Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma

Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma

by Ulrich Baer
     
 

ISBN-10: 0262524473

ISBN-13: 9780262524476

Pub. Date: 10/01/2005

Publisher: MIT Press

In this remarkable contribution to photographic criticism and psychoanalytic literature, Ulrich Baer traces the hitherto overlooked connection between the experience of trauma and the photographic image. Instead of treating trauma as a photographic "theme," Baer examines the striking parallel between those moments arrested mechanically by photography and those

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Overview

In this remarkable contribution to photographic criticism and psychoanalytic literature, Ulrich Baer traces the hitherto overlooked connection between the experience of trauma and the photographic image. Instead of treating trauma as a photographic "theme," Baer examines the striking parallel between those moments arrested mechanically by photography and those arrested experientially by the traumatized psyche -- moments that bypass normal cognition and memory. Taking as points of departure Charcot's images of hysteria and Freud's suggestion that the unconscious is structured like a camera, Baer shows how the invention of photography and the emergence of the modern category of "trauma" intersect. Drawing on recent work in the field of trauma studies, he shows how experiences that are inherently split between their occurrence and their remembrance might register in and as photographic images.

In light of contemporary discussions of recovered memories and the limits of representing such catastrophes as the
Holocaust, Baer examines photographs of artistic, medical, and historical subjects from the perspective of witnessing rather than merely viewing. He shows how historicist approaches to photography paradoxically overlook precisely those cataclysmic experiences that define our age. The photograph's apparent immunity to time is seen as a call for a future response -- a response that is prompted by the ghostly afterlife of every photograph's subject. In a moving discussion of a rare collection of color slides taken by a Nazi official in the Lodz ghetto, Baer makes us aware that it is the viewer's responsibility to account for the spectral evidence embedded in every image.

The MIT Press

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262524476
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
10/01/2005
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
218
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Introduction: Toward a Democritean Gaze1
1Photography and Hysteria: Toward a Poetics of the Flash25
2To Give Memory a Place: Contemporary Holocaust Photography and the Landscape Tradition61
3Meyer Levin's In Search/Mikael Levin's War Story: Secondary Witnessing and the Holocaust87
4Revision, Animation, Rescue: Color Photographs from the Lodz Ghetto and Dariusz Jablonski's Holocaust Documentary Fotoamator127
Conclusion179
Notes183
Index207

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