After a number of stilted starts, the history of photography begins in about 1826 with the collaborative efforts of Joseph Niépce and Louis Dauerre, first from Niépce’s initial experiments with light sensitive compounds, and later with Daguerre’s discoveries of permanently fixing latent images on polished silver plates, known as daguerreotypes. Daguerre’s process patent was quickly purchased by the French government and made part of the public domain shortly thereafter. The rapid success of daguerreotypes continued until the invention of the glass plate negative in 1840. Though the new glass plate process had a number of advantages over the daguerreotype, not least of which was the absence of the potentially harmful or even fatal mercury bath stage, daguerreotypes remained exceeding beautiful and hauntingly alive.
One of Daguerre’s earliest images was in fact the first astronomical photograph ever made, a picture of the moon. Due to tracking errors on the telescope during the lengthy exposure time, the image turned out to be more of a fuzzy spot. Regardless, what must have been a fascinating result was later destroyed in a fire and lost forever. It is interesting to note that astronomical daguerreotype photographs continued to be made for some time after most photographers had abandoned the process.
La Lune Perdue recreates Daguerre’s photograph of the moon through a combination of antique processes and updated technologies to produce a large and detailed daguerreotype image of the moon.