There’s been a few parallels drawn between cameras and guns recently.

Gizmodo reflected upon new laws that would suggest that to wield a camera is to act as a dissident and warrant attention from the police. Carlos Miller continues to collate “interactions” between photographers and law or security enforcement.

Fred Ritchin picked up on this drawing parallel between the Wikileaks video of the Iraq helicopter assault and the photographing of on duty police officers, “the former is certainly prohibited by law, and the latter is now also prohibited by law in some states. Both issues relate to the conduct of military/police forces and the inability of people to publish imagery that may point to excesses.”

Susan Sontag usually crops up when one discusses the violence of photography. Whether or not Sontag was the first to coin this notion I don’t know. I do know her writing about quite complex things can be beautiful, clear and accessible so perhaps she deserves recognition for simplifying and readying the idea that photography can be/is aggressive.

On the other hand, David Goldblatt – as Fred Ritchin argues – was a dispassionate practitioner who shied away from such comparisons.

Goldblatt, “I said that the camera was not a machine-gun and that photographers shouldn’t confuse their response to the politics of the country with their role as photographers.”

Goldblatt was not a dispassionate man, but a photographer who maintained a distance, developed his own language and avoided many of the frightful images that, for example, the Bang Bang Club produced for the world’s media.

Shoot! Rencontres d’Arles

In light of these recent commentaries, this exhibition review in The Guardian (originally in Le Monde) caught my attention:

In Shoot! Clément Chéroux, a curator at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, returns to a once popular fairground attraction. When it first appeared in the 1920s, target-shooting enthusiasts could take home as a prize a photo of themselves in action. When the bullet hit the bull’s-eye, a portrait was taken automatically. By the 1970s the attraction had disappeared, but there is no nostalgia here. “I’m not paying tribute to a vanished process,” says Chéroux. “What interests me is its metaphorical side. […] Of the 60 or so exhibitions at this year’s Rencontres d’Arles  the most successful and original is certainly the one on the photographic shooting gallery.

With work from Patrick Zachmann, Christian Marclay, Martin Becka, Rudolf Steiner and Erik Kessels the exhibition is a varied interpretation of camera and gun, or in the majority of these cases, camera and rifle. Looks like a unique and winsome show. More here and here.