Exercise 3.1

Exercise 3.1 – Fred Ritchin Towards a Hyperphotography (2008)

I found this essay very interesting – in fact it led me on to research other articles, videos etc. There’s a strong message coming through all of them in relation to photo-journalism and its need to use interactive digital methods to engage, weave together multiple narratives, and allow all points of view to emerge.  All this achieved through hypertext and hyperlinks which can be contained within an image (hyperphotography)  so that further information can be accessed.  His example of Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother is a very clear one to begin to understand his concept and here is a helpful Wikipedia article that gives contextual background and presents other photographs taken at the same time. Imagine though a web image of the actual photograph with links embedded that travel to comments and memories from Florence Thompson and her family. In the essay Ritchin writes ‘reality has no single truth’ (2008:147). He posits the idea of a contradictory ‘double’ image which is cubist, staged events  or simulations which could be exposed by a second photograph.

The Exercise asks if we can find any visual examples of ‘cubistically unmasking photo opportunities’ and to look for multiple points of view around a single news event or story. In his essay Ritchin refers to the  website akaKURDISTAN here  – “a place for collective memory and cultural exchange”.  There is a story map and the introductory panel quickly changes to a map which has highlighted yellow spots

Every spot takes the viewer to a different story. One took me to images and story from a teacher of what happened at midnight on June 19th 1963 to the people of Sulaimania. Many were captured and four teachers were executed and placed in a mass grave.  No one knew about this until November 1963 and when the bodies were exhumed a friend of theirs (the narrator) took photographs of the exhumation. The father of one of the executed men said, “I have no photo of me with my son so please take our picture together”.

The website was one of the outcomes from work by the photographer Susan Meiselas  who used MacArthur Foundation funding (beginning in 1992) to curate a photographic history of Kurdistan which resulted in a book as well as the website.

I will be writing more about Fred Ritchin’s views on photojournalism in a digital age in Assignment 3.