Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Exercise: Discussing Documentary

This exercise is to read the article ‘Discussing Documentary’ by Maartje van den Heuvel 2005 and write a short summary.

I found this an interesting and easy to read document that gave many examples of where documentary has been used and assigned to past and more recent photographers. The document also talks at length about documentary being used as an awareness mechanism for social reform. I have to question a lot of this as "social reform" seems to be a very common theme amongst many of the documents presented so far in this course. Yes it is an important fact but I am not convinced of the real intent. All artists want their work to be recognised and understood, the concept in Heuvel's document of "visual literacy" clearly enforces this. Do photographers therefore concentrate around subjects and visualisations in areas that will question the viewers morals and self-views to gain popularity? I for one admire such documentary as it humbles me and makes me feel lucky to be where I am. Although I would not categorise this as sensationalising I have to wonder why so much of the notorious documentary is associated with social reform.

Heuvel does though include other genres of documentary and addresses a very important change in how media is used and influences our lives connected using the Internet. I was interested in how the face of documentary has changed in various countries at various times to suit political gains and the development of social reform. e.g. Russia pre-Soviet Union, occupied Netherlands during WWII following Hilter's banishment of Vereinigung der Arbeiter-Fotographen etc. I also found that the references of reenactment of critical events in time were very interesting, examples such as the hijacking and murder of Israeli athletes in 1972 by Christopher Draeger. Is this really something new or is this always been a trend of documentary throughout time, even before the first photograph was ever taken, e.g. The Last Supper - Da Vinci 1495-1498.

Christopher Draeger - Black September

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