The Photograph Commands Indifference by Nicholas Muellner
This week I picked up a tiny book with a minimal cover and a title that demanded my attention, The Photograph Commands Indifference by Nicholas Muellner.
The Stanley Milgram Experiment
Upon reading its title, I was oddly reminded the Stanley Milgram Experiment. The experiment was created to address the arguments of many people on trial for war-crimes committed during World War II. The defentants claimed they were merely following orders and could not be held responsible for their actions. Stanley Milgram’s volunteers were instructed to repeatedly shock fellow citizens by official looking men in lab coats and a shocking number of them complied.
With this somewhat random but solidly implanted connection in mind, I was curious to see how this little book would argue that photographs instruct us to remain unsympathetic to the suffering of others.
Robert Smithson’s “Momuments of Passaic”
I found that the six and a half by five and a half inch paper-back, published by A-Jump Books in 2009, actually speaks to the relationship between photography, monuments and meaning. Thirteen chapters approaches the subject from a different angle, from reconsiderations of art-historical works, like Robert Smithson’s “Momuments of Passaic”, to the effect of 1960s snapshots of monuments in the former Soviet Union, argue that photographs like monuments are receptacles for meaning. But my experience with this book reinforces the notion that it is as easy to misassign meaning to text as is it to images.Posted 11 months ago with 2 notes