Philosophical Ramblings on the use of Words

I read recently that Alan Sekula died in 2013. For those who don’t know about him: he made his reputation from integrating words with pictures. Around the late 1990s he went so far as to state that in many instances the photograph could be removed because the words would be descriptive enough (he meant in gallery installations).

At the time I was rather dismissive of his theory, but current reflections on words and images tend to support his thesis. We do after all have a vast lexicon of images in our retentive memory and words could and are used to trigger those memories. But then comes the thorny question about whether or not if a picture needs words then can it be an art piece. I don’t know, and really don’t care, but what I am starting to believe is that in the world we live in today, where the meaning of every image is suspect, it is the accompanying words that place the intended meaning of the image into its proper perspective.


I use this image as an example because it could have multiple readings, most of them negative, but in fact the woman is waiting in line to receive free rice, and because the day is warm and the child is bored, he became restless.


It’s a food line where starving villagers are waiting to receive a handful of rice and the child is crying because it is hungry and the crush of surging people makes him afraid.


People were fleeing……


Whatever your reading of the picture, the graphics seem to be about something happening, when in fact the photograph is about waiting when nothing is happening.


Words with pictures, it changes everything.


Walker Evens knew this back in the 1930s, which is why he photographed words on signs.


24mm, f4, 1/250sec,ISO200


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