Thursday, November 15, 2012

still pondering those photos from the crimean war

no. 1

no. 2
i went on a frenzy today and switched around our living room (read: room where we watch television) with our dining room (read: room where we never sat to eat dinner because we were too busy watching television). in the process, i messed up my thumb in a badly-installed door (grr to those people we bought the house from - i'm still bitter towards them) and dropped the extremely heavy and two-meter long unwieldy dining table on my foot (hello giant bruise). but after several hours of swearing, vacuuming and sweating more than i'd like to admit, the result was that we ate our cheese soufflé and simple salad at the actual dining table and then stayed there for and hour and a half, as a family, talking and drawing and laughing. wow, what a difference it made!

during our discussion i showed husband the two roger fenton photos from the crimean war. and interestingly, husband had an entirely new perspective on them, one not mentioned in the errol morris book (which i love even more now after chapter 4 - about the FSA photos taken by walker evans and others during the depression...more about that soon). and one definitely not mentioned by susan sontag in her take on the photos.

husband looked at them as a soldier and an officer. i told him there was controversy over the sequence of the photos. it was known that that were taken on the same day during the same shoot, but that the interpretations of the meaning of them were different depending on which one you thought was taken first.  you also recall that i didn't tell you what morris' conclusion was (i still think you must get the book - via your library, i'm not advocating consumerism (tho' i want to own this book now)).

husband's take is that no. 2 is first, because it represents a "before" shot - tho' after a barrage of shelling by the russians. before in the sense of before the road was cleared for the soldiers to pass with their wagons and horses and continue the war. no. 1 comes after it was cleared.

what do you think?


will said...

Better run that idea by General Sue Sontag (retired). After all, she was the officer in charge of propaganda, media relations and photography wagons and mules.

will said...

The question which cannot be answered is why did Fenton include both photos in exhibitions? Did he want to gauge audience reaction? Did he, or the gallery agents consider the photos as a before and after sequence?

Apparently he felt no ambiguity with showing the photos side by side.

As for which came first, the explanation of rock movement seems valid. Also the number of canon balls being the same in each photo is good evidence that photo No. 2 was posed (a composed photo).