Posted at 10.06.2018
Describe what sort of greater knowledge of the communal and historical framework of an body of photographic work can be useful in interpreting its meaning. You should refer to the task of a person photographer, or of organisation using picture taking, to justify your debate.
In this essay I am going to look at the photographic work of Craig J Barber and his unique approach to post-war Vietnam and Havana, Cuba using the medium of pinhole picture taking. I'll explore how Barbers approach to photographing Vietnam by using pinhole cameras, explains to a unique story of its own in terms of post-war Vietnam, the atmosphere and life after the war and also the alternative route he has taken set alongside the work of other photography enthusiasts who have looked at Vietnam as a subject. I am going to also check out Barbers view of today's day Havana and the way the countries past problems with politics has molded Havana and exactly how its future is deconstructing the Socialist ideal.
The Vietnam Conflict began in 1959 and prolonged until 1975, the war was fought between your Northern Communists and the Anti-Communist South. The Vietnam War had a profound impact not only on the country's political change but also on the making it through people as the fatality toll come to over 4 million Vietnamese useless by the end of the conflict. The Vietnam Battle was well documented photographically and produced some of the most iconic images of battle of the past 100 years, especially Nick Ut's famous image of Phan Thi Kim Phuc as a girl, running for the camera whilst screaming in pain scheduled to injuries sustained from a napalm assault by Southern Vietnam. Another iconic image of the Vietnam war was Eddie Adam's 'Standard Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon' depicting a Vietnamese police force chief performing a war prisoner in a streets. Both these famous images are stark assertions of the brutal and inhumane characteristics of war and icons that helped raise the anti-war movements throughout that period and following periods of issue.
Craig J Barber served as a sea in the American military during the 1960's stationing him in Vietnam through the war at age 18. Thirty-five years later, Spirits of the Scenery: Vietnam revisited is Barbers attempt to re-visit and file the aftermath of the disastrous war and the united states that so deeply influenced his life permanently;
"This was an chance to be able to revisit a land that acquired a profound impact upon warring and to be able to come to terms with it. I always remembered it as a beautiful land that I wanted to return to. "
The pinhole photography of Spirits of the Surroundings is a very different bank account of the country set alongside the photojournalistic style that covered the war itself. Because of the characteristics of the pinhole camera, the images receive a softer target that feels as though the landscapes of Vietnam are only memories left from before the country experienced such destructive bloodshed.
Another characteristic component of pinhole picture taking that has helped to separate Barbers work from famous brands Adams and Ut is the longer subjection times for each image. Dealing with pinhole allowed Barber to see his subject more closely aiding him forge an operating romance with the content while he waited and observed;
"For me personally it's important to access know a location in an close way. WHILE I work I am very slow, I love to look around the sides and behind the doors at the small, quiet details that define the cultural panorama. "
A standard SLR or medium format camera utilized by many photojournalists will decrease right down to f22 in aperture size, whereas when employed in pinhole the aperture can take an f-stop down into the hundreds. In many of Barber's Spirits images, he has chosen to include a human occurrence, often that of children (Dish. 2 and Dish. 3) which in turn provides these images a definite difference in meaning to the desolate landscapes in his other images. Whenever we see a post-war Vietnamese village, obviously filled, but with its inhabitants obscured and blurred almost into the history itself, it starts off to invoke thoughts of these ghosts and memories for Barber of the united states he first noticed in his youngsters.
The inclusion of children in these images then provokes thought at if this is an homage to the dead or perhaps something deeper, for example this may be Barber's way of sharing with the viewers that people who live in Vietnam today are still suffering from the after-effects of conflict and that satisfaction, wish and dignity is still yet to make its way back into the lives of every Vietnamese person. It might be worthwhile noting that during the Vietnam war, THE UNITED STATES inflicted a lethal toxin 'Agent Orange' onto Southern Vietnam resulting in 400, 000 deaths and subsequently creating half a million children to be created with such labor and birth defects as; cleft palate, mental problems, hernias and further toes and fingers. So Barber's addition of children as blurred semi-human shapes may be a note to the world about the continued suffering and miserable conditions that are a daily occurrence in this country. If Barber acquired used standard photography equipment, he'd have needed to file this aftermath either virtually or by including a body of content material along with his image to give clearness to the viewer, whereas pinhole has given him independence to simply create his image and allow it speak its story through stripping away individualism and demonstrating that it's not only an isolated problem to anybody group of people.
Almost all of the images contained in Spirits in the Panorama include views of rural villages made up of primitive solid wood huts (Plate. 5) and the areas of grand French structures (Plate. 16) Barber is documenting having less technology in a few areas and having less change that has happened since his first times in Vietnam in 1960. It shows the innocence on the list of people and keeps true to the anti-capitalist ideals that they organised. Barbers blend of the platinum process and his give attention to documenting his own history and the past of the Vietnamese help to take the viewers back to a period in history via a superbly contrasted and well developed journey of desolation and despair.
Craig Barber's pinhole work went on to a task 'Havana Passing' which viewed Cuba, a country that carrying out a revolution in 1959 became a Socialist republic and has been under a trade embargo from the United States since 1962. Barber, perhaps unbeknownst to him, makes several contacts between his Vietnam and Cuba photographic work; Both of these countries have been around in conflict with the United States, both countries share the same radical politics stance and both countries have experienced revolutions during the 1960's and transitionary cycles that have kept the modern day culture at hook economic and sociable disadvantage.
"In the overdue 1990's I ventured to Cuba for the very first time and been to a land that has continued to be a forbidden puzzle for most Americans. Unspoiled by mass consumerism and global trademarks, Cuba remains a unique blend of Spanish colonial and 1950's Americana with not really a Starbucks around the corner. "
Cuba started out its revolution with Alberto Korda's iconic image Guerrillero Heroico and ended up at Barber's Cuban lament through a series of images depicting the final ghosts of Communism roaming the pavements of Havana. Barber select Havana as a subject for his pinholes because he wished to document the fading culture of Cuba as it started to lose its revolutionary ideals.
Once again, pinhole manages to generate unknown and despair through its long subjection times of Havanian roads and public places although this time around we see well built Spanish architecture and folks who are busily working at neighborhood stalls or having an instant to themselves. The photo Cabbages says Cuba that they are moving away from the world of the local grocery store stall where there could be an agreeable face, talk and fresh produce and moving towards a commercial atmosphere where buying pesticide or genetically-engineered riddled produce will strip away the intimate moment in time of dialog and conversation with a local farmer or block stall-worker. The cabbages are forced into the eye of the viewers pleading for the time when Cuba provided for itself, where in fact the cabbage was grown up with love from the farmer as well as for the country.
Memories is another photograph from the 'Havana Passage' set in place, this image depicts an outdoor bar in a lovely setting. There's a distinct lack of human presence here, no pub staff and no patrons and it could even be considered a ghost town with its neglected color work no typical pub products in sight. Memories talks about the imminent loss of freedom, an outside pub is where people go to relax and socialise while enjoying the entire world around them, but with the Capitalism creeping in, these folks might instead be stuck in their new office job miles away in the heart of Havana creating new regions of desolation among the wonder.
In juxtaposed, Barber creates a Fritz Lang style field of Havana. The foreground contains an almost vacant street field with subtle tips of don't the street and the paintwork of the buildings, there are some people dotted around in the foreground only, plus they seem to be unacquainted with the looming Modernist building creeping up in the background. The photograph looks almost like a photomontage, you can find such a compare between the abrasive, textured neglected block field and the clean perfect curves of the new Modernist structures. There is a car that contextualises Cuba's lack of consumerism and Capitalism and let us the viewers see Cuba's antiquated life-style in action. It looks like a car from the 1950's around the same time that Cuba underwent its trend. The Modernist building is a primary symbol of the days moving forward, from the patchy block which has a community, stories and young families to the high go up apartment blocks for the rich and the sterile office surroundings.
Craig Barber shows the photography world that pinhole is so much more than simply a niche for experimentalists, pinhole may be the next stage of documentary picture taking personalized specifically to documenting the gradual demise of one country after another; perhaps employed by prospective government parties during elections showing the general public where it is proceeding as a propaganda tool for their own 'revolutionary' office.
- Craig J Barber & Alison Devine Nordstrom (2006) 1st Model Ghosts in the Panorama: Vietnam Revisited. NY: Umbrage Editions
- http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Che_Guevara_(photo)
- http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/U. S. _embargo_against_Cuba
- http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Cuba
- http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Alberto_Korda
- http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Havana
- http://www. robinricegallery. com/pastexhibitions/craig_barber/index. html
- http://withoutlenses. com/view/a-conversation-with
- http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Nguy%E1%BB%85n_V%C4%83n_L%C3%A9m
- http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Hu%E1%BB%B3nh_C%C3%B4ng_%C3%9At
- http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Eddie_Adams_(photographer)
- http://www. eastmanhouse. org/exhibits/container_60/index. php
- http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Agent_orange
- http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Che_Guevara_(photo)