ISSN: 20403682
First published in 2010
2 issues per volume
Volume 7 Issue 1-2
Cover Date: October 2016
Akeley inside the elephant: Trajectory of a taxidermic image
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Authors:  Bernd Behr 
DOI: 10.1386/pop.7.1-2.43_1

sprayed concrete,taxidermy,Carl Akeley,cinematography,Paul Strand,James Tiptree Jr,realism,robotics

As a process distinct from its poured cousin, sprayed concrete involves using compressed air to propel cement with various chemical admixtures at a surface. Used in tunnelling for rock surface stabilization, and above ground for securing slopes and fabricating fake rockeries, its chimeric character ranges from the polished landscapes of skateparks and swimming pools to mimicking cast concrete in structural repair work. The origins of this industrial process lie with taxidermist Carl E. Akeley (1864–1926), who invented it during his pioneering work in the proto-photographic field of natural habitat dioramas at the Chicago Field Museum in 1907. Further cementing André Bazin’s notion of photography as embalmment, Akeley also invented a unique 35mm cine camera during his time at the American Museum of Natural History, New York. The essay explores this historical intersection between photography, taxidermy and architecture, and its wider implications for thinking through photography’s material contingency.
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