I was intrigued (and somewhat alarmed...) following a recent TED talk and slide show by Taryn Simon whose aim is to show us sights that we would never normally see. NB - the TED video link below doesn't seem to run - click through to the TED site - it works there!
The video is a fascinating tour through two of Taryn's recent projects. The first, a reflection of her current website (entitled 'An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar') juxtaposes the cooling pond at a US nuclear waste storage facility, the art on the walls of the CIA headquarters, a braille edition of Playboy...
Taryn's pictures are striking enough on their own but she uses words in a way that most photographers would rarely consider. Her stories are integral to the viewing - and add meaning to otherwise indecipherable pictures. We learn that a strange ladder-like structure is, in fact, the emergence of the transatlantic telephone cables, capable of transmitting 60 million simultaneous conversations and that all white tigers in the USA have been inbred to the extent of mental retardation. Each medium is beautifully employed; together they become simply jaw-dropping.
After images from 'An American Index...', the video continues to show us a second project detailing the portraits of wrongly accused death-row inmates who were later exonerated by DNA testing. Taryn not only photographs these characters but also investigates the misappropriation of photography in their conviction.
The camera never lies? This part of her video should be compulsory viewing for law students.