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Unknown Photographer

An advanced Red Army mortar patrol in action amid snow-covered slopes of the Northern Caucasus, March 1943
Vintage wire photograph on paper

Creation Place: Asia
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Restricted Gift of Michael Mattis, Judy Hochberg, and Daniel Mattis, in honor of Kathleen Stewart Howe
Accession Number: P2019.21.946

As an advanced Red Army mortar patrol goes into action amid the rocky, snow covered slopes of the Northern Caucasus, their observer crouches low on the mountaintop to watch and report the effect of their firing. Latest reports from Soviet forces say they have lost the military base and rail center at Belgorod, 50 miles northeast of Kharkov, to attacking Nazis. The claim was made by Berlin radio today, March 1943.

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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