Hiroshi Sugimoto, a renowned Japanese photographer, has quoted in his exhibition at the Leeum Samsung Museum that photographs are wonderful tools, for it captures the moment and allows the people to see what doesn't exist anymore, an event that has simply ended. He also suggests that photographs convey messages, that could be manipulated through the angles and what the photograph depicts and does not depict. To illustrate his viewpoint, the following two photographs are presented.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
201200018 Dong Yi Kang / Picture Reaction / Thurs 56
The first photograph is a photograph of an African child herding oxen, taken by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, who hopes to poetry the lives of the Dinka people. The color portrayed in the picture is vivid, and overwhelming. The black, darker shadows of the tall-standing African children let us only imagine their expressions, their emotions. When people hear the word 'Africa', people usually come up with negative images such as helpless starving children, those whom are poverty-stricken and always constantly abused by the terrible customs and the aftermath of the war. African children have been, for decades, due to media and charity organizations such as UNICEF, considered as passive beings who are in need of help. However, in this photograph, the child is a strong being sustaining himself among the mighty oxen. The children step atop the high branches to oversee oxen for the tribe. They are neither passive nor poverty-stricken, they are strong, active beings working for the people and for themselves.
The next photograph depicts the Chinese scholastic aptitude test, "Gaokao". How the desks are aligned is amazing, and even beautiful. There's so many colors that make up the picture as well. The students, all wearing a variety of colors, are seated neatly onto their desks. The picture depicts competition for the Chinese students. of the 1.3 billion people, the Chinese people are trying hard to be successful. I think and feel that South Korean students could sympathize with the photo as well, for the competition in South Korea is similar to that of China. South Korea and China has, after all, placed immense emphasize on studying, and considered studying as one of the few routes to success, and to be rich. Amazingly, the photo is full of life, full of ambition, and the heat of the competition and the passion could be felt from across the screen. Like the various colors of the children, I am certain that these children all have different dreams, different ambitions and aspirations.
These two photos are both colorful pictures of children. We cannot help but make the comparison between the two, because of our underlying knowledge of their environments and our own stereotypes. The first picture depicts children of the wild Africa who are neither poor nor miserable, but those who are able to stand up for themselves. There is also a sense of the nature's beauty integrated to the whole photograph as well. The second picture depicts Chinese children who are, compared to the African children, granted with much more material goods and security. However, despite such material prosperity, these Chinese children still compete fiercely, for their future, dreams, and their families. The two are much distinct, yet have common traits attributed to them.
The quote "the camera never lies" was invented when printed photographs were made available to the public during the 19th century. What the inventors of this quote meant to state was that paintings could be manipulated badly - it could lie and distort the reality - yet the photograph will always depict things the way they are. However, the emotions and the notions being transmitted through these photographs could be powerful, and vary according to the viewer, for a picture is a thousand words and we are the ones to compose those words, attributing intrinsic meaning and values.