Friday, 5 November 2010
The advent of digital photography has relieved photography of its burden of evidential truth telling. Before digitalisation and Photoshop a manipulated photo was, we felt, a fraud whereby enemies of the state might be wiped from history. The small case we brought out of Hungary also contained some of my mother’s hand coloured photographs. I remember watching my mother working with half a razor blade and tiny tubes of photo oils mixed in a saucer. I couldn’t quite tell – still can’t - where she drew the line between evidential truth and embellishment, between document and lies. And yet I only had to look at her face. She generally wore make-up. Her lipstick was scarlet and she blackened a beauty spot on her face. She was considered rather beautiful partly as a result of these embellishments, so when she relieved a pair of photographed eyes of their bags, or rouged a pair of cheeks into faintly mortuary bloom it was no more than she would have done for herself. She did it for us too, for her two children. We too were given mortuary cheeks.
Some more thoughts about the Hungarian photo essay.