Digital Synergies Speaker Series - 27 Jan 2021 at 1:00pm

Beyond the Finish Line: Images, Evidence, and the History of the Photo-Finish with Dr. Jonathan Finn

07 January 2021

In the 1880s, photographers and sports enthusiasts confidently declared the end of dead heats in sporting competition. Reflecting a broader social belief in technology, proponents of the camera stressed that the device could provide definitive proof of who won and who lost. Yet despite this remedy for the inadequate human eye, competitive races between horses, boats, and bicycles ended too close to call a sole champion. More than a century later, when cameras can subdivide the second into ten-thousandths and beyond, athletes continue to cross the finish line in ties.

In this discussion, Jonathan Finn shows how innovation was animated by a drive for ever more precise tools and a quest for perfect measurement. As he traces the technological developments inspired by this crusade--from the evolution of the still camera to movie cameras, ultimately leading to complex contemporary photo-finish systems--Finn discusses the social implications of adopting and contesting the photograph as evidence in sport.

Jonathan Finn is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. His new book, "Beyond the Finish Line: Images, Evidence, and the History of the Photo-Finish" is available from McGill-Queens University Press.

Attendance is free for this event on 27 Jan 2021. Registration for this event is required.

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