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Figures of Chance and Contingency in Albert Kahn's Planetary Project

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Marion Picker
Marion Picker

Abstract


The Archives de la Planète is a collection of visual material – about 100 hours of film, 72000 autochromes and 4000 stereoscopic images – established between 1908 androughly 1932. While the project was of Kahn’s inspiration (and also financed by him),the human geographer Jean Brunhes served as its scientific director. Its purpose was to document the diversity, but even more so, the underlying unity of human life and activity all over the globe. It seems thus fitting that Brunhes used a cartographic logicin mapping the “positive facts” of his science, relying on visual documentation. Thisarticle examines some of the temporal complexities and contingencies of representation inherent in the autochrome part of the collections. As archives within the archive, they upset the cartographic logic of the project.


Keywords


Albert Kahn; Jean Brunhes; Archives de la Planète; temporality of photography; autochromes; spatial metaphors; human geography; contingency

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