26 May 2005

A thousand words

BAGnewsNotes does some fascinating close readings of news photos. Here's a taste of the style.
So, the obvious question is: Why would you put an image of the President waving from the doorway of Airforce One on Airforce One? (Especially, when you know it forms the backdrop for Mrs. Bush's trip kick-off meeting with the international press?)

(Of course, there are those of you who would answer: Why not? And, there are others who would answer: What's the big deal, anyway? If you're going to hang out with me at the BAG, however, you have to give up the notion that anything is arbitrary.)

To answer the question is to also understand why I couldn't invest much interest in the actual trip photos. The answer is that the Bush's view travel like the ugly American. Which means, the travel has little to do with where they went, whom they met, or what they might have learned, so much as that they went and were seen as having gone.

The flier shows a boy weighing a gavel in one hand and a bible in the other. In casting a skeptical eye on the gavel, he seems to be concluding that any affiliation with the judicial system (through the pursuit of public service) would put him in conflict with "higher" Christian beliefs.

As a visual allusion to the scales of justice, the poster sets up an either/or relationship between Christ and the law.

Before one can consider the logic of this dichotomy, however, the image adds another layer, implying that the ultimate judgment here belongs with the Christian public (or, to their children). Which institution is more legitimate, however, is already determined. Despite the fact the bible is likely to be heavier, the hand positioning implies that the weight of evidence comes down more strongly against the law.

Another way bias is introduced is through the use of lighting ...


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