Sunday, 28 October 2012

towards a critical 'history' of photography and its uses.

The art of the past no longer exists as it once did. It's authority is lost. In its place there is a language of images. What matters now is who uses that language for what purpose." ~ John Berger

The image supplies little in itself. What counts is its use and the power to fix a particular interpretation of the events, objects or people depicted. Some people, and especially some institutions, have much more clout in this process than others do." ~ Steve Edwards

Getting way from a "history" of photography that is based on a traditional idea of  the History of Art    ( as a sequence of styles and artists)  is increasingly becoming a must for photography.  I see and read photo graphy as a 'writing with light' and not as a 'drawing with light  .It is, for me, a language  that has much more power than any language ever had. Its veracity, its roots in Reality, just invite uses as pure propaganda. 

 It is  the way Photography is used/misused that needs to be the focus of our understanding of the History of Photography. 

Its increasing  misuse in the increasing number of  wars  around the world is something that I have been noticing a lot more.  From big Mainstream media, like the British propaganda arm - the BBC, to small newspapers in the Middle East,  the misuse of pictures shot somewhere else  has become much more frequent and, thanks to the Net,  much more visible. 

Here is the latest in photographic  hasbara-the Israeli form of propaganda. 

The Israeli military’s decision to use foreign photos to illustrate attacks in the West Bank as part of its propaganda efforts (without indicating that the image is only an illustration) may raise some interesting questions about its own ethical perception and standards.
This is not the first time the army has faced this particular criticism. In June, the army marked gay pride month by posting a photograph of two male Israeli soldiers holding hands. It waslater revealed that the two soldiers are not a couple and only one of them is gay.
The use of a photo unrelated to the incident it purports to be illustrating was also more striking given the recent Israeli reaction to another alleged misuse of photographs.
Last March, Israeli military and political figures demanded the United Nation’s OCHA office in Jerusalem fire a staff member after she tweeted a photograph of a fatally wounded girl, whom she indicated had just been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza.
Pro-Israel activists and government officials maintained that the photograph had been published by Reuters in 2006 and a veritable campaign was launched besmirching the OCHA employee. Beyond the hypocrisy inherent in doing something that you had only just condemned others for doing, we should remember a key distinction between the two incidents: While the OCHA employee published the concerned photograph on her private Twitter account, as a private citizen, the Israel Defense Force is an official body and its Facebook page is an official government channel.


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