Monday, December 19, 2011

#353 / Believing Is Seeing

Believing Is Seeing, Observations on the Mysteries of Photography, is the title of a book by Errol Morris, which has been recently published by Penguin Press.

The book investigates the relationship between photographs and reality. In it, according to one reviewer, "Morris explores how photographs have the power to reveal and conceal, and thereby convey certain truths and frauds." Among other things, Morris "dissects notable documentary photographs, including the iconic image of the hooded man that emerged from Abu Ghraib."

The Nation magazine has recently reviewed the Morris book, and focuses on one of the key questions that the book addresses: can a photograph ever be a true depiction of an independently-existing reality, or is it inevitable that because a photographer must necessarily "pose" reality for the shot, that the picture reveals more what the photographer "believes" than what the photographer "sees?"

It's a pertinent inquiry. It's a question that goes beyond photography, too, since there is significant psychological evidence that we do, literally, "see" what we "believe" (what we think to be the truth).

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