Friday, May 2, 2008

Power/Responsibility/Orphan Works

 In a great scene from Spiderman, Uncle Harry turns to his nephew Peter Parker, yet to be become the super hero, and says " With great power comes great responsibility." Later , Peter now Spiderman, learns the depth of that statement.


This is my mother, in her youth , right after World War ll in France. 
It is an honest portrait showing a strong beautiful girl not trying to project anything but her strong presence in the moment of who she is,  unknown to another viewer all the experiences of World War ll   that she endured during the German occupation. Technically, flawed by a cheap camera  it still holds her real self, even now as an elderly lady, as I know her. It speaks for her in that moment, sure of today with no expectations of tomorrow. It is a time piece.


A few years later, early 50s, arriving in New York City, a professional photographer took these next images. While they are technically perfect with all the high grade professionalism and beauty of classic photography, they are someone else that I never knew but only discovered in my teens lying in a draw.While I recognized her as my mother, this was a woman I never knew existed, or could. For all purposes, it was my mother being someone else. It doesn't have the honesty about her but obviously it was not meant to. It was a projection of someone else. 


60 years ago, neither photographer probably had any knowledge of where or who these distinctly different images of the same person would wind up nor whom would view them. Luckily both had some knowledge of how to preserve them and both these time pieces endured and hopefully will continue for the future generations of my family. 


As photographers we are not Spiderman, but like him we also share an awesome responsibility because like him, we wield an awesome power. The power of stopping time and holding it in one place. It is something that we don't think of each time we push the button.  but exists in the future of the viewer whose life is affected by it. Sometimes its history, sometimes its personal. Always it is a powerful thing that affects both the viewer in the present and more so the one in the future  


In a previous post I spoke of Orphan Works, a very hot item among us photographers. Luckily I knew the first photographer, my dad. The second one unfortunately is lost. I would have loved to have met him today if he is still with us just to talk about the entire series of images he made here. With his forgiveness I am showing his work here with admiration.


In our possible future, images will contain an image footprint much like a finger print where no two are exactly alike, due to the digital information contained in both its metadata and the very pixels in the scan or digital file itself that make the image.This footprint would be recorded and housed so that by sending this image to that house would show me who,what and where this image came from. Were that the case,I would have been able to look him up, contact him and chatted, or at the least with whomever owns this image today.


Our responsibility will lie with a serious approach of entering and registering as much info that is possible with whatever new digital programs are yet to be written. In our near future and their distant one, we and everything about what we have created will further that awesome power as long as we can further our responsibility.  


On the subject of Orphan Works,    John Harrington, voices his opinion on his blog, well worth reading. 

2 comments:

Don said...

Matthew, great blog, love this post. What a fine original portrait of your mother. Thank you!

don
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don schaefer

dcdk said...

A stunningly beautiful woman in really great photographs! A combination which is hard to beat. She has passed her beauty on to her granddaughters and her great granddaughters.
We enjoyed looking at these pictures as well as your Aunt last week.
dcdk