Linton- Life in the Collections
65) The Mass Image: A Social History of Photomechanical Reproduction in Victorian London.
Houndsmills / New York 2008
The author of this substantial study on the hybrid and ambiguous imagery of the illustrated papers in the final decade of the 19th century combines, as a writer, curator, and designer, hands-on experience in the print media in an almost unique way with an elaborate kind of historical research and a trained analytical mind. He demonstrates that photomechanical reproduction, rather than bringing a neutrality and clarity to the printed image, produced a nervous polyphony of mixed and fragmented, assembled and retouched images.
The third chapter of Gerry Beegan’s history of reproduction graphics is devoted to the structural changes from a linear to a tonal code, which the medium of wood engraving underwent during the phase of its mechanisation. Beegan argues, that “the increasingly detailed network of lines in the engravings of this period has less to do with the communication of greater amounts of information (...) and more to do with the changing structure of the wood engraving industry and its response to photographic techniques and images.” His main references in terms of the industrialisation of this craft are the theories of John Ruskin and Linton’s polemics against the New School.