Two Photos & A Brief Rant

October 24, 2007 at 9:56 pm 3 comments

Holy Moly!!! I am so sorry I have been absent from my Big Daddy duties for so long. I started by just getting busy & then got slammed with a terrible bout of stomach flu. I was also hit with a funk. A middle-of-October-I’ve-got-so-many-birthdays-coming-up-&-how-long-until-Christmas-Are-You-Kidding-Me? funk. Also, I had a total-lack-of-inspiration funk. I didn’t want to post about anything. I even watched Marie Antoinette one day while home & thought “meh.” I really wanted to love it, & felt so crabby when I didn’t. The costumes & sets were stunning, but the story left me completely flat. I didn’t think it was nearly as good as the biography by Antonia Fraser that it’s based on. So, if I’m such a crab ass, why am I posting again all of a sudden? Because today, I found my inspiration. This morning while the front desk was quiet at my job, I finished the third part of Errol Morris’ fascinating essay series in the New York Times. It is a commitment to read, but oh so rewarding! Here’s the basic setup: a photographer, Roger Fenton, took two photos of the exact same stretch of road in the Valley of the Shadow of Death during the Crimean War. One photo had cannonballs scattered about the road, the other photo didn’t. These are the two photos:

Fenton, Roger. Valley of The Shadow of Death. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin. VIA the New York Times.

Fenton, Roger. Valley of The Shadow of Death. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin. VIA the New York Times.

So the question is: Which photograph came first? Did Roger Fenton take a picture of the empty stretch of road & then place the cannonballs on the road for more drama for the second photo? Or did he remove the canon balls? For some this might sound completely ridiculous. Why even bother? There are two photos of the same stretch of road. Deal with it. But for me, this piece is exactly the kick in the butt my brain needed. There are so many questions that can be asked within this original problem. How do we know which photo came first? The whole journey is full of other questions that emerge within the exploration for the answer to the original query. I can’t even begin to elaborate on all the questions I had while reading & thinking about it. Plus, Errol Morris is such a great writer. I strongly encourage you to read the three-piece essay if you have time. The additional essays posted to the site are just as thought provoking as this one. So go & read! If not, at least try and check out one of his mesmerizing documentaries, Gates of Heaven and Fast, Cheap & Out of Control are my two favorites, but all of them deserve a viewing. Thanks again Mr. Morris for giving my brain the butt kicking it soundly deserved. I’ll be back to regular posting from now on.


Entry filed under: Art + Artist, Blogs & Blogging, Cinema, Photographs, Rants, Writers + Writing.

Paper Stories A Special Happy Birthday Message….

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Msdarby  |  October 25, 2007 at 3:28 am

    Hey Gwendolyn.

    I can’t wait to read the essay’s. Thanks, too, for the email regarding them.

    I am still stuck on your reaction to Sophia’s rendition of Marie Antoinette. I think you need to watch again in a different state. If for not the incredible appreciat\ion of place and music, then the perspective of the filmmakers’ take on a VERY young and very isolated, powerful Marie. The use of modern music to convey the indulgence and riotus sentiments of that time is just fricking groundbreaking. But I am sure you know this.

    My prescription for you on this film is time.

    I go read now.



  • 2. Angie Garrison  |  October 25, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    Cheers back to you! So glad to see a new post. I am intrigued just by the photos, and I certainly shall check out the essays.


  • 3. Casey  |  October 26, 2007 at 2:12 am

    Can’t weigh in on Marie. But, I think about a hundred questions just flashed through my head. Gimme a minute…………… Man, I gotta read that essay.


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