Category: Faces

Objectively speaking, this Henry Grant photograph leaves out the most socially significant elements: faces and TV images. The children are looking away, and the object that holds them captive – the television show – is not visible. We see the children gaze at something, infer that they are watching a program, but we end up seeing what they are not seeing – the absence of images on the screen. Despite these social omissions, there is no sense that the photograph is missing something important, or that it is incomplete. It is an image of an activity: of an “uninterrupted flow of the moment” that Henry Grant always aimed to capture. You might find this result paradoxical: moments, events, or happenings are defined by the participating objects, and when we are not shown the objects, the event will get obscured. This image proves otherwise. It is by putting the significant elements of the event out of sight that the photographer enables the core of the event – the moment – to emerge most clearly .

Henry Grant. Children watching television. 1953.

Television

A Ringwraith from The Lord of the Rings. There is an obvious resemblance between this image and the previous image I’ve posted. Their contexts, however, are different and I wonder if that affects our experiences. In the previous image, we know that the model’s face is rendered invisible to us due to lighting effects. The Ringwraiths’ bodies, on the other hand, have faded and can’t be seen in any lighting. Does this knowledge alter our experiences? I’m also curious about how specific our experiences are. Are we aware of absence of a female or a male face when we see these images? Or are our experiences indifferent to that?

Face of the Invisible

This picture is from a fashion shoot photographed by Armin Morbach for a German fashion magazine. The model’s face is visible in all the preceding pictures, making its absence in the final picture striking. When I first saw this photo, I immediately thought of the Nazgûl from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The Nazgûl, or the Ringwraiths, are Sauron’s immortal King-servants whose physical form faded with time and became invisible to humans. I wonder if we experience absences of their faces differently than absence of the model’s face since we know that the Ringwraith’s faces are never visible. Image of the invisible Riders coming soon.

Face