Exposures examines the transformation processes of visual experiences in connection with the discursive contexts and performative processes in the USA since the mid-nineteenth century. Those two crucial aspects and fascinating correlations are understood as equal components of the modernization processes in the USA during the second half of the nineteenth century. The approach to the visual media, in particular, the still young photography, focuses on the repertoire of visualization strategies, the exploration of perceptual processes, and the standard ideas and historically situated anthropological concepts on which the developed and generated images are based. Thus a set of questions is: To what extent does the medium of the daguerreotype become the stage for social action and symbolic operations? Which theatrical qualities are characteristic of these processes, and to what extent does presentation prove to be a means of communication and constitution of representational practices?
The central point through the course of the arguments in Exposures is that one dominant mode in the visual culture in nineteenth-century America was the tendency to enclose reality in manageable forms, to contain it within a theatrical space, an enclosed exposition, or an immersion into a visual space, such as the space of a panorama, an entertainment palace, or a photographic picture frame. This book contributes substantially to increasing the understanding of the pictorial turn and the cultural history of the United States of the 19th century.