Can the camera be racist? The question is explored in an exhibition that reflects on how Polaroid built an efficient tool for South Africa´s apartheid regime to photograph and police black people. The London-based artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin spent a month in South Africa taking pictures on decades-old film that had been engineered with only white faces in mind. They used Polaroid´s vintage ID-2 camera, which had a "boost" button to increase the flash – enabling it to be used to photograph black people for the notorious passbooks, or "dompas", that allowed the state to control
Comments: Racist photographic technology, the newest frontier. The final paragraph is a hoot; imagine the horror of spending 5 minutes inside their minds.
Reply 1 - Posted by:
Pete Stone, 1/27/2013 12:31:01 AM (No. 9141573)
The author keeps jumping back and forth between Kodak and Polaroid, which are different companies, as different as GM and American Motors. I can see another possible reason for the boost button: a desire to sell Polaroid cameras and film to Black customers in the U.S. and other countries, a market segment the company was missing. As for Kodak´s changes spurred by the candy and furniture industries, the article doesn´t even say what the changes were. Was it a change in the Kodachrome and Kodacolor film formulas? Was it Ektachrome? The Polaroid camera didn´t even use Kodak film, so I fail to see a linkage between the companies. This is a very confusing article, seemingly written by a typical modern J-school graduate.
"..decades-old film that had been engineered with only white faces in mind..."
Utter tripe. Any film has given characteristics of latitude -- fitting the contrast range of the subject into the film´s parameters -- and its representation of color -- a bunch of variables here. Correct exposure was based on a theoretical reflectance of 18% gray, not skin tone. Optimizing an exposure for white or black skin is possible, perhaps with trade-offs in overall exposure.
To apply a racial motive to the creation of an effectively performing film, given its inherent limitations is just flat ugly fanning of flames. Go to hell Broomberg and Chanarin, do not pass go.
Agree with #1. Very confusing. And asking if photography is racist, IMO, laughable.
I think these photographers just wanted a theme, a "hook", to lure people to their picture exhibition.
It is no surprise to see this is in the Guardian.
As nearly as I can tell they went to Africa and photographed some plants and animals with an old Polaroid. And some native rituals with old Kodak film. And got only one picture with the old Kodak film.
Racist film?? What idiocy. Our society has collectively lost its mind. 40 years ago I had a job in a commercial photo lab after school. We printed school pictures. All of the photos were taken and the exact same exposure settings. In those days, most of the kids in the photos were white, so the printer was calibrated toward white people. Before the printer operator pressed the "print" button, she/he would position the negative and determine the race of the subject. If it was a black kid, you decreased the exposure timer by a fixed amount. Some of the more advanced printers had a programmable button to reduce the exposure by the correct amount.
Some schools were mostly black. For these jobs, the printer was calibrated for black people.
This is what is known as efficiency. the profit margins on school photos were very small, so high productivity was a must if you wanted to stay in business.
Of course, these "real world" facts are lost on the politically correct.
For anyone who has taken a photo of a person with very white skin next to a person with very dark skin and had just teeth and eyes on the black person, the answer is obviously just reality...and the limitations of photography. How stupid can we be over analyzing these things. As stupid as suspending a child for having a crude paper gun!
I´m fairly sure that the films mentioned (and all others) were manufactured with a ´midpoint´ based on the market being sold to. That would be the largest target audience. Targeting the low points of the curve at the extreme ends doesn´t sell well. Almost everything we use in real life is built that way. Lawn mower handles are just so high and are difficult for a person that is 6´ 10" or 4´ 0" to use. But selling to that group would require different handles for not much return. Think ´car seat adjustment distance´.
Can you imagine the howling if they actually had made ´´White´´ film and ´´Negro´´ (Black, Afro-American, People-of-Color) film? Smith sounds like a card-carrying member of the Society of the Perpetually Offended crowd.
I have a very hard time photographing my all-black dog - does that mean my camera´s racist?
If the author had talked to anyone with a little knowledge of photography, the racist angle would have fallen apart but I guess that wouldn´t have met the deadline. And I wouldn´t know where to begin with the writing except to say that maybe this is what graduating last in your J-school class reads like.
Trenton — An HMO that earned $1.7 billion from 2009 to 2010 by providing Medicaid coverage to 350,000 low-income and disabled New Jerseyans didn´t try very hard to detect fraudulent billing -- identifying only $1.6 million, or one-tenth of one percent in improper payouts, according to a report the Office of the State Comptroller released today. UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of New Jersey failed to hire enough investigators and train them properly, in violation of the managed care company´s contract with the state, according to the report. "With billions of tax dollars flowing through New Jersey’s Medicaid program, our state relies
Washington—"It was crazy. Beyond our control," says the manager of the King Convenience store in the 1500 block of U Street in Southeast D.C. He says a flash mob of teens stole candy, soda and other items from his store Saturday night. "Bunch of kids, more than 20 or 30, grabbed everything," he says, asking not to be identified. "They grabbed everything and then ran away from the store." An employee ran outside to try and stop some of the teens involved in the flash mob. He was confronted by one of them armed with a stick and is now
Washington - As the military begins to embrace gays and lesbians, one group feels left out: transgender troops. These men and women weren´t even a blip on the nation´s radar until former Navy SEAL Team 6 member Chris Beck revealed in a memoir released last month that he had become Kristin Beck, a woman. It´s unknown how many transgender troops are serving in the U.S. military, largely because they would get kicked out for coming out. About 700,000 Americans in a population of more than 300 million are transsexuals, according to a 2011 study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School
Three NJ Transit crew members were sent to the hospital after they tried to break up a melee on a train filled with passengers returning from a Colombian Independence Day festival, officials said today. The fight, which broke out while the train was entering the Perth Amboy Station on Sunday night, led to seven arrests and a citation, officials said. An NJ Transit engineer and two conductors were punched in the face and body. Here’s what NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said happened: At 8:35 p.m., a large group that attended the Colombian festival in Elizabeth boarded a train
Connecticut police decided against sending a hostage negotiator to the home of the Petit family on the morning they were brutally murdered, it has emerged. Jennifer Hawke-Petit was raped and strangled to death and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, were tied to their beds and died when the house in Cheshire was set alight on July 23, 2007. The girls´ father, Dr. William Petit was beaten and tied up but escaped the flames, living to see Joshua Komisarjevsky and Stephen Hayes be sentenced to death in 2011 for the murders. They were also outside the home when the
Woodbridge – The New Jersey Turnpike Authority collected $992 million in tolls last year, making it the most profitable toll road in the nation, according to the toll industry newsletter “Toll Roads News.” Second was the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which collected $781 million in tolls in 2012. The Garden State Parkway was listed sixth on the list with $402 million in toll revenue collected last year. The analysis did not include bridge and tunnel authorities, such as the Port Authority or New York’s MTA. The Turnpike’s operating expenses were $378 million and the authority had a cash flow of $614 million, according to
Richmond—A Food and Drug Administration review concludes that menthol cigarettes likely pose a greater public health risk than regular cigarettes but does not make a recommendation on whether to limit or ban the minty smokes—one of the few growth sectors of the shrinking cigarette business. (Snip) The FDA evaluation concluded that there is little evidence to suggest that menthol cigarettes are more or less toxic or contribute to more disease risk to smokers than regular cigarettes. However, there is adequate data to suggest that menthol use is likely associated with increased smoking initiation by younger people and that menthol
He is the billionaire Google boss under fire for not doing enough to protect children from internet porn. Yet today The Mail on Sunday can reveal that 58-year-old Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, does fiercely protect one thing: his own private life, which is as colorful and complex as the ever-changing ‘Google doodle,’ which pops up each time the search engine is launched. In the past few years, the unlikely sex symbol with thinning hair and pockmarked skin has embarked on a string of affairs with younger women, including a vivacious television host who dubbed him
Englewood – Gerald Marion has spent his career fighting fires, not racial injustice. The lifelong Englewood resident rose through the ranks and became the city’s second black fire chief, earning a reputation as a calm, steadfast advocate for his department who stayed out of the political fray. But Marion reached a breaking point on Saturday, when a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, during a confrontation in a gated community. The chief entered the racially charged controversy surrounding the verdict this week, when he asked the City Council to boycott businesses
Mobile, Alabama – A federal agent, posing as an immigration worker, sold authentic green cards to Mexican natives as part of a 2½-year sting that led to the indictment of 10 people, according to allegations aired in court today. Tens of thousands of dollars piled up in a Mobile bank account while Homeland Security Investigations agents traveled back and forth to Texas to meet with people looking for paperwork allowing them to work in the United States, according to federal court records. Seven of the defendants pleaded not guilty to fraud charges this afternoon. Three others are fugitives.
A man died after suffering a heart attack at Kennedy Airport after two teams of first responders failed to reach him — because their electronic ID cards couldn’t open secure doors at the newly renovated Delta terminal, The Post has learned. Precious minutes were lost due to the tragic snafu, which unfolded early Saturday when Gunseye Adekunle, 50, of New Jersey, collapsed in the $1.4 billion Terminal 4 while he was preparing to board an Arik Air flight to Nigeria, sources said. (Snip) “You had all the assets needed to keep this guy alive, but they never really had the chance
Panama has detained a North Korean-flagged ship after it was found to be carrying undeclared weapons hidden underneath sugar containers, the country´s president said. President Ricardo Martinelli said the ship, the Chong Chon Gang, was intercepted as it approached the Panama Canal from Cuba and as it was stopped the 35-man crew rioted and the captain tried to kill himself. The ´sophisticated missile equipment´, hidden in containers of brown sugar, were detected after Panamanian authorities stopped the ship, suspecting it was carrying drugs. Martinelli said the undeclared military cargo appeared to include missiles and non-conventional arms and
There have been days since her son Ezekiel was born 11 months ago that Los Angeles mom Beth Capper has gone without food to keep up her supply. One friend was arrested for stealing some. It´s not drugs or alcohol or even baby formula that has put her in such a bind. It´s diapers. "There´s no way around buying them," said Capper, a 41-year-old single mother who doesn´t work because of a disability. Across the country, mothers like Capper are facing the same predicament. According to a report published Monday in the
Conservative bloggers went wild Monday when they got wind of the Congressional Black Caucus’ suggestion that President Obama pick Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston for the post of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Rich Cooper, avid blogger for Security Debrief, responded to the news of the Jackson Lee recommendation in a post by saying, “Apparently, it is not a joke. For reasons that baffle any sense of reality, it is a serious gesture on the part of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to encourage President Obama to nominate Rep. Jackson Lee
America is in great shape energy-wise. We have more gas and oil reserves than ever before. Indeed, the United States could shortly become the world’s largest exporter of coal. Our cheaper power rates may bring energy-intensive industry back from Europe and Asia. If America’s small colleges are nearly broke and our public schools failing, nonetheless our blue-chip universities’ math, science, and engineering departments, and professional schools, remain the best in the world. (Snip)In our age, Nobel laureate, exempt Al Gore proved a fraud: the feminist who was accused of groping a woman in crazed sex-poodle fashion;
It is a small Alaskan village whose inhabitants have relied on the sea for countless generations. But within a decade, it is expected that the ocean which the village of Kivalina has so relied on will completely destroy it--creating America´s first climate change refugees. Temperatures in the Arctic region of Alaska are warming twice as fast as the rest of the U.S, causing ice to retreat, sea levels to rise and coastal erosion to increase. It is a small Alaskan village whose inhabitants have relied on the sea for countless generations. The 400 indigenous Inuit inhabitants of Kivalina, who live
President Obama has been rolling up his sleeves campaigning across the country delivering a surreal stump speech message supposedly aimed at the middle class: big government works, Obamacare is manna from heaven, the wave of recent scandals are “phony” figments of the imagination, and all economic problems are the fault of the Republicans. Conveniently, he leaves out the bankruptcy of Detroit, a city run by his own party for more than half a century. His message is so stale and unconvincing, that even The New York Times and Washington Post have noticed. Both papers, usually loyal to Obama, remarked that
Gotta figure her lead would be even bigger without Joe Miller in the field here. Her nomination for the taking? Alaska should be a top tier pick up opportunity for Senate Republicans next year…but their top choice of a candidate is Sarah Palin. 36% of GOP primary voters in the state say they’d like Palin to be their standard bearer against Mark Begich to 26% for Mead Treadwell, 15% for Dan Sullivan, and 12% for Joe Miller.
Sen. John McCain — a Democrat? There was confusion Wednesday after the Arizona Republican mistakenly strolled into President Obama’s meeting with Senate Democrats at the Capitol. The room full of Democrats — who happened to be meeting in the same room where the Senate GOP usually holds their weekly policy luncheons — erupted in applause and laughter as the former Republican presidential candidate made his entrance. As McCain, 76, walked out of the Dem-filled space, reporters pressed him as to why he stepped foot in the room.
Embattled Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner and an attorney in the Federal Election Commission’s general counsel’s office appear to have twice colluded to influence the record before the FEC’s vote in the case of a conservative non-profit organization, according to e-mails unearthed by the House Ways and Means Committee and obtained exclusively by National Review Online. The correspondence suggests the discrimination of conservative groups extended beyond the IRS and into the FEC, where an attorney from the agency’s enforcement division in at least one case sought and received tax information about the status of a conservative group,
In an interview on National Public Radio (NPR), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said her new agenda for women will give mothers access to day care so they can “earn without carrying the burden of child care.” During the interview, aired on Weekend Edition Sunday, Pelosi spoke about her newly announced agenda, which is on her website, and is titled, “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds: An Economic Agenda for Women and Families,” a plan that includes universal pre-school and access to day care for working women, and an increase in the minimum wage.
Many low-income families receive government assistance to help them purchase food and housing. Diapers are another story, a new study suggests. In what they are calling the first peer-reviewed study to quantify diaper need, Yale University researchers have found nearly a third of mothers cannot afford to purchase their infants diapers, raising health risks for not only babies but for moms who become stressed over the finances. "Notably absent from the antipoverty efforts targeting families is an essential staple for the health of children, diapers," wrote the researchers, led by Dr. Megan Smith,
The mother of Trayvon Martin said Monday that she believed Florida’s Stand Your Ground law played a role in her son’s shooting death, but she wasn’t ready to support a boycott of the state for not changing the self-defense law. “The thing about this law is I just think it assisted the person who killed my son to get away with murder,” Sybrina Fulton, the mother of the 17-year-old from Miami Gardens, said at a National Bar Association event in Miami Beach. “I think we have to change these laws so people don’t get
A group of experts advising the nation’s premier cancer research institution has recommended sweeping changes in the approach to cancer detection and treatment, including changes in the very definition of cancer and eliminating the word entirely from some common diagnoses. (Snip) The group, which includes some of the top scientists in cancer research, also suggested that many lesions detected during breast, prostate, thyroid, lung and other cancer screenings should not be called cancer at all but should instead be reclassified as IDLE conditions, which stands for “indolent lesions of