Still taken from Never Look Away

A primary topic of discussion we have engaged in this class is reality, and more specifically, something that can, and has been consistently altered to serve another purpose. 

In Unit 3, we were reviewing Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others in which we connected photographs to how we as people approach the truth in the Rwandan Genocide. Sontag writes about the power photographs possess in capturing a detailed element of reality. Although photographs can capture the details of a moment, they only provide a single, limited view of the real world. Sontag argues that a photograph has the properties to carry a message which can be geared towards an audience. With a caption, a photograph attains a deeper meaning, creating a narrative that may have never been visible prima facie. In doing so, a photograph is given power capable of swaying an audience in whatever way the author wishes (for more, see my research paper). With that said, Sontag poses this question regarding: does capturing a reality truly capture the world in its realness? In Mathematics, this is the equivalent of asking if the slope of a single point on a curve defines the slope of the overall curve. It is the same to ask in Music if a few sad musical notes define the overall mood of a song.

German painter Gerhard Richter argued in an interview that a photograph is a representation of what has happened. Richter stated that photographs document a perspective of the moment as it happens, but a photograph does not capture the moment in its complete form. Therefore, a photograph is an incomplete depiction. However, Richter mentions that consistencies in reproductions of a moment, such as many photographs from different people allow someone to develop a more complete understanding of what the of an event reality was. This statement made me think of scene Kurt’s press release in which he talks about consistency in terms of understanding reality, how many photographs were used to create the October 18, 1977 series. 

As I watched Never Look Away, I was talking to a friend, discussing reality in terms of proofs in science. In science, the concept of reality is very complicated. It is possible to have an amount of consistent empirically-based evidence that can allow someone to support a claim, say gravity, with a degree of confidence; however, it is impossible to scientifically prove that gravity exists since this would argue that a claim is absolutely true in all possible circumstances. As humans, it is impossible to measure or calculate all variables since many are outside the bounds of our understanding. Due to the inability to predict every event, there is always room for a claim to be disproven––in which our case with gravity could be considered false. As a result, theories follow a model that allows for experiments to be replicated; therefore, allowing consistency in the data for people to be convinced and accept a claim as reality. In science, the best theories are the ones that last the longest and cover the most ground without being disproved. Theories work well in science because they are capable of describing the world and humanity: dynamic and ever-changing, basing its claims on consistencies and patterns wherever we go. The same is said with understanding society and people. The more you read and research something, the better of a grasp you will have on the complete truth. Every reality is consistent.