Friday, September 12, 2008

American Photography

When watching American Photography, what really stuck out for me were the photographs that documented various life events from all over the world and the photographers who were there to witness those moments.  When it comes to the documentation of history - war, civil rights movements or any other event, really, the photograph has always been the closest thing we have had to actually being in a moment that only occurred at one exact place at only one particular point in time. We can re-create (or even capture in the present,) these events with video, theater, or interpretive dance, song, or whatever medium we want, but the only thing capable of showing you an image of a particular event right when it took place – an image of that event happening – is the photographic image. It’s truly amazing if you think about it. Sure we can capture these moments on video, but video doesn’t leave much to the imagination and you can’t take a video with you wherever you want and look at it when you want or hold it in your hand while you look at it, feel it, smell it…it won’t stay etched in your mind for decades to come like a photograph will.  

John Filo's photo from the Kent State shooting is an example of one of these photos.  It is tragic, yet it provokes the imagination, tells a story, and elicits a strong emotional response from the viewer.  Having never experienced what I can only imagine to be such a traumatic event as that, I empathize with the woman in this image.  It is hard to even think of being involved in such a tragedy, let alone think of how something like this could get so out of hand that people are murdered.  It is images like this one that we will probably never forget and that will be a constant reminder of a horrific event.

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