Framing the World deals with questions that are rarely asked in texts that deal with photography and the media: Does a picture really tell more than a thousand words or is it the other way 'round that we need a thousand words to understand a picture? Is it true that seeing is believing or do we simply see what we happen to believe? Why is it that the act of closely looking, if it does not occur in a socially accepted situation, is essentially taboo? Are we condemned to see the world in a culturally conditioned way?
Framing the World argues that the mainstream media (their owners are pillors of society and not revolutionaries) are essentially propaganda instruments; it stresses the importance to not simply accept the contexts that the main news providers put on the agenda but encourages us to create our own.
Hans Durrer's essays on photography remind us, in a world of increasingly ubiquitous images, that the magic, mystery and subjective meaning of photographic images continue to be compelling. His essays help us question our assumptions about what we see, especially in the media. He gives us a perspective which encourages us to remember that what we see is not a soldier, or a wounded child. What we see is, he reminds us in delightfully numerous ways, is a photograph. Without context, he insists, what we can learn from a photograph is likely to be less than what we can understand if the image is accompanied with text of some kind. Especially with digital images, he says, we need to know something about who made the photograph, where and when it was made, and perhaps we are justified in our desire to know why this image moment is in our daily newspaper. If we are not given this information, we need at least to develop a habit of asking ourselves these questions. Durrer's essays advance the long conversation about the nature of photography, what it can and cannot tell us, and how we might reflect on these images.
Emelle Sonh, photo-artist, San Francisco
We have to be cautious, Hans Durrer admonishes us, to think a press photo by itself neatly reflects the real world. It may present itself as such, but a press photo never speaks for itself. Each time we look at a photograph we are forced to construct its meaning from the context within which it is placed. Leading us through a well-chosen series of case studies, Hans Durrer skillfully instills our attentiveness towards the unspoken messages of press photography.
Ger Tillekens, editor of "Studies in Photography" at Soundscapes, Online Journal on Media Culture, Groningen, The Netherlands
Framing the World: Photography, Propaganda and the Media
Alondra Press, Houston 2011, http://www.alondrapress.com/
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