We don’t only take pictures, we make them.

Silent Images
The Silent Images (John Isaac)


// Isaac returned to his office at the UN headquarter in New York where he was summarily reprimanded for bringing back a story instead of pictures. That his job was to take photographs, to tell a story with images, was made very explicitly clear to him. “I never take any picture that would take away the dignity of my subject. There are many ways to portray human misery without exploiting anyone.” “My mother always told me that I am a human being first, and whatever I am doing, second.”//

Severely uninspired and monotonous in my thoughts recently until I came across this at work today, and it re-ignited my previous (research) interests on visual anthropology after coming in contact with Strassler’s Refracted Visions (2010). The practice of visual documenting, when consciously honed into an art, has moral implications. It epitomised an ideal, often urging for an imagination and desire for experiential and aesthetical perfection (even in an undesirable situation). A photograph can create a reality that does not necessarily exist, and not merely an exercise of labelling our photographed ‘subjects’, but to simultaneously self-identify a distance from. It is within socially (politically) specific semiotic concepts of iconicity and indexicality where the photographer enters the picture as an interpreter and participant. What about the photographs that were never taken, excluded or even destroyed? The reflexive character of photographs provides fertile grounds for emotions; at the same time controls them. These subjects do not have a voice, but they stare back. They stare back only so subtly, as silhouetted figures who serve as picturesque features… This melancholy may very well be derived from hindsight.

Read more, here.


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