boston: Estes & Lauriat.

Davies, Coleman & Co., Ltd~
1919 Annihilating Distance: The Binocular Habit: By One Who has Acquired It. Pamphlet pp.3-10. Pelican Press: Davies, Coleman & Co., Ltd., 40 & 42 Holbourn Viaduct Manufacturers of Dacol Binoculars.

Dalzell, Moir John  (Linssen E.F. 2nd Edition)
1936 (1953) Practical Stereoscopic Photography. The Technical Press LTD: London.(From France)

Drouin, Felix
1895 The Stereoscope and Stereoscopic Photography. Translation: Mathew Surface.  Percy Lund & Co. The Country Press : Brandford, London.

Elison D.J., DD
1912 Preface; Why We Should See Italy In Italy through the Stereoscope: Journeys In & About Italian Cities. Conducted by D.J. Ellison, Edited by Japes C. Egbert. Pp. 11-18. Underwood & Underwood: New York, London. Copyright: 1903, 1908, 1912

English, Herbert William (Pamphlet)
1951 Stereoscopic representations of Three Dimensional Scenes. Gazette Press: Brentwood.

Hall, Arthur
1856 Prize essay on the stereoscope 1856 | London : London Stereoscopic Company : Arthur Hall, Virtue, and co. | 69, [4] leaves, 11, [1] p. : ill. ; 18 cm. | book |

Judge, Arthur William
1950 Stereoscopic photography, its application to science, industry and education. Chapman & Hall Ltd. London. 3rd Edition Revised

Loughs, James E
1904 Introduction In Why Man Has Used Pictures & A Comparison Between the Telephone and the Stereoscope: Two Articles Bearing Particularly On the Nature and Utility of Stereoscopic Photographs (Osborne, Albert). Underwood & Underwood: New York; London.

Osborne, Albert E.
1912 Remarkable Results from Stereographs.Italy In Italy through the Stereoscope: Journeys In & About Italian Cities. Conducted by D.J. Ellison, Edited by Japes C. Egbert. Pp. 571- 589. Underwood & Underwood: New York, London. Copyright: 1903, 1908, 1912

Pulfrich, Carl
1899 On the stereoscopic binocular range-finder manufactured by the firm of Carl Zeiss, Jena a lecture delivered in Munich on the 19th September, 1899 at a meeting of the Society for Natural Research . Printed by Bernhard Vopelius | 16 p. book

Symons, Kenneth Claude Michael
1957 Stereo photography : the technique of the third dimension: The Manual of Phototechnique. Focal Press.

Towne, Joseph
1865 The Stereoscope and stereoscopic Results. book

The London Stereoscopic Company
“Prisma” Binoculars: The Ideal Glasses for Military and Naval Officers and Explorers. Mini Pamphlet.

Underwood & Underwood Press
1905 The Underwood Travel System: What is it? Pamphlet. Underwood & Underwood Publishers: 3 Heddon Street, Regent Street, London. (In 35 Pamphlets &c. On Optical Instruments 1840-1911: Radcliffe Science Library)

Underwood Travel System
1911 Travel Within Reach of All. Pamphlet. Underwood & Underwood. New York &c.

 _________________________________________ Anthropology & Photography

Boas, Franz
1904  The History of Anthropology. Science. New Series Vol 20: 52. Oct. 21,1904. Pp. 513-524.

Donkin, W.F.
1883 Ch. VI. Photography. In Hints to Travellers. 5th Edition: Revised and Enlarged. (Ed. Godwin-Austen, Laughton, Freshfield). Royal Geographical Society: London. Pp. 244-251.

1919 A Uniform of Blank Measurements to be Used in Recruiting. A Plea for the Standardization of Anthropological Methods. American Anthropologist New Series Vol. 21: 2. Pp. 175-181.

Galton, Francis
1879 Composite Portraits, Made by Combining Those of Many Different Persons Into a Single Resultant Figure. The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 8: pp. 132-144. (RAI)

George, Rev. H.B
1878 Ch. Photography. In Hints to Travellers. 4th Edition. (Ed. Francis Galton). Royal Geographical Society: London. Pp. 47-53.

Pinney, Christopher
1990 The Quick and the Dead: Images, Time and Truth. Society For Visual Anthropology Review.  Vol 6: Issue 2. Pp. 42-54.

Pinney, Christopher
2003 “Notes from the Surface of the Image: Photography, Postcolonialism, and Vernacular Modernism” In Photography’s Other Histories. (Ed. Pinney, Peterson) pp. 202-220. Duke University Press: Durham and London.

Portman, M.V.
1896 Photography for Anthropologists. The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain & Ireland Vol. 25. Pp. 85-97.

Turner, Logan Dr.
1921 President’s Address: The Structural Type of the  Mastoid Process, based upon the Skiagraphic Examination of 1,000 Crania of Various Races of Mankind. October 21, 1921. Pp. 1-3

Sapir, David J.
1994 On Fixing Ethnographic Shadows: Review of Anthropology & Photography 1860-1920 (E. Edwards); Ethnographie et photographie (E. Garrigues); Photography, a Middle-Brow Art (P. Bourdieu); Luc Boltahski; Robert Castel; Jean-Claude Chamboredon; Dominique Schnapper; Shaun Whiteside; W. Euguene Smith and the Photographic Essay by Glenn. G. Willumson. American Ethnologist. Vol 21: No. 4. Pp. 867-885.

Tylor, E.B.
1883 CH. V Anthropology. In Hints to Travellers. 5th Edition: Revised and Enlarged. (Ed. Godwin-Austen, Laughton, Freshfield). Royal Geographical Society: London. Pp. 222-243.

Thurn, im E.F.
1893 Anthropological Uses of the Camera. The Jounral of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. Vol 22. Pp. 184-203.

_______________________________ Contemporary Stereoscopic/Photo Writings

Bak, Meredith
2012 Democracy and Discipline: Object Lessons and the Stereoscope in American Education 1870 920. Early Popular Visual Culture Vol 10: 2. Pp. 147-167.

Hoelscher, Steven
1998 Photographic Construction of Touristic Space in Victorian America.  Geographical Review Vol. 88 No. 4 J.B. Jackon and Geography. Pp 548-570.

Johnstone, Tom
1995 Magic 3D: Discover the Revolutionary World of Photographic Free Viewing. Stanley Paul: London.

Krauss, Rosalind
1982 Photography’s Discursive Spaces: Landscape/View. Art Journal Vol 42: No. 4, The Crisis in the Discipline. Pp. 311-319.

Mitchell, JWT
1996 What do Pictures Really Want? October, Vol. 77. (Summer, 1996), pp. 71-82.Muriuki, Godfrey;

Sobania, Neal
2007 The Truth Be Told: Stereoscopic Photographs, Interviews and Oral Tradition from Mount Kenya. Journal of Eastern African Studies. 1:1. Pp.. 1-15.

Schiavo, Laura Burd
2003 Ch 5. From Phantom Image to Perfect Vision: Physiological Optics, Commercial Photography, and the Popularization of the Stereoscope. In New Media, 1740-1915 (Ed.) Gitelman, Lisa; Pingree, Geoffrey. Pp113- 137.

Silverman, Robert J.
1993 The Stereoscope & Photographic Depiction in the 19th Century. Technology and Culture. Vol. 34:4. Special Issue: Biomedical Behavioral. John Hopkins University Press.

Stakelon, Pauline
2010 Travel Through the Stereoscope. Media History, 16:4. Pp. 407-422.

Strain, Ellen
1996/1997 Stereoscopic Visions: Touring the Panama Canal. Visual Anthropology Review : Vol 12: 2 Fall/Winter. Pp. 44-58.