‘Evidence’ Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan

Furthering my knowledge with people who photograph in an evidential way I looked at ‘Evidence’ by Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel. ‘Evidence’ is a rather straightforward book. David Levi Strauss sums it up in his description in The Books of 101 Books. “The concept for this book is clear-select photographs intended to be used as objective evidence and show that it is never that simple…” Mandel and Sultan combed through the photographic archives and repositories of over 100 corporations and government, educational, and medical institutions. Presented as formal objects, these evidential images are transformed into art photographs, calling into question all sorts of basic assumptions about the nature of truth and objectivity.

‘Evidence’ by Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan

Looking through the images, which are in no way related to each other, makes the whole reading of the book extremely ambiguous and random, contradicting the title, ‘Evidence’ immensely. It highlights how even if something is presented as evidence may not be, but we have been tricked into thinking it is, purely because of the straightforward aesthetics created in the images. With this idea in mind I could easily manipulate my viewers by giving fictional back stories to the objects and documents I’ve found. However, I don’t want to. All the stories and captions I give in my final pieces will be factual, to the best of my knowledge. Of course, my father’s walk is not entirely factual. It was over two years ago the walk originally took place and so streets may have changed, I don’t know if he passed many people, I don’t know what he did inside the flat of the drug dealers etc. Nonetheless, I will create as a true to life reconstruction of the walk as possible. I have also had to imagine how my father would have been feeling and thinking, taking into consideration the drugs that were in his system and his mental disorders which has influenced my editing choices.

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