Information and materials
In 1898 Alfred Cort Haddon led the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Strait islands which lie between the Northern tip of Australia and Papua. He purchased a cinematograph – a recent innovation to record the customs and practices of the islanders but was disappointed as it didn’t arrive until two days before the team were due to leave. The first film he took was of three of his friends from the island of Mer-Pasi, Sergeant and Mana – making fire in the traditional way – but the 75 foot length of film ran out before the first spark. Haddon was convinced these cinematic efforts had been complete failures…until he returned to England and was sent the dark veil of this black strip of 35mm negative. Haddon had, indeed, shot the very first ethnographic films.