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Unknown Photographer

The beach at Dunkirk, France, near the end of the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from the disastrous Flanders Pocket, June 13, 1940
Vintage wire photograph on paper

Creation Place: Europe
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Restricted Gift of Michael Mattis, Judy Hochberg, and Daniel Mattis, in honor of Kathleen Stewart Howe
Accession Number: P2019.21.144

Illustrated: Associated Press ID # 4006130274.

Scene at Dunkerque--British sources describe this as a view of the beach at Dunkerque [Dunkirk], France near the end of the gigantic job of evacuating the B.E.F. [British Expeditionary Force] from the disastrous Flanders Pocket. Dark objects on the sand are coats left behind by soldiers who waded out to rescue ships, one of which is at the left. Men dug shallow holes in the beach to avoid German air attacks.

Wire photographs were originally transmitted over phonelines, then later, by satellite. They were first used in the early 1920s. Associated Press became a leader with this. After pigment touch-ups, etc., the print is put into a drum (like a drum scanner). The image gets converted into audio tones that are transmitted. The tones are received and beamed onto photo-sensitive paper. Wire photographs are copies without originals---they are hybrid, transmitted objects. (Britt Salvesen, Curator and Department Head, Photography Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 30-31, 2022)

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