The haunting power of old photographs
But how much meaning can a photograph hold? How much depth is there in these flat renderings of silver and black that happened to be caught on ancient chemically prepared plates and preserved? Inexhaustible meaning and daunting depth, it turns out, when you know how to look and how to show these historic pictures.
The civil war is full of jaw-dropping images. It becomes hallucinatory, a deathly journey into the heart of the battle: you are there. Photographs, this film revealed to me, are not cold relics of forgotten light; they are landscapes that you can explore as if they were three-dimensional spaces. The civil war is still happening, and will continue to happen for as long as these shadowy imprints survive. This is also true of the pictures of our own time. A photograph is a world frozen, that imagination can warm into life.