Thursday, August 18, 2005

Photographing History

We saw two very interesting documentaries over the last week or so.

The first was on Frank Hurley - an early Australian photographer - and the second on the Russian Filmmaker, Roman Karmen.

Both manipulated history (particularly during conflicts) to political ends using the tools available to them.

Hurley was renowned for compositing multiple images to communicate the 'feeling' he experienced at a particular moment. This could be as simple as substituting the more dramatic sky through to very complex operettas involving dive bombing planes, explosions and much, much more.

Karmen used dramatic techniques more associated with story-telling than journalism to create a similar effect. This involved innovative (for the time) ideas of editing, POV and re-enactments.

Both were experts in Propaganda and had immense resources to hand at particular stages of their careers -- ie. having whole battalions to re-enact a scene for purely pictorial reasons.

There is a really interesting balancing between journalism, editorial and artworks. Some of Hurley's work was intensely beautiful, real or otherwise and Karmen's films are often literally moving photographs.