Thursday, March 14, 2013

Unwanted Present

“Unwanted Present”
Digitally Altered Image presented in Four 5x7 Prints
Eric Mistry
March 2013

Some images define more than moments; they can define an event, a life, a war. Eddie Adams shot the picture that defined the Vietnam War, the famous shot mere moments before a police chief general executing a member of the Viet Cong. The emotionally-charged image sped around the world press and earned Adams a Pulitzer Prize and a place in history. The image is widely regarded as one of the most important in history.

It is that pedigree that led me to alter this photograph into something completely different. My new image is a perversion of history, the offensiveness almost too much to handle. I wanted to explore what happens when an unquestionably serious photograph like the Adams image meets the ubiquitously whimsical red balloons. The result is a difficult to handle. Almost everyone has seen the Adams photograph, so this new image causes dissonance between what is shown and what we all know happened. By erasing the general's pistol and giving him red balloons, this image takes on a new narrative, a moment that never happened. The unreal moment now exists in the bizarre reality of the altered image.

I wanted to raise questions surrounding the sanctity of historical images. What happens when we remove key pieces (the gun in this example) and place in pieces that do not belong (the red balloons)?

In presenting this piece, I wanted to reference film in a few forms. I set up the image with four matted prints aligned vertically, like a filmstrip for a movie projector or a set of film negatives. Either way, these four frames capture a clip, a mere moment in time, moment that never existed.

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