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Thers a snake in my boot!

IN his essay “Albums on War: Photographs of the Civil War”, Alan Trachtenberg argues the strengths and shortcomings of photography of the civil war.  Trachtenberg claims that because the civil war took place in front of the lens of a camera it is easy to study via photography.  This photography ” does not exaggerate” and offers a “physical presence ..[and] a palpable, cultural, reality”.    Photographs at this time cannot be argued with.  The showed what was their; nothing else, nothing more.  The interpretations, understandings, and motives projected by these photographs however, can cause a far greater problems than say Whitman’s interpretations of the war, and obfuscate the truth just as much.

One of the points I think was most important in Trachtenberg’s essay was that of the detachment of the photograph has from reality.  Along with this is the photograph’s inability to really portray importance; it could also never give an answer to the question “why?”.  It could never even ask why.  Something very present in human writing (Whitman for example)  Trachtenberg discusses the categorization of Brady’s pictures in exhibition.  They were categorized and ordered sequentially, one after another- rows and columns, depending on time and place.  This he says, after, describing a picture of a man killed at Antetiem  “empowers the image”’ not as a picture but as a datum”.  A man’s life was reduced, in the minds of the observers, to that of a stage of life of a fruit fly seen in slide 3.  It is a piece of data voiding it of all emotional reality.

The picture can never, explain the reality of the times, the ambiance, the truth; it is unable to. I’ll take a text every time.

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~ by S.E. Herran on May 28, 2011.

2 Responses to “Thers a snake in my boot!”

  1. 4/4

  2. Great post. I am going through a few of these issues as well.. Onno Vocks http://www.corporationwiki.com/Florida/Lehigh-Acres/onno-vocks/66292348.aspx

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