Saturday, September 13, 2008

Week 1 Reading: Afterthoughts

Two things from this week's readings that I didn't get to say in class that I thought were worth noting:

1. Sternfeld's photograph, "Warren Avenue," page 24-5. I realized that the more I spent looking at every detail and trying to place what exactly everything was, I realized that the layers of the photograph create a history for the place. First there was a building, that looks like some sort of store front (the way the windows are set up), or gathering place. Then something bad happened around that building (the building got boarded up). Then people created a memorial (flowers, mural). Then people had hope for change (the graffiti words, "Do the Right Thing"). I was very impressed that this linear time existed in the photograph. Suddenly, this place existed beyond just the moment in which the photograph was taken.

2. Pinkhassov, photos from Moment of Silence collection, page 74-84. I'm curious as to how/why the photographs were arranged in the order that they were--I'm assuming that because it's only a select few from the collection that it was the editors of the book who chose the order. I'm curious about it because I think the order was very effective in telling the story that Pinkhassov is attempting to tell. I saw the baseball players and connected with it because I play sports, I watch sports, I understand the photograph. But then I was jolted by the Muslim students in the library, because it's unfamiliar to me--not just personally, but the media and such, it's not how Muslims prayers are depicted when they seldom are. Likewise with the two brothers (?) on page 78. As a result of this jolt, I'm looking into these pictures and trying to get a read on them. I'm no longer passively scanning them. Now what's great about how these photographs were set up is that when I reach the image of the little girl and her parents praying on the bedside, I look at it and am still actively searching and reading it, even though it is a completely familiar image. I think that if that image of the girl and her family was placed after the baseball players, I would have skipped over this collection because I would have thought there was nothing new to be gained. But because of the chosen order, I found myself intrigued and spending a lot of time with the photographs. The context of the content carries equal weight in creating the desired impact.


Thursday said...

I had a similar reaction to the picture of the little girl praying with her parents — because we'd already seen these images that made faith seem so extraordinary, I kept wondering if perhaps this family was more than the run of the mill Christians encountered in the U.S. — I kept thinking, maybe they're more along the lines of 'Jesus Camp' evangelicals.

Samuel said...

I think you've got a great point. The order of the photos made a big difference in the way I read them.