With the recent fifth anniversary of 9/11, much has been made of this being the most documented event in history. David Friend’s book “Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11,” puts a spotlight on this onslaught of images. Friend suggests we should “take a small measure of comfort in knowing that there were thousands among us who had the poise and wherewithal to pick up cameras so that the world might witness and respond.”
Two writers I admire question Friend’s enthusiasm. In a Wall Street Journal editorial, Richard B. Woodward writes, “The proper response to the glut of information gathered by these machines seems less clear with every anniversary. Is it helpful or even healthy to re-experience a national trauma.” And in a New York Times piece, Garrison Keillor writes, “in the end the images become common and one turns to words to find the reality.”
While there isn’t much to be done to change this tidal wave of pictures, I think it is worthwhile to consider one’s role in the deluge. But perhaps this is like the wannabe parent considering overpopulation. The big picture is just too big when all you want to do is make babies.
*For more on the subject, check out Gallery Hopper