Mourning and the Power of Photography

What is it that makes images powerful and moving?

I was stopped in my tracks when I heard about the unthinkable shootings at Virginia Tech. I was stopped in my tracks again today when I saw the NBC images of Cho Seung-Hui posing with his guns prior to murdering 32 innocent people. Images like this one–of Seung-Hui with the gun to his head–certainly reinforce the power of photography and -with that- the power of life and death.

If, as the saying goes, an image is worth a thousand words, then there must be room for error in that number; for this image must somehow be worth much, much more.

My deepest sympathies and most humble thoughts extend to the victims and their families.

“What we need is a critique of visual culture that is alert to the power of images for good and evil and that is capable of discriminating the variety and historical specificity of their uses.” – W.J.T. Mitchell. Picture Theory (1994).

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