Monday, March 24, 2008

Response to: In, Around, and Afterthoughts-Martha Rosler

If you ask me, I think that Rosler’s article is written much like a documentary photographer would shoot a subject. In an article like this, the words are carefully chosen to frame it a certain way, thus encouraging the readers to be swayed into believing certain things. She sheds light on her perception of the manipulation of the photographer in early documentary photography while manipulating the reader in much the same way. She states that, “Any response to an image is inevitably rooted in social knowledge,” when referring to Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother. I disagree with her comment that “responses may be generated from not having any prior knowledge of certain social issues.” We have to assume that our audience that is viewing our images are well-educated, but Rosler is implying that we are dealing with an audience that has no choice but to believe everything that they see without any consideration to the construction of images.
Images that are constructed by the photographer usually serve to represent some bigger social issue than the singularity of one image. They are meant to raise awareness of certain social aspects that may be otherwise overlooked.
Rosler then goes on to comment on more modern documentary photography stating that Szarkowski makes a poor argument for the value of disengagement from a “social cause” and in favor of a connoisseurship of the tawdry (Rosler, p. 5). The viewer is not expected to define the photographer’s boundaries. They are privileged to witness their experiences and appreciate them for what the photographer appreciates.

It seems to me that the Bowery images serve to represent a changing environment. If it’s change was never documented, then how would future generations get any sense of what came before the present?

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