Worth a Look: “A Theme With Variations”

Joerg Colberg has a very interesting and probing post titled “A Theme With Variations”. It deals with, possibly, the changing nature of both war and fine-art photography, and/or their intersections. Well worth a read and the thought.

The post stems from a series of three photographs (posted by 2point8), starting with Nick Ut’s famous image from the Vietnam War following a napalm attack. Then there are two variations, one removing the Vietnamese victims and the other removing all of the humans from the image. Colberg has some interesting theories about how this parallels changes in photography itself. And points to a thought-provoking quote from Susie Linfield (posted on Colin Pantall’s blog): “…I don’t urge naïve acceptance or cynical rejection of photos of political violence; the book makes a plea for us to use photographs of atrocity as starting-points to engage with very complicated histories and very specific political crises.”

Read the post and be sure to check out the entire series “Fatescapes” by Pavel Smejkal on the Critical Mass 2010 website. (also of note: A Photo Student just wrote about another series by Smejkal which is very odd: photoshopped faces of celebrities on photos from the Holocaust)

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