Errol Morris on Robert Fenton's Crimea War photos
Posted 05 October 2007 - 10:39 AM
Part one. Additional resources. Part two. There will be a part three and, possibly, part four.
The OFF photo:
The ON photo:
The photo against the landscape 150 years later:
The landscape itself:
Posted 13 October 2007 - 02:21 AM
Posted 13 October 2007 - 01:05 PM
: Peter, thanks for posting this! When does part 3 come out? do you know?
No idea. I've got Morris's blog in my news feed, so I just get the updates as they come.
Posted 24 December 2007 - 04:46 AM
Posted 07 February 2008 - 11:06 PM
When I wrote about Fenton myself, here on Slate, I repeated Sontag's claim, somewhat unthinkingly, I have to admit, at least in light of Morris' vetting. He was more skeptical, and in fact he writes about 25,000 words, over three posts, about his efforts to determine the truth of the accusation. That is about three times the length of a very long magazine article, and Morris digresses a lot; he pulls in maps and charts, he delves into Ruskin, the Cuban Missile Crisis, some notes on the history of fashion; he notes the difference between the Valley of Death and the Valley of the Shadow of Death (they were apparently two distinct places); he travels to the Crimea to see the scene for himself; and he quotes, at considerable length, a series of interviews he conducted with various photography experts, curators, computer scientists, and historians. At one point he reproduces a picture of his Crimean tour guide's shoes, and I would tell you why, but I'm not quite sure myself.
Jim Lewis, Slate.com, November 1
Posted 02 September 2011 - 07:04 AM
"Before his filmmaking career took off, Morris had a day job as a detective, and he urges us, here, to read his essays “as a collection of mystery stories.” That’s easy advice to follow. As the de facto protagonist of his own book, Morris reminds me of no one so much as Sherlock Holmes, for whom private investigation was a form of practical epistemology. Like Holmes, Morris believes that truth can be revealed by impartially attending to details overlooked or misinterpreted by others. Like Holmes, he is patient, compulsive and unafraid of legwork. Of the Fenton photographs, he writes: “My hunch was that the lighting and shadows on the cannonballs might be the key to ordering” the images. “I wanted to experiment with lighting the cannonballs from various directions, replicating the directions of the sun and time of day. But first I needed an 1850s cannonball.” Off he goes to find one."