Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thought Experiment #2 by Errol Morris

"...we we should be sensitive about how photographs are presented. Changes in captions can radically alter how we see a photograph and what it means."

It seems obvious, but it's worth discussing and repeating that photographic images are not truth, they record a moment that then is interpreted by the viewer. I think about this endlessly in my own work because I use brief descriptive text to identify my photos. While I would prefer to have them all untitled, no caption or descriptive title, that's just not realistic for the way I work.


Here a repost of something I wrote before about titling and captioning...

For America I included brief captions and the place where the photo was made under the photo. This meant that I had to change the name of some of photos from my original description. For example, I changed the name of this image from "Mummer in Blackface" to "Mummer in Black Facepaint." This kid clearly had no idea about the implications and history of blackface and not only was it unfair to categorize him as a racist, but I wanted viewers to make their own connection to blackface in this image, and the underlying absence of historical context in this guy's beautiful smiling face. I think there's an air of menace in this photo, but I hope to leave it up to the viewer to feel and see what they want.

wench in blackface black facepaint face paint web
Wench in Blackface

wench in blackface black facepaint face paint web
Wench in Black Facepaint

wench in blackface black facepaint face paint web
Mummer on 2 St.

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