Fred Ritchin’s essay about Hyperphotography (Ritchin, 2008) addresses the issue of “cubistically unmasking photo opportunities”. In Ritchin’s own words,
“The contradictory “double image” is cubist; reality has no single truth.”
Ritchin’s case in point, is a “double image” of US soldiers invading Haiti in 1994. In the first image, a group of soldiers lie on the ground, weapons at the ready with a helicopter hovering behind them. The photograph is immensely powerful; a portrayal of brave soldiers, heroically liberating a nation. The second image however, taken at the same time but from a different angle, shows the scene in its entirety. The soldiers are in fact, bravely facing off against a group of photographers; the whole scene carefully choreographed for the benefit of the public back home. Ritchin suggests that,
“A multiperspectival strategy would help devalue spin…. Photo opportunities could be continuously shown for what they are, until media managers grow tired of putting them on.”
I have to agree with Ritchin here, and I am reminded of another of his “double picture” ideas (discussed in his lecture, Bending the Frame) regarding the meals of US troops in Iraq. There is a famous photograph of president George W. Bush presenting a beautifully cooked Thanksgiving turkey to US troops in Iraq. The turkey, was actually intended to be displayed rather than eaten, but it made a unmissable photo opportunity. A few months later, another photographer working with US troops in Iraq, photographed a somewhat less appetising turkey meal. Ritchin’s idea was to display the two photographs together on a website, so that the official, presidential photograph was seen first, but when the cursor moved over the image, the second turkey meal was revealed. I loved this idea, but I suspect that the American media would not.
Ritchin, F. (2008) Toward a Hyperphotography. In: Ritchin (2008) After Photography. W.W. Norton: New York. pp. 140-161.
Ritchin, F. (2014). Bending the frame [online]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=541UY8jgkxU. Accessed on 27/11/2016.