Sep 14, 2006


Sept 11th has come and gone, and in its wake several discussions concerning the documentation of that day five years ago have taken place. One of the most interesting is still being debated on Alec Soth’s website about an image taken five years ago, but making big news this week. I’ll skip the recap, and let you read for yourself the two posts, and comments, that Alec has facilitated on the 13th and today.

For my part, I find it a fine example of the role one's bias plays in interpreting an image- the role that we as viewers take in establishing the image's success and failure- for us alone. It’s what we choose to see- what awakens an appreciation for the image that is powerful.

In this image I see people engaged in a true representation of public discourse. It’s the act of absorbing the events and talking about them.Debate, education, and relating one's experience and views-maybe even finding answers- in a place and time where the essence of these actions is being threatened. I see this, five years after the fact, because it's what I want to see.

Personally an image with those same people standing on the wall waving flags with their fists in the air wouldn't raise the same feelings in me, but I can see how, and why, it would in others. It’s not a matter of whether an image fails or succeeds, because what is true for me, may not be true for you- therein lies the rub, and the beauty.

The image is much more powerful for the conversation it provokes, as we see on Alec's blog, than the image itself. Even after reading a response by one of the men in the photo- I fill in the blanks with my own perception, my own ideals. Can I look at an image completely without bias? Can anyone? Doubtful. The danger is in believing that your perception is the only valid one.

listening to kexp.

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