December 25, 2016

"What makes these pictures so different from all of the other pictures of death that we see?"

"The poses are almost classical, frozen, or rehearsed as if from theater, ballet, painting, or mannequin display. The photographer, working the art opening for the Associated Press, deserves all of the enormous credit he's received for responding as fluidly as a war photographer to the sudden outbreak of violence. But if I told you the images were fake, or staged, you might believe me. As Kurt Andersen put it on Twitter, 'the great photojournalism of 2016 is continuing to resemble stills from a scary, not-entirely-realistic movie' — and that strange familiarity we feel in looking at the images is one reason they are so uncomfortable to contemplate...."

From "Considering the Ankara Assassination Photos As History Painting."

38 comments:

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

It's like the photographer was invisible.

Amexpat said...

When I first saw the photos I thought they were a recreation of the event or stills from a movie. Knowing that they're not, makes them more disturbing.

Mountain Maven said...

Seems trolling your readers doesn't abate for Merry Christmas Ann

chickelit said...

I get more out of seeing the killer's corpse shot full of bloody holes. Justice.

Laslo Spatula said...

These photos don't have the Cinéma Vérité of the Zapruder film.

If we are talking aesthetics.

They leave no room for a Grassy Knoll.

I am Laslo.

Lem said...

There is something "artistically thematic?" to this picture... https://twitter.com/lemang01/status/801187988453605377

It's from the night Hillary supporters got the shocking news.

R.J. Chatt said...

A chilling and sick reminder of the cliché that "life imitates art." Here we have murderer acting as performance artist as an act of expression. Other artists have gone so far as to have themselves shot or wounded, but no one intentionally got themselves killed.

Reading the comments to the article I didn't see anyone connecting the choice of an art venue to make jihad as a direct attack on Western values. I think this tragic act is similar in intention to the attacks at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, targeting Western culture but followed up in the media by deliberate obfuscation.

I haven't seen any comments at all on art blogs or art websites about this episode and phenomenon. I think everyone is too afraid to say anything for fear of being labeled Islamophobic. I doubt this will be the last such statement however.

traditionalguy said...

Like every other dead body, the corpse died of its heart stopping circulation. Our Life is in our circulating blood.

A High School friend and teammates's story of waiting years for a heart transplant was on Football Night in America tonight. He lives because he was given a working heart from another man. That makes Sammy a younger 71 than I am, now.

traditionalguy said...

Like every other dead body, the corpse died of its heart stopping circulation. Our Life is in our circulating blood.

A High School friend and teammates's story of waiting years for a heart transplant was on Football Night in America tonight. He lives because he was given a working heart from another man. That makes Sammy a younger 71 than I am, now.

narciso said...

There are some parallels with black September's revenge killing of wasfi talk, who had directed the suppression of fatah.

David said...

It's in a gallery with white walls, designed to make images stand out. Even bad art can look good in this setting if you don't pay close attention.

David said...

"Reading the comments to the article I didn't see anyone connecting the choice of an art venue to make jihad as a direct attack on Western values. I think this tragic act is similar in intention to the attacks at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, targeting Western culture but followed up in the media by deliberate obfuscation."

Classic overthink. These lone killers pick the easiest places to make the kill.

9/11. That was a symbolic target (targets).

Quaestor said...

I'm grateful to the photographer for his dedication and sang froid. His work illustrates the treacherous fanaticism of the terrorist who respects nothing beyond the scope of his own prejudices, and it answers a question every journalist who has reported on this assassination has so far failed to address, why was Ambassador Karlov giving a speech in a Turkish art gallery? These photos reveal the why to anyone who cares to look.

The accompanying article by Jerry Saltz is bit circular and could have used a second look, or a third, by a discerning editor. For example, "It's a new surrealism of modern life, made all the more harrowing because it could not be more truly real." That just about hits the nail on the head alrighty, reminding one of the New Theory on the Brontosaurus by [Ms.] Anne Elk.

And then there's "All of this triggers an unreal internal visual dance.". Yeech... I for one will be grateful when that verb goes out of style. Mechanisms are triggered, not persons, unless you're a fucking robot. The Democratic Party is chock full of people who use trigger in this mindless fashion, which is ironic to say the least.

Next we have this: "Whether cravenly or by instinct, the photographer immediately reacted, moved into the action from almost straight on and framed the picture perfectly. He or she values frontality, clarity, structure, density, form." Why hasn't Saltz taken the time to discover a few pertinent facts about the artist he praises so highly. It's not like the photos are unattributed. Maybe that was just the overly self-conscious prose style making an ass of itself again, I donno... But not to let an opportunity for internal incongruence slip past him Saltz uses a gender-specific pronoun (horror of horrors) just a few sentences further on, as if someone tapped him on his shoulder while he was typing to whisper dude, Burhan Ozbilici's a dude in his shell-like.

Quaestor said...

Continued...

"Whether cravenly or by instinct, the photographer immediately reacted, moved into the action from almost straight on and framed the picture perfectly. He or she values frontality, clarity, structure, density, form." Does Jerry Saltz own a dictionary, or is he using an instance of the word cravenly of which I am not aware? I for one have never read a sentence like "the firefighter cravenly advanced into the blazing building."

How do writers like Jerry Saltz get paid? Or, more to the point, who pays them? Evidently someone who doesn't read English.

Zach said...

It's a little crass to compare a real life murder to a painting, but I forgive the author because it's such an apt comparison. I was actually going to make the Jaques-Louis David comparison myself, but the author beat me to it with the Oath of the Horatii.

As someone pointed out on Twitter, one of the scariest things about the whole episode is how amazing the assassin looks. A thousand terrorists just saw their fondest self image play out in real life.

gadfly said...

@Mid-Life Lawyer said...

It's like the photographer was invisible.

A more suspicious mind (or a conspiriacy nut) might wonder why the cameraman was being ignored and might speculate that the camera operator was a professional with the finest camera available, finely preset for lighting and distance. The camerawork would seem somehow to be a necessity - perhaps to assure that the assassin could collect his contract payoff.

What we need here is a theory. I say we go with a Putin-arranged assassination through the Mafia friends of Donald Trump.

Quaestor said...

I took the trouble of counting the number of words in the article because there's something about it that invoked a cherished memory of a classic Python bit, the one about the actor who thinks acting is mostly about words, the larger the number required the more taxing the role.

Seven hundred and ninety one words. They're all there, Jerry, now we have to get them in the right order.

Quaestor said...

I say we go with a Putin-arranged assassination through the Mafia friends of Donald Trump.

Go for it, gadfly. Knock yourself out.

Quaestor said...

As someone pointed out on Twitter, one of the scariest things about the whole episode is how amazing the assassin looks.

A cheap suit and a clean shave. Kind of a low threshold for amazing, don't you think?

buwaya puti said...

A professional photographer with a good modern camera and the presence of mind to just keep taking pictures would have gotten the whole of it with little artistic judgement to apply.
Exposure was most certainly set prior as he was already photographing the event, a modern body would have done decent autoexposure anyway, and it is nice even lighting with little need for judgement. Autofocus would do the rest.
The photographer would have just had to keep the camera pointed at the action and keep pressing the button to grab four-ten frames per second. After that its a matter of an editor selecting the best captures and cropping.

dustbunny said...

When I first saw these photos I was put in mind of performance art, it was disturbing to see the images as real not staged, disturbing because they were so still, cold, sharp. I think it was the suit. How seldom we see the immediate after effects of a crime scene where the assassin is so perfectly attired, no hoodies, ski masks or bandannas.

dustbunny said...

When I first saw these photos I was put in mind of performance art, it was disturbing to see the images as real not staged, disturbing because they were so still, cold, sharp. I think it was the suit. How seldom we see the immediate after effects of a crime scene where the assassin is so perfectly attired, no hoodies, ski masks or bandannas.

Ann Althouse said...

I appreciate the mockery of the writing.

As for the confusion about "the photographer" -- the update does say he didn't know the name when he dashed the essay off and published it. The name was then inserted at the beginning.

"Craven" is one of those words that you really need to check before using. It's misused so much that you forget what the right use is. Why does it come to mind as a word you even want to use? Just forget it. It's only going to cause trouble. Be very afraid.

Ann Althouse said...

Althouse, appreciating mockery at 3:10 AM.

Quaestor said...

As for the confusion about "the photographer" -- the update does say he didn't know the name when he dashed the essay off and published it. The name was then inserted at the beginning.

I noticed that, but I assume he's getting paid something to write for The Vulture (Not a very encouraging handle for a site, it is? The carrion eater of the web!) I figure if it's worth doing it's worth going back and proofreading, so Saltz gets the Qaestorian gimlet eye.

Quaestor said...

"Craven" is one of those words that you really need to check before using... Just forget it.

Craven is like timorous — a lovely old word misunderstood when used, misunderstood when heard.

Quaestor said...

The very worst is "All of this triggers an unreal internal visual dance". Really? I mean, really? I'm tempted to follow Jerry Saltz on Tweeter just to demand an explanation.

Ann Althouse said...

Craven seems like a portmanteau of "crave" and "raven." And you also see "rave." It just looks active and aggressive.

Ann Althouse said...

Don't mess with "craven." My advice against using "craven" is not like my advice against using "garner" other than the way it's the same: Don't use it.

dustbunny said...

I just saw that I posted twice and there is no way to delete the second one. I'm pretty sure I only hit publish once, does anyone know why this happens?

Quaestor said...

I just saw that I posted twice and there is no way to delete the second one. I'm pretty sure I only hit publish once, does anyone know why this happens?

You mean there's no trash barrel icon at the bottom of you post?

Try signing out of you blogger account, then closing all instances of you browser. Relaunch the browser and clear cookies. The log back into your blogger account. Come back to this page, and I'll wager the trash barrel icon returns.

Lucien said...

As I noted before, the killer's attire looks like an homage to Reservoir Dogs.

damikesc said...

What still baffles me is the lack of visible blood around the corpse. Never been around a real dead body, but I assume a gunshot death would produce substantial blood pooling around the body.

As an aside, seeing all of those men cowering irks me. Take some control of your life and don't let one mad man determine when you live or die. Attack at once and die on your own terms, at the very least.

Quaestor said...

If he died instantly the heart would have stopped. Np blood pressure, little bleeding.

dustbunny said...

Lucien,yes! Reservoir Dogs, exactly!

damikesc said...

If he died instantly the heart would have stopped. Np blood pressure, little bleeding.

But wouldn't the blood in the body release from the open wound? I have no idea and I never even considered the possibility of instant death and the subsequent lack of blood pressure to cause excessive blood loss.

mikee said...

When I was a callow college youth, my friends and I developed a thing we called Unintentional Surreal Symbolism. It started when a friend's large decorative candle, left on a windowsill in May in South Carolina, melted into a Dali-esque piece of inert performance art. It continued with random labware breakages, interesting vomit patterns in the communal dorm bathrooms late on Saturday nights, clothing semi-destroyed in dorm washers, and on and on.

Eventually, just before graduation, we realized our apotheosis of the genre. A stain of spilled red paint in a stairwell was given a quick chalk body outline to create the death of our nonsense. Somebody else, not realizing it was a goof, called the Campus Cops to investigate. We all took the 5th without telling anyone, and laughed ourselves to sleep. Good times.

As to the subject at hand: can a death be artistic? Yes, but living is still harder to accomplish, both artistically and with only drab survival as the achievement.

Quaestor said...

But wouldn't the blood in the body release from the open wound?

Depends where the open wound is relative to the the body and gravity. Livor mortis.