Author Archive

Are photographs “real”

February 18, 2009

Following up on our discussion today I thought I’d point the class to the work and musings of the documentary filmmaker Errol Morris.  His blog on the New York Times is a good place to start:

http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com/?scp=2&sq=errol%20morris&st=cse

He is very interested in the question of “are pictures true?” or maybe more accurately, what do pictures tell us.

His first blog post dealt with how we “read” images without captions:

http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/07/10/pictures-are-supposed-to-be-worth-a-thousand-words/

In a series of three posts he tries to unearth the information stored within pictures.  He attempts to determine which of two pictures is “real” and asks what “real” is (the actual question is, which picture was taken first).

http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/09/25/which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg-part-one/

http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/04/which-came-first-part-two/

http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/23/which-came-first-part-three-can-george-lionel-and-marmaduke-help-us-order-the-fenton-photographs/

Morris is more generally concerned with the question of “truth” and the realities of a world in which we are always contending with partial information and mis-information.  There’s a good interview of him by Homi Bhabha on Morris’ website (and there’s lots of other good stuff on the rest of the website, check out the commercials!):

http://www.errolmorris.com/content/lecture/theantipost.html

Enjoy! – Matthew