In November, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center and the Getty Conservation Institute jointly hosted an international symposium, "At First Light: Niépce and the Dawn of Photography," focusing on the world's first photograph, "View from the Window at le Gras," the work of its creator, Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, and the beginnings of photography.
During November 20-23, 2003, scores of international photography historians, conservators, and curators crowded the Prothro Theater at the Center to explore recent advancements in scientific, art historical, and conservation research relating to the famed first photograph and the beginnings of photography. During the symposium, results of extensive testing undertaken in 2003 on the world's first photograph were released, and a new image of Niépce's masterwork that more accurately reflects the original was unveiled. Participants were also treated to a real-time internet broadcast from the actual window of Niépce's home in France -- the same window from which the first photograph was made. A publication of symposium proceedings is expected to be available in the near future.
Curator of Photography Roy Flukinger reflects on the symposium: "In bringing together an international group of experts in the history, art, and science of photography, we wished to provide resonance to the major issues that this cornerstone of photography continues to raise. The "At First Light" symposium was a success not only for the answers and perspectives it provided but also for the new issues and questions its participants were able to engender."