The Weekly Stripe – 11.05.18

As consumers of images we approach ‘non-fiction’ visual media differently from fictional works. This weekly Stripe covers the topic of constructiveness in the field of visual representation, and its inevitability. Events are produced through a process in which subjects, image makers, technologies of visualization and media networks have a role in the representation of people and places. Ultimately all ‘non – fiction’ is staged, although staging does not  imply faking, but rather describe all the choices that the image maker needs to make to show a meaningful event to a public. 

Nanook of the North by Robert Flaherty (1922)  Nanook and his family were real, but the film is not a objective recording of their daily life: they diligently enacted part of it for Flaherty’s cameras. But they acted in such a honest and instinctive way that without any doubt they built an “authenticity” of a kind. As a result, Flaherty’s work blurred the distinction between fiction and documentary.

Jean Rouch’s “cinema veriteWhile Flaherty organized his participants into an ethnographic story, Rouch encourages all participants to invent their own ideas for the film and use the filmmaker as a tool for whatever they wish. He called the result “ethno-fiction“, as it blurred the boundaries between filmmaker and subjects.  His most famous movies are “Chronicles of a summer” (1961) shot in Paris and “The Mad Masters” (1956).

Ruben Salvadori  is a young reportage photographer who works in in Jerusalem East conflict zones.  This “auto-critical photo essay”, is  a reflection over the praxis of the photo reportage.  Here the focus is not on the Palestinians blocking the streets, but rather on the mass of photographers attempting to get the best shot of them.  What we observe here, is that image makers need to frame an image in a way  that resontes with the “conflict imaginary” of the media to make it to the headlines.

 Today the digital manipulation of photo -journalistic images can completely transform the reality of the scene as the photographer witnessed it. The possibility of digital manipulation are endless, thus do we need to establish an ethical boundary or not? This New York Times article present multiple points of view on the matter, including the voice of the practitioners themselves.

“The Photographer” by Emmanuel Guibert tells the story of a small mission of Medecins Sans Frontieres into northern Afghanistan by horse and donkey train in 1986, at the height of the Soviet occupation. The book use hundreds of the original photos taken by Guibert, which shows the physical and spiritual wound of the Afghan civilians. This is not a photo reportage but also a graphic novel since comic book panels contextualize the photoshots into a linear narrative.