The daguerreotype was called the ‘Mirror with a Memory’ because of its shiny metal surface, and its miraculous ability to capture life itself. One might say that photography is the mirror we hold up to ourselves. In a photograph we see what the camera records – but how faithful is that reflected image? We’ve been discussing in recent classes things that at first seem to have an obvious meaning, but can be misleading.
To what extent should we rely on photographs in order to know what our world — our reality, is? Can you cite examples not shown in class in which a published photograph has one apparent meaning, but in context, has another? Why do we often look at photographs, on Instagram for example, that are posted with minimal context? What does that say about what we know about one another? Did any story related in class today resonate with you? Why?
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All of the following are details of larger images. Left to right, top: Daguerreotype, 1850’s, deceased child; child worker, 1911, Lewis Hine; Migrant Mother, 1936, Dorothea Lange, commissioned by the Farm Security Administration, a US government program; Middle: Fashion photo by Horst, 1950s; Kent State killings, May 1970; Grandfather and grandson in US detention center, 1942, Dorothea Lange; Bottom: Dali by Philippe Halsman, 1951; Thanksgiving dinner pies, 1940, Jack Delano, commissioned by US government; John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Annie Liebowitz ,1980, Rolling Stone Magazine