August 27, 2014

Readjusting our Eyes After the Bloody Summer We've Had

Yesterday, we talked about how photos don’t ordinarily make sounds. Today, as we stagger toward the merciful end of this cataclysmic summer and this horrific August, what’s instructive is context, or how much the eye sees what its been conditioned to see. What’s illuminating about this photo, given it’s from one of those stock and go lucky events that embellishes the news wire the exact same time each year,  is how much it operates, instead, as a foil and a reflection (like this) on the stretch we’ve had. Specifically, it challenges us to try and recall what life, and the newswire, looked like just a month or so back.

That was before all the bodies in Ukraine fall out of the sky; before Gaza was transformed into concrete dust and blood; before Missouri police cut down a black youth and left him lying in the street for hours; before the Islamic State released a video purporting to decapitate a Western journalist; before Hamas induced a Western photo agency to document a public execution. Yes, what the eye wants to see is what it’s gotten used to seeing. And after the late summer we’ve had, even recognizing the context and confirming it with a scan of the caption, I had to still whisper to myself: “tomato fight.”

Via the Charlotte Observer Daily Edit.

(photo: Alberto Saiz/AP. caption: People throw tomatoes at each other, during the annual “tomatina” tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol, 50 kilometers outside Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. The streets of an eastern Spanish town are awash with red pulp as thousands of people pelt each other with tomatoes in the annual “Tomatina” battle that has become a major tourist attraction. At the annual fiesta in Bunol on Wednesday, trucks dumped 125 tons of ripe tomatoes for some 22,000 participants, many from abroad to throw during the hour-long morning festivities.)

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Michael Shaw
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