27 April 2016

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

What do photographs tell us?  Are they indisputable records of fact?  Can we rely on them for the truth?  What does truth even mean?

In the age of Photoshop it seems all bets are off.  But decades before computer software allowed any of us with the requisite skills to construct or alter an image, there was monkey business afoot.

In 2007, I stumbled on the first of a fascinating series of inquiries into visual images and the "truth" by Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris in the New York Times.  The focal point -- these two photographs.

Which was taken first?  And why?  Does it matter?  

Morries throws down the gauntlet early on:
"Nothing is so obvious that it’s obvious. When someone says that something is obvious, it seems almost certain that it is anything but obvious – even to them. The use of the word 'obvious' indicates the absence of a logical argument – an attempt to convince the reader by asserting the truth of something by saying it a little louder."

You're going to want to order your copy of brother Jim's chilling tale now!

"It maps the tortures of the human soul in a completely unexpected and shocking way.  Read it!" CE, Illinois

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