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CAT 1: Media Seductions Questioning Authenticity Elizabeth Losh

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1 CAT 1: Media Seductions Questioning Authenticity Elizabeth Losh

2 Susan Sontag 1933-2004 On Photography (1977) and Regarding the Pain of Others (2003)

3 Why the Spanish Civil War? 1936-1939 “the first war to be witnessed (‘covered’) in the modern sense: by a corps of professional photographers at the lines of military engagement and in the towns under bombardment, whose work was immediately seen in newspapers and magazines” (21) “guaranteed the attention of many cameras because they were invested in the meaning of larger struggles” (36) “seen in a photo album or printed on rough newsprint” (120)

4 The War’s Literary and Artistic Record Virginia Woolf, Pablo Picasso, The Three Guineas Guernica

5 The Site of an Iconic Image Robert Capa’s “The Falling Soldier” (32-35, 47, 60-61, 120)

6 David Seymour or “Chim” “Land Distribution Meeting, Extremadura, Spain, 1936” (Sontag 30-31)

7 Luis Martin-Cabrera

8 Testimony and Evidence

9 Today’s Thesis Authenticity, for Sontag, becomes just one of the many superficial objections that she dismisses in defending the truth claims of photojournalism. Regarding the Pain of Others is largely a book that presents a series of counterarguments to the broad generalizations of other public intellectuals in contemporary debates about media influence who assert that dramatic images 1) tend not to be authentic, 2) aestheticize suffering, 3) invade the privacy of victims, 4) glorify graphic violence, 5) desensitize the public, or 6) render reality as a spectacle. While Sontag presents nuanced arguments against these detractors, she does so by reading remarkably few precise visual details in the complex images that she cites as evidence.

10 Immediacy and Synchronicity Pulitzer Prize winning photograph by Eddie Adams of “General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon” (Sontag 59-60)

11 Sontag 60 More upsetting is the opportunity to look at people who know that they have been condemned to die: the cache of six thousand photographs taken between 1975 and 1979 at a secret prison in a former high school in Tuol Sleng, a suburb of Phnom Penh, the killing house of more than fourteen thousand Cambodians charged with being either “intellectuals” or “counter-revolutionaries.”



14 Huỳnh Công Út / Nick Ut (57) Why is there no doubt about authenticity?


16 What Constitutes a “Staged” Photograph Joe Rosenthal’s Iwo Jima (56)

17 Images of Antietam from the studio of Mathew Brady

18 Alexander Gardner “The home of a Rebel Sharpshooter”

19 Roman Vishniac

20 Vishniac’s A Vanished World

21 John Heartfield

22 Image alteration under Stalin

23 Iranian Photoshop



26 What is more “valid”? (footnote 77) Lee Miller’s Buchenwald Guard

27 daughter of Leipzig City Council deputy mayor Dr. Lisso lying dead




31 Margaret Bourke-White


33 The Faceless Dead George Strock: Buna Beach (70)

34 The Beautiful Poor Sebastião Salgado, Migrations (78-80)

35 Here is New York (Sontag 27-29)

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