Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Photographs which Say the Opposite

Michael Totten recommends an essay by Walther Russel Mead, who claims that America very much won the war in Iraq. Personally I think it's still too early to know, but I"m glad such a compelling and cogent argument can be made; it wasn't long ago that anyone who didn't regard the American war in Iraq as total lunacy, was assumed to be a lunatic themselves. Perspective will make the picture look different.

Michael then links to a weird collections of photos from North Korea, by Charlie Crane. Crane was allowed into North Korea to take pictures, but only the pictures his minders permitted. So he turned the tables on them by taking only pictures they'd approve of, and presents them to us confident that we'll see what he saw, not what they saw: even though it's all the same pictures. Genius. One of Michael's readers then suggests another website that does something very similar: it takes official pictures of Kim Jong-Il, adds a very thin layer of ridicule, and suddenly the pictures say the opposite of what their creators intended.

Both websites use our conditioning as citizens in democracies, to turn totalitarian photographs on their head, without tampering with the photos themselves in any way. Fascinating.

No comments: