Have proliferated in the field at the end of the century. It might be considered a port of entry to the world of
twentieth-century photography and photography scholarship.
When this project was conceived, the twentieth century was in its final decade, yet it was not then clear
that the arbitrary demarcation of the century as regards photography would be an actual marker as well.
The astonishingly rapid rise of digital technologies during the 1990s distinguishes the shape of the medium in
the twentieth century in a real way, just as the introduction in 1898 of the mass-use Brownie camera and all
its attendant technologies forever wrenched the medium from its nineteenth-century essence as the domain
of the dedicated enthusiast, whether professional or amateur. The democratization of the medium certainly
seemed to be the main story being told at mid-century, and it may indeed, at further remove, be the
overarching feature of the twentieth century.
For ironically the digital revolution offers at the same time
more and less access—more if one has electricity, a digital camera, and a computer, less if one does not, and
many, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, certainly do not. Yet whatever the digital revolution may
hold, it seems clear that the obsolescence of the standard photo-chemical processes and the widespread
access to the medium they undoubtedly provided will define photography in the new century. Already, in
2005, photo-chemical films and papers have been discontinued or are no longer distributed in the United
States; traditional processing labs are vanishing, and items that stocked the traditional darkroom are
becoming collectibles, if not landfill.