chapter  2
Photographs and history: emotion and materiality
ByELIZ ABETH EDWARDS
Pages 18

What do photographs ‘feel’ like? Despite over three decades of critical theory around the nature of the photograph and similar movement in critical museology, there has been surprisingly little overlap between the two to challenge the status and function of photographs in museums. For despite the theoretical demolition of the photograph’s reality eect, this position has largely failed to register in museum consciousness, never mind practices, where photographs continue to be seen as unproblematic documents, direct fragments of past time, records of what was. Yet photographs constitute one of the most emotionally intense classes of museum objects: they are not imprinted representation in abstract, but imprinted objects that are both representational and material. ey are ‘made, used, kept, stored for specic reasons which do not necessarily coincide … they can be transported, relocated, dispersed, damaged, torn, cropped … because viewing implies one or several physical interactions’ (Porto 2001: 38). at is, they are multisensory objects which in turn must elicited multi-sensory responses that shape and enhance the emotional engagement with the visual trace of the past. My purpose in this chapter therefore is to consider the implications of a multi-sensory and emotionally negotiated photographic meaning for museums.