Monday, December 20, 2010

Photography as evidence

The recurring theme in much of what I am reading about photography concerns the concept of "truth" and the acceptance that there is no such thing as photographic truth. Even in the absence of Photoshop, photographs may be staged and submitted as evidence of activity that has not taken place.  I have done a fair bit of traveling recently, last weekend was a trip home to the UK to visit my family prior to Christmas.  On the return flight I picked up a copy of The Independent and found the following article

Huge amounts of aid money is flowing from the west into Afghanistan and yet the population continue to starve.  Within the article was a short piece that mentioned that a great part of the problem is that aid is being appropriated by warlords and local con men.  A case in point was funding for a tractor repair factory in a part of the country deemed to dangerous for foreign visitors.  The recipient of the aid simply rented a few tractors, a small workshop and hired a few people to look busy.  This was all photographed and the subsequent pictures sent to the Washington agency responsible for the funding.  They were happy that all was going according to plan.  Amazing - even in the age of digital manipulation, such simple subterfuge is believed without question.  Even Daguerre could have pulled this one off.

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