Just Thinking 4: Since we're heading for War...

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Mark in SD, Mar 19, 2003.

  1. Mark in SD

    Mark in SD Member

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    Leaving out the politics involved, there have been numerous very memorable war photographs over the years. Raising of the Flag on Mount Suribachi, The Sinking of the Arizona, The Dead on the Battlefield at Gettysburg, The aftermath of a Mustard Gas attack, The Veitnamese man being executed in the street, the Soldier at on Guadacanal staring off into space, the list goes on and on.

    So, what aspect of the upcomming war would you want to capture? What type of picture would you be trying to make? The massive destruction? The heroism? The effect on the civilians?

    After thinking awhile, I think I'd try to document the human aspect, not heroism but suffering, weariness, horror, and the destruction of the planet and culture. Flaming oil wells, ancient art ruined, refugees, shell shocked soldiers and soldiers that are just grim but doing their duty, and, of course, the horror of death and suffering, especially if this war turns ugly.

    The overall goal wouldn't be to aid any anti-war movement, but to show that war, however necessary it may sometimes be (and I really don't know personally how necessary or unnecessary it is at this point), is not to be waged lightly.

    Your Pictures?
     
  2. frank

    frank Subscriber

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    The images with the greatest impact on me would be of the innocent civilian "colateral damage" especially the children.
     
  3. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  4. BobF

    BobF Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Aggie @ Mar 19 2003, 09:53 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> It is all a total package.&nbsp; Is that not what documentary photography strives to do? Tell the whole story through pictures?&nbsp; Balance it with both sides?</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    I can't agree more and I didn't realize just how much the media has been distorting the issue until this week when we suddenly get repeated stories and pictures of Hussein's sadistic and murderous actions. Where has this been over the last few months? Why were the pictures of piled bodies of the Kurds not seen for the last six months and now it is shown nightly?

    Those Kurds were the "colateral damage" of appeasement and inaction.
     
  5. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  6. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Unfortunately, few remember that the attack on the Kurds was backed and supplied with materials from the United States. At the time, Iraq was our friend and we were concerned with Iran -- the country whose name ended with "n".

    I just came across a series of photographs by Ernst Haas. He made many photographs of returning German soldiers. No "shocking" gore, just everyday images of a soldier in uniform, semi-silhoetted from the rear - on crutches with only one leg; a short, dumpy woman, holding a photograph of a soldier, and pleading with her expression for some information; a man in a military overcoat, walking with his arm around a woman; an older woman praying....

    Nothing explosively emotional, but, taken together they speak of the loss of hope, the anxiety of "not knowing" ... the bleakness and horrible, penetrating boredom, and waiting.

    "My" war was Korea. I spent most of my time in the Combat Engineers, training others to blow things up. Back then, I learned a song from a 33 year veteran.
    It came from the first World War, and probably describes combat more eloquently than my photography ever could:

    "Where the whiz-bangs are flyin'
    And comforts are few
    There brave man are a-dyin'
    For bastards like you."

    This applies to those getting shot at - on either both side.
     
  7. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Along with this discussion of war photographs one must not lose sight of the use of manipulation, fakery and staging in such photographs. The most famous is the Mt. Sarubuchi raising of the flag which was actually a recreation of of the actual event with a much bigger American flag.

    We also know that Sadam used corpses that had died from causes other then war to display to gullible news organizations in the first Iraqi war as casualties.

    The US military is very good at showing only the successful smart bomb strikes and Patriot missle intercepts.

    These practices go all the way back to the Civil War where it was common practice for photographers to move corpses into more pleasing compositions.

    Finally, correct me if I am wrong, but hasn't the famous photograph by Capa of the Spanish soldier being shot by been debunked as staged?
     
  8. Mark in SD

    Mark in SD Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Jim68134 @ Mar 20 2003, 07:24 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> The most famous is the Mt. Sarubuchi raising of the flag which was actually a recreation of of the actual event with a much bigger American flag.
    </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    There have been many stories about the flag raising captured in this picture and I'm not sure that we'll ever know for sure which is correct. The one I've chosen to believe is as follows.

    The first flag raised was a small flag. The Marine General in charge of the landing saw it there but said it was, "Too damn small, get a bigger flag up there."

    Like any good marines, the saluted and found a large flag on one of the ships and had it brought to shore. The flag was then carried up to the summit through enemy fire (the mountain wasn't completely secured at the time), the smaller flag taken down, and the new one raised.

    So, it wasn't a real recreation, it was the replacement of the original flag with a larger one.

    It may not be the truth, but it is the story I like best.
     
  9. BobF

    BobF Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Ed Sukach @ Mar 20 2003, 05:28 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>Unfortunately, few remember that the attack on the Kurds was backed and supplied with materials from the United States.
    </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    And few remember that the United States sold Japan the materials to use in the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

    Photos and words are often used to mislead and distort.
     
  10. lee

    lee Member

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    One of the members of that entourage (to place the flag on Mt. Sarubuchi) was a Pima Indian from a reservation in Arizona. His name was Ira Hayes. There is a song written about him. "The Ballad of Ira Hayes".

    Aggie, If you see Ramblin' Jack, ask him about it. I bet he will sing it for you. It was written by Richard Farina. At the time, he was married to the sister of Joan Baez, Mimi. He was later killed in a traffic accident. He also wrote a book titled "Been down so long, it looks like up to me". Long out of print, but a good read of how it was in the '60's.

    lee/c
     
  11. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    From Gulf War I (actually Gulf War 2 since the first one was the Iran-Iraq conflict....), there is an amazing picture in B+W magazine (the U.S. version) by someone who's name is totally escaping me right now, of an exhausted firefighter who had been working on the oil fires.

    This guy is slumped against some machinery and everything is coated with a layer of crude oil. The metering could not have been fun on it.... The only part of the picture that isn't completely coated is this guy's face. And the expression he has on it is just stunning. I don't know if I have ever seen an expression like that before.

    But it really seems to capture a moment. And a moment that is very apolitical.
     
  12. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I think I would wait untill after the shooting stops and then show the torture rooms and mass graves that hold the victims of Sadam's brutality.

    And it is true that the US supplied Iraq with many weapons used against Iran and its own population. It is also good to remember that many of the weapons and the technology for the "alleged" WMDs that our troops our now facing were purchased From France, China and Russia, our supposed allies from time to time. I guess overthrowing Sadam is a major inconvienence to their pocketbooks.
     
  13. lee

    lee Member

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    Robert and all,

    The photographer's name is Sebastiao Salgado.


    http://www.terra.com.br/sebastiaosalgado/ find the workers section and go to the site map and you will see the image (Kuwait, 1991). He is an interesting fellow.


    lee/c
     
  14. lee

    lee Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Robert Kennedy @ Mar 20 2003, 09:39 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> But it really seems to capture a moment. And a moment that is very apolitical. </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    To carry that note about the firefighter a little farther, I have had long conversations with a fellow that claims that Sebastiao Salgado is a communist and that everything he does is political and is meant for propaganda. I htink it is because of the book that he did titled "Workers". Workers was a theme that the Communist Party used for a long time. Things mean different things to different people.

    go figger,
    lee\c
     
  15. lee

    lee Member

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    When he was an economist he did use and subcribe to a Marxist economy set of theories.

    lee/c
     
  16. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I had the opportunity to meet a fellow by the name of Nick Orzio a couple of years ago who was a photographer assigned to cover General MacArthur, near the end of WW2 and during the occupation of Japan until about 1947. He covered the war crimes trials of Tojo and others. He spent a lot of time touring the country and took a large number of photographs of the people trying to rebuild their lives and their country. He somehow obtained the photographs back from the army and they are now touring parts of the country on exhibit. They are fascinating.

    It is very difficult to show the incredible destruction of buildings and life and not make it an anti war statement. However just the war is, the aftermath is it's own statement.

    As for the so called fakes of MT Surabachi, don't forget that the photographers job was not to take a documentary. The entire movie and still photography division was essentially to make propaganda for consumption at home. Many of the stills were used in Stars and Stripes Magazine to boost morale in a war that the US and Allies were not initially winning, and especially against the Japanese, was very bloody.

    The definitive photograph or the Gulf War I believe was the one of the burned up Iraqi solder half sticking out of the tank. Viet Nam, was the naked girl running and covered in Napalm. As well the one mentioned about the captured double agent shot in the head.

    As for the photographers point of view, any shot taken during a war, that shows what human beings are capable of pro and con, is always going to be a mesmerizing and haunting image. Any soldier will tell you that was is hell.


    Michael McBlane