History is Funny

By way of NPR, I just saw a great tumblr site of odd, black and white photographs. The NPR post states about the blog that “there’s not too much to say about it. But it’s funny, so you should check it out”, I think there is something to say about the photographs and that many of them are more than just funny.

While they are all odd and many will make you chuckle, some are also pretty revealing. I found myself looking at the photos ahistorically, with no regard for the specific period in which they were created, but looking with a contemporary eye. I then reconsidered some of them within their historical context and considered for whom the image was made and why.  Some of the images are also important for what they say about photography and how people were experimenting with the medium. Was the image staged? Was it manipulated in post-processing?

Take this image:

How weird! Maybe the photo is from a real-life German version of “A League Of Their Own.”  The photograph made me think of  “Nein, Onkel“, a photo book that shows “Nazis petting bunny rabbits, having parties, dressing up and generally larking around through Europe during the early few years of World War II when things were going well for the Third Reich.” But…the photograph is from Pre-Nazi Party 1916 and depicts one of three Canadian hockey teams called the Swastikas.

I don’t really have a huge point here. Maybe something about always being aware that in this day and age of screen grabs and effortless reproduction and manipulation that it is so so easy for an image to be decontextualized, recontextualized, and any other sort of contextualized you can come up with. Probably, my mind is just full from the many conversations I seem to have had lately about truth in a photograph…Does it exist? Whose truth? What can we trust and how do we come to trust it? The conversations are nothing new, but they are still important to have.

Anyway, it’s always interesting to look at a photograph with various sets of eyes.

See more wacky B&W photos HERE.

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One Response to History is Funny

  1. I applaud Mr. Pomerantz for his ability to keep this blog as a chronicle of his time in the graduate program at SVA. Being in grad school myself at the ICP-Bard program, I know all too well the pressure of staying “on top of it all.” In this particular post, I am most interested in the question of perceived truth in images. We never really know what is going on, do we?

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