We listened to a discussion between Fred Ritchin and Jonathon Worth. Linking to Ritchin’s book, ‘Bending the Frame’ the discussion focuses on changes within photography: the believability and reliability of images and how as both consumers and image-makers we need to rethink and reinvent the way we capture, describe and perceive the world.
There’s a skeptic of photography being a reflection/document of reality. Once you frame something there raises complexities and Photoshop has conquered the world. Editors and advertisers once only used manipulation but now everyone has this power. Everyone can capture the world in there own image. As a result photographs have lost their credibility. Everything becomes opinion based and so one must be as neutral as possible to ensure you’re being fair and honest to the consumer and subject.
Ritchin became interested in publishing and words. But pictures were more interesting. There was a safety because the ‘word people’ the publishers, editors, journalists and writers wouldn’t know how to read pictures. If they were given words the editors would makes them conform to pre-existing ideas, altering and changing it so much so it barely reflected the original piece. However, as a picture editor you have the chance to fight for the use of the right picture and sometimes you’d win.
Telex Iran. Subversion was the language of this photography because it described the event in an entirely different way. The series is madly consuming because of its neutrality and simplicity. The photographer seems to be so passive, so invisible he posed no threat to the people or the situation, allowing him to document what was going on everywhere. There’s no clear narrative. No clear or evident relationship between subject and photographer, just images of a moment in time. It’s like he was simply collecting evidence of the place and the monumental part of history. The images are political, matter of fact and literally documents of everything and everywhere. That sense of chaos and no sense of fluidity or narrative, reflects the photographers passiveness and confusion of the event.
Photography could be subversive which was a powerful tool. Ritchin is interested in the future of people. Photography is useful in helping change the world for the better. ‘Past to Peace’ New York Times 1994-95. The war on Bosnia-the Internet was new, why don’t we give the Internet something new, he thought, by showing peace over conflict. Given 6-7 weeks to create a non-linear narrative. Photographer was central. The web changed the way in which the viewer could read and interact with photography. It was a different moment. The viewer was given the chance to decide his or her own direction. Before, serious journalism could not exist unless on printed-paper. There’s now a difference between the image and the artefact.
If we stopped thinking that the digital was efficient we’d realise its just another way of capturing the world and that it’s interesting to be pragmatic. For example, instead of photographing the horrors of a war on conflict, photograph the positives to reinforce that these moments are left over’s of hope could become a thing of the past. Photographing beauty rather then the grotesque could be a more pro-active way of preventing bad things from happening or evoking change. Sometimes photographing the horrors of war works for the benefits of those who are fighting, rather then help prevent it from happening.