The Radically Subversive Narrative of Stereoscopic Photography

  • Douglas Klahr (Autor/in)


Stereoscopic photography, often dismissed by scholars as a nineteenth-century curiosity, offers a distinctive set of boundaries regarding narration of an image, for the viewing process radically differs from those of non-stereoscopic photography and cinema. The narrative begins with the kinesthetic demands of a handheld stereoscope, a temporary prosthesis that challenges the monocular norm of pictorial depiction by restoring the binocularity of normal human vision. Narration thus becomes profoundly corporeal, involving hands, face and eyes, with the viewer required to merge two slightly different images into one, an ocular exercise that four out of ten people find difficult to master. The intense haptic sensation of depth this produces is never static, for the eye moves from one plane to another, constantly changing the narrative. A stereoscopic view therefore is not depicted, but rather synthesized. Its ephemeral quintessence makes it truly an outlier medium, blurring the boundaries between non-stereoscopic photography and cinema, as does its narration.