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HomeContentsCommentaries > Colin Westerbeck: Photo Synthesis

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Tim HawkinsonOctopus
Cindy ShermanUntitled Film Still #82
Robert Glenn KetchumLakeshore in Morning Fog
Abelardo MorellCamera Obscura Image of the Grand Tetons in Resort Room, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
John SanchezRachel Rosenthal, Artist
Mitch EpsteinBuena Vista, Colorado
Leland RiceVolkswagen With Figure
Catherine WagnerThe Lamps of 1900
Ned SloaneTelephone Pole Piece, Los Angeles: Photograph of Kim Jones
Andrew Freeman#3.4.04- Don Becker's Garage & Guesthouse, Independence, California N36O.48.229 - W118O.11.620
Ken Gonzales-DayFranklin Avenue (1920)
Jo Ann CallisMan in Tie
Bruce NaumanBurning Small Fires (Artist Book)
Annie LeibovitzScarlett Johansson, Chateau Marmont, West Hollywood
David MaiselOblivion 1382-52p
Gilbert B. WeingourtTimothy Leary
Richard MisrachUntitled (Ocotillo)
Edward SteichenSylvia Sidney, Hollywood
Ruben OchoaFwy Wall Extraction
Hunter S. Thompson and othersFrom "Gonzo"
Henry WesselLas Vegas No. 15
James FeeEpiphany
John BaldessariFace (with Red Nose): Plus Four Alternate Noses
Anthony HernandezEverything #2
Ansel AdamsGraduation dress
Loretta AyeroffMountain View, Edris Drive
Grant MudfordWalt Disney Concert Hall, Under Construction #7
Frederick SommerStendhal
Tina ModottiInterior of the Church Tower at Tepotzotlan
Henri Cartier-BressonMexico City
Irving PennHell's Angels, San Francisco
William DassonvilleFrom Glacier Point
Christina FernandezFashion International
Mark LaitaAir Traffic Controller, Todd Phipps, Palmdale, California, May 5, 2006
Juggler, Sergey Gripkov, Los Angeles, February 21, 2000
Mark WyseUntitled Landscape
U.S. Air Force 1352nd Photographic Group, Lookout Mountain StationSugar, 1.2 Kilotons, Nevada
Julius ShulmanVon Sternberg Residence, Northridge
Joaquin TrujilloAmy, Los Ninos
Robert HeineckenShiva Manifesting as a Single Mother
Han NguyenTsunami
Melanie EinzigBikram Yoga Instructor, North Beach, San Francisco
John Patrick SalisburyUntitled No. 134
Karen HalversonGamble House Entry
Bill Owens4th of July Parade, Pleasanton, California
Catherine OpieMy Studio, Suzanne's Work
Eliot PorterReflections in Pool, Escalante River, Utah
Adam BartosLos Angeles
Stan HondaFrom the Heart Mountain Barracks Project
Hiromu KiraThe Thinker
Jeff MermelsteinYosemite National Park, California
Lewis BaltzWest Wall, Unoccupied Industrial Structure, 20 Airway Drive, Costa Mesa
Dennis HopperRobert Irwin
Hansel Mieth and Otto HagelS.F. Water Front
Edward BurtynskyOxford Tire Pile #8, Westley, California
Beahan & McPheeAlmond Trees and Flood Irrigation, Oakdale
Larry SultanBoxers, Mission Hills
Isabel GomesBlue Horizon, Santa Rosa Island
Edward WestonCabbage Leaf
Anthony FriedkinOffshore Winds, Zuma Beach
Richard LongDonner Pass Circle: Along a 20 Day Walk from Ebbetts Pass to the North Fork Feather River Sierra Nevada California 2005
John SwopeDorothy McGuire, Beverly Hills
Hans-Christian SchinkLA Night #1
Herve FriendRedlands From Smiley Hill
Joel SternfeldQueen of the Prom, the Range Nightclub, Slab City, California
   
Standard
  
  
Ken Gonzales-Day 
Franklin Avenue (1920) 
2004 
  
© 2004, Ken Gonzales-Day 
  
 
LL/17839 
  
Photo Synthesis
Colin Westerbeck
 
Ken Gonzales-Day's book "Lynching in the West: 1850-1935" was published by Duke University Press in 2006.
 
My hardest project ever was curating an exhibition of lynching photographs. Not only were the pictures horrific, but I felt that in some ghoulish way I was serving their original purpose, which was to thrill viewers with these outrages. By 1908, lynching photographs were so plentiful that the government banned postcards of them from the mail.
 
In his alteration of the postcard seen here, Ken Gonzales-Day found a brilliant solution to my quandary. He digitally removed the three victims of this 1920 Santa Rosa lynching, thus forestalling that frisson of self-righteousness modern viewers feel when shown the barbarity of the past. The only telltale imagery that the picture contains, on the lower left, is a shred of the shirt that the mob tore from the one Latino victim's back before stringing him up.
 
Gonzales-Day's intervention does more than spoil the privilege we feel in being able to view such events from a safe historical distance. It implicates us in their erasure from history. (The author tells us that the shirtless victim had "the ignoble distinction of being the last Latino lynched in California.") A long-buried past as gruesome as this will never truly be laid to rest
 
[Originally published in West Magazine : March 4, 2007, p.11] 
 
 
  
 
  
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