This reading brought together a lot of different things that I am currently learning about. It was awesome watching Burnett unfold his argument and connect a range of topics from the holocaust to internet hyperlinking. I am currently taking a class on perspectives of the holocaust. In it we have watched Night and Fog and read the poetry of Primo Levi, both of which Burnett mentions. The photographs taken to document the holocaust are very important to the remembering the tragedies that happened. Without the photographs there would only be words. After seeing Night and Fog, our class discussed how much harder it was watching the cruelty and inhumane conditions of the camps than it was to read about them. We also discussed how people can still even deny such events with so much physical and photographic evidence. Burnett says ” photographs are only records if viewers agree by the convention of truth that is present”; he separates the photography and record keeping. I had never thought of a difference like that before. We take photos to capture moments and memories, they are a physical record of a time that cannot be revisited.
But what happens when photos are manipulated and edited? Are they still records or are they something else entirely? When I was younger, I used to always edit out mine and my friends blemishes in photos before posting then on facebook. It was a common courtesy. But, when I look back at the photos in many years will my memory of that time be changed, will I remember myself having that awful zit or will it reflect the edited the photo? The interpretation of the past has been mediated by the edited photo.
Burnett also mentions how photos are material for an endless number of digressions. A photo can be taken and changed simply by creating a different context for it, or editing it drastically. It can be remixed revamped and recolored any which way.