Thursday, 17 January 2013



  • notions of censorship and truth
  • the indexical qualities of photography in rendering truth
  • photographic manipulation and the documentation of truth
  • censorship in advertising
  • censorship in art and photography
The camera never lies
Ansel Adams - Moonrise Hernandes New Mexico, c. 1941 - 2
iconic, quality or common
Moon over half dome, 1960
Aspens - manipulation in dark room alters what shows


  • real life events
  • propaganda 
  • photographer renders the truth 
  • is it true? does it matter?
  • people being removed from photographs 
‘Five years before coming to power in the 1917 October revolution, the Soviets established the newspaper Pravda. For more than seven Decades,until the fall of Communism, Pravda, which Ironically means “truth”, served the Soviet Communist party by censoring and filtering the news presented to Russian and Eastern Europeans’ 
Stalin with, and without, Nikolai Yezhov    
Stalin with, and without, Trotsky    
Robert Capa - not real name or real image. Staging an image
Death of a Loyalist Soldier, 1936    

‘At that time [World War II], I fervently believed just about everything I was exposed to in school and in the media. For example, I knew that all Germans were evil and that all Japanese were sneaky and treacherous, while all white Americans were clean-cut, honest, fair-minded, and trusting’   
Elliot Aronson in Pratkanis and Aronson, (1992), Age of Propaganda, p. xii

‘With lively step, breasting the wind, clenching their rifles, they ran down the slope covered with thick stubble. Suddenly their soaring was interrupted, a bullet whistled - a fratricidal bullet - and their blood was drunk by their native soil’ – caption accompanying the photograph in Vue magazine 

Persuasion - ‘a deliberate and successful attempt by one person to get another person by appeals to reason to freely accept beliefs, attitudes, values, intentions, or actions’.  
-Tom L. Beauchamp, Manipulative Advertising, 1984

‘Abstraction today is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or relativity: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it.  Henceforth it is the map that precedes the territory – precession of simulacra’
-Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulations, 1981, in Poster, M. (ed.) (1988), Jean Baudrillard: Selected Writings, Cambridge, Polity Press, page 169 

The practice or policy of censoring films, letters, or publications 

A person authorised to examine films, letters, or publications, in order to ban or cut anything considered obscene or objectionable
To ban or cut portions of (a film, letter or publication) 

Principles of behaviour in accordance with standards of right and wrong

A code of behaviour, especially of a particular group, profession or individual.
The moral fitness of a decision, course of action etc. 
The study of the moral value of human conduct.

‘Suppose that a picture of a young woman inserting a chocolate bar into her mouth makes one person think of fellatio, but someone else says that this meaning says more about the observer than it does the picture. This kind of dispute, with its assumption that meaning resides in a text quite independently of individual and group preconceptions, is depressingly common in discussions on advertising as the picture does not in fact depict fellatio, but something else, what the dispute comes down to is whether everyone, a substantial number of people, a few obsessed individuals, or one particular person, understand it this way. Without an opinion poll, the dispute is unresolvable, but it is really quite improbable that such an interpretation will
be individual’

Cook, G. (1992), The Discourse of Cadbury’s Flake, 1982
Advertising, London, Routledge 

  • sexual aspects 
  • suggestive
  • does it say more about the individual than the advert?
Opium advertisement, photographer Stephen Meisel, 2000    
Christopher Graham, ASA director general, said: "This was the most complained about advertisement in the last five years. As a poster it clearly caused serious and widespread offence." He said it was sexually suggestive and likely to cause "serious or widespread offence" thereby breaking the British codes of advertising and sales promotion. 


Amy Adler – The Folly of Defining ‘Serious’ Art
• Professor of Law at New York University
• ‘an irreconcilable conflict between legal rules and artistic practice’
• The requirement that protected artworks have ‘serious artistic value’ is the very thing contemporary art and postmodernism itself attempt to defy 

The Miller Test, 1973
• Asks three questions to determine whether a given work should be labelled ‘obscene’, and hence denied constitutional protection: 

-Whether ‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest
-Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct
-Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value 

Obscenity Law
• ‘To protect art whilst prohibiting trash’
• ‘The dividing line between speech and non-speech’
• ‘The dividing line between prison and freedom’ 


Just how much should we believe the ‘truth’ represented in the media?
• And should we be protected from it?
• Is the manipulation of the truth fair game in a Capitalist, consumer society?
• Should art sit outside of censorship laws exercised in other disciplines?
• Who should be protected, artist, viewer, or subject? 

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