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Thread: The Falling Man

  1. #1
    bjorke's Avatar
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    The Falling Man

    Hijacking cate's comment from that other thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by catem View Post
    The photograph of the 'falling man' is different from anything I've ever seen before. It is beyond the photographs I have seen of war, famine, disease, brutality, disaster. By 'beyond' I don't mean in the sense of being worse, but different. Too complex, too terrible and multi layered to talk about here.
    I am certainly a result of cultural encoding, in that I immediately saw the falling man as a horrifying parody of images like this Masaccio that I'd grown up seeing every single day:




    For some reason editors are fond of cropping-away the building, and also of setting the falling man off-center. But for myself, I have never been able to shake the comparison, made stronger but the vertical rays and left-right split tones of the original -- the falling man helpless between dark and light.

    --

    I mention this because I feel that it scrapes at the surface of What Makes Photographs Important. Questions of divinity aside, people today still remember the Roman occupation of Palestine because of the story of ONE MAN whom they feel affinity to, out of the many thousands who were apparently treated just as badly by the occupation forces. This hints to me at truths about fundamental mechanisms of human morality and how they influence our responses to all pictures. YMMV of course.

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    Andy K's Avatar
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    The interesting thing about the Falling Man photo is that at first it was flashed around the world and shown in many early edition papers, but by mid-day most had pulled it.
    I have never understood that. To me that photograph held so much information and really brought home the awfulness of the situation for, and the desperation of those trapped above the impact zones. I mean how bad can things be that it is preferable to jump to certain death than it is to stay put? Even today that picture makes the hair on my neck stand up.
    The only time previously photographs had held that feeling were those WW2 photos from Saipan of Japanese civilians throwing themselves off cliffs rather than be captured by US Marines. They had been so indoctrinated by the Japanese authorities that the Americans would do terrible things to them.


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    Dave Miller's Avatar
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    This is the first time I have seen this picture. For me it sums up the useless waste that resulted from the unforgivable act that precipitated it. Having read some of the articles linked to the earlier thread I fail to understand how anyone can censure the victims that may have chosen to escape the choking inferno, and a certain terrible death, that they faced by jumping from the building. It is important that such pictures are taken, and not hidden; for we should not be permitted to forget the evil that occasioned this further example of man’s inhumanity to man.
    Regards Dave.

    An English Eye


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    I usually ignore most of the images and comment from that day. That reason being, I watched it happen with my own eyes.

    I have been in the photo business most of my working life. I had not one little bit of desire to pick-up my camera and take photo's that day.

    I never really did understand the photo-journalist mentality. Do they take such images because they are drawn to it, or do they do it to make a buck?

    On this day I want to believe that a photo instinct kicked in.

    Today, with a clearer head [not too clear yet], I can see the importance of these images for the loved ones who lost their family members that day, anything to grab onto.

    Personally, I dont think any 911 images should be looked upon as iconic images or great work. NO IMAGE can have the realization of being there when it went down, NONE!

    Sometimes I just want to forget it happened, but everything in our world today keeps reminding me of it... I cant get away.

    dw

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    Andy K's Avatar
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    Dave, this photograph has been the subject of a very good documentary. You can see it on youtube, Part 1 is here, and from that you can find Pts2, 3 etc. If you decide to watch I warn you now, it is quite harrowing.
    'Lonely ten second journeys, a very public way of dying...'


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    Quote Originally Posted by dr5chrome View Post
    NO IMAGE can have the realization of being there when it went down, NONE!
    Of course not. But as most of us weren't there; well, maybe we need to see certain images as iconic.

    That's not a selfish 'we need'. Rather, it's a way for us to begin to appreciate it. Begin only, note.

    Responding to the original post, the iconography draws me immediately to the Tarot. Two cards: the hanged man, and the lightning-struck tower.
    Free Photography Information on My Website
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    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    In Canada, CBC Newsworld, as part of their documentary film series "The Passionate Eye" is showing again a documentary about this photograph, the photographer, people who were there, the families who thought he may be related to them, and the families who didn't want him to be related. Well worth seeing.

    http://www.cbc.ca/passionateeyemonday/fallingman/

    It airs again on Sunday, September 16, 2007 at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld.

    Murray
    Last edited by MurrayMinchin; 09-14-2007 at 04:49 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr5chrome View Post
    I never really did understand the photo-journalist mentality. Do they take such images because they are drawn to it, or do they do it to make a buck?

    On this day I want to believe that a photo instinct kicked in.

    Sometimes I just want to forget it happened, but everything in our world today keeps reminding me of it... I cant get away.

    dw
    My wife and I watched from the west coast. My wife watched the towers being built in the 1970s. They were a part of her sense of the place of her home town. People not from NYC were blase about it that morning. Then came the barrage of media coverage, and the zillion replays of the towers falling. One columnist later described the obsessive coverage as a form of pornography.

    I totally respect your position on this. Yeah, we all needed to see it, in order to have at least some abstract idea of what happened, but being there must have been such a different experience. I think this calls into question the whole nature of how we get information, and how we process it. I only saw two-dimensional images on a TV screen. Probably a whole book could be written on the differences.
    Robert Hunt

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    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Miller View Post
    This is the first time I have seen this picture. For me it sums up the useless waste that resulted from the unforgivable act that precipitated it. Having read some of the articles linked to the earlier thread I fail to understand how anyone can censure the victims that may have chosen to escape the choking inferno, and a certain terrible death, that they faced by jumping from the building. It is important that such pictures are taken, and not hidden; for we should not be permitted to forget the evil that occasioned this further example of man’s inhumanity to man.
    Well said..

    This photograph breaks my heart.

    I'm glad Richard Drew had the presence of mind to make it. I'm not sure I would have been able to shoot had I been there. It's a difficult photograph to look at.

    I was at the playground with my very young children at the time this photograph was made... on a beautiful day, and this man died... for us? I don't ever want to forget his sacrifice. His life ended, I would guess, far too soon, at the hands of people who imagined and carried out an extraordinarily brutal act.

    This is an important photograph.

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    As someone who escaped the attack on the Pentagon, that whole day was beyond surreal. It felt like I was trapped in a bad B-movie that I just couldn't get out of. I have a certain feeling about those who express sympathy in a particular way, but experienced it vicariously through TV. I realize that it affects everyone on a different emotional level, and perhaps some of my dissociation from the emotional impact comes from the fact that I was a direct participant, and it's what I had to do to get through the day. More than just that day, actually, as we had to return to work the very next day, and go back into a building that was still on fire. I was also very fortunate to not know anyone directly who died at the Pentagon; many of my co-workers though were not so fortunate. A friend of mine was one of the first responders and spent the first 72 hours or so on-site working continuously to treat the injured and recover the dead. He's now 100% disabled, needs a wheelchair for mobility out of the home, and still suffers from PTSD six years afterward.

    Photos like that one touch me deeply on one level, but don't, on another. It's a response like the one that the famous Eddie Addams photo of the Vietnamese colonel shooting the prisoner in the head evokes - great emotional sadness and anger, but at the same time, looking at it there's this emptiness you can positively feel, like there's something missing that you KNOW should be there, but don't know what it is...
    I think it's a response to profound tragedy, to help you keep your mental balance and survive it.

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