Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Women, Face, Focus, Mattress, Photography, Reality, Family, Children

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/10/31

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The world we know is becoming more and more technological each day. Every day a new gadget is developed and our extremely consumerist society tells us it is important to obtain it. Why? Because otherwise we would end up ostracized. Nowadays technology has become the new way our generation found in order to interact. This also means that currently we interact more with screens than we do with actual people, which explains why image and its construction have completely transformed and adopted a whole new importance.
The construction of an image, and specifically a piece of art, relies mostly on its ability to endure the pass of time in the memory of the spectator. But we are constantly bombarded with many kinds of images. Some of them have even transformed into what falls into the category of “normativity”. And in this normativity we inadvertently have come to ignore a lot of our surroundings. Specially our own social and political reality. That is how the role of the artist becomes that of making us notice that which we unwittingly ignore. That is how the ‘intolerable image’ came to be.
Medusa was once a beautiful woman who slept with Poseidon in a temple to Athene. As punishment, Athene turned her into a winged monster [] Here is an image of beauty turned into terror, existing on the edge of human experience, impossible to behold directly. [] The myth says that the intolerable image can be survived only through an invisible posture and a reflective vision resulting in an action of stealth. (Schenk, 1992)
We have become so used to seeing certain amounts of violence in our day to day lives that we do not perceive it as something ‘violent’ anymore. It is like being asked to count the number of red cars that we come across on our way home and then being asked about how many blue cars crossed in our ways. It would be hard to tell since we were so completely focused on our task of finding the red cars. That is to say, we do not see something that we are not looking for. Same goes for imagery. We have become used to so much information coming our way every single day that it is hard to focus on only one piece of information. So what do we do when we come face to face with a piece of information that firmly stands before us and refuses to disappear when we try to turn our heads? That is when we realize ‘we do not want to see it’: “The proof is that we view these photographs whereas we would not tolerate the reality they reproduce. The only defect in this argument from authority is that those who saw this reality, and, in the first instance, those who took the images, did indeed have to tolerate it. But this is precisely why the philosopher criticizes the photographer: for having wanted to witness”. We develop feelings of both shame of being accused and anguish on being presented that kind of image. Such is the case presented in Clarence Williams’ Pullitzer-winner work (1998), where he documented the plight of young children with parents addicted to alcohol and drugs. Through the images presented we, as spectators, find it hard to conceive that such reality even exists, and as so, the work of the images is to explain to us, in terms we can fully comprehend, that it is a reality. Williams’ work is proof that we are no longer spectators when it comes to day to day life. That is to say that we are not really watching our surroundings anymore, our sight has gone blind-sighted and we no longer have perspective. However, we regain our condition as spectators when we focus our complete attention on these pictures presented to us as a whole new world. In this particular case the world the children are living in.
On the first picture we are presented with a photograph taken from the upper corner view of the room. In this room there are not many objects, there is only a mattress on the floor and what can only be classified as trash around it. Just a bunch of papers and garbage. The mattress is placed on the lower right side of the image- We can see three persons in this photograph: Two women and a little girl. Since we normally read an image from left to right, we will be treating this image the same way, so the first woman we address will be the one on the lower left corner. She is blond, and we cannot see much of her face. She is sitting down and has her legs stretched on part of the mattress. The second woman is facing towards the first one. She is a brunette and is sitting down on the same mattress. On the picture both women appear out of focus and are seemingly not paying attention to the child. The focus of the whole composition is the little girl. She is fast asleep, with her tiny body across the mattress, wearing only a dirty, old, white dress that does not really fit her. On the captions of the image, the photographer describes them as Tamika Triggs (girl), her mother Theodora (brunette woman) and her friend Dorene McDonald (blond woman).
The second image’s characters are the same yet the situation is another one. Theodora is at the front of the image and she is sticking a needle in her arm. As in the first image, she is a little out of focus but it is not as much as in the other one. The main focus is still the little Tamika, who is in the back of the photograph, hiding her face with her arms covering it. She is tugging the arm of the chair while doing so, as if she couldn’t stand the sight of her mother sticking the needle in her arm.
The last image we are going to analyze is a portrait of the little girl looking out the window. Only her face and a little bit of the window are framed. Her innocent stare is fixed on the void and her curls fall gently on the sides of her face.
There is a narrative to these three photographs. A discourse so cruel for a child to be in that it hurts to acknowledge the fact that it is something real. There are several elements on these pictures individually that cause a huge impression on us, yet as a whole they are that much more powerful. Not only do we get to glance in the life of these torn up families, we get a chance to enter their worlds and experience almost first-hand the pain they live in. We become empathetic towards them.
Clarence William both accuses us of not having realized before their existence and also makes us aware of the whole situation. We have come to a point where we can easily walk by a woman begging for money and we can perfectly walk past them without feeling any sort of empathy anymore. And we are ashamed of that, and we are ashamed of the fact that it had to be brought to our attention by someone else. Is like the observers have fallen into a trap. And all those feeling that invade us form a great part of this work of art. Those feelings will be that which marks the beholders in a uncomfortable and unforgettable way. It comes to show that it is not always about that which we ‘see’ but about that which we ‘perceive’. The way we perceive the images in front of us become part of the aesthetic experience.

Annex 2
Annex 3


Schenk, Ronald. The Soul of Beauty: A Psychological Investigation of Appearance. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1992. Print.
Rancière, Jacques. "The Intolerable Image." In The Emancipated Spectator, 83-105. Vol. 3. London: Verso, 2009. Print.

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Essay On Annex 1. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/essay-on-annex-1/. Published Oct 31, 2020. Accessed January 17, 2022.

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