The Collective Picture

Vintage Photography Redefined

admin On April - 17 - 2009
How we depict the world around us acts like a bookmark of a cultural moment. A snap shot of a time and place and how perceptions were formed. A wonderful example of this can be found in propaganda posters. Military action has always involved a degree of selling the national sacrifices of war to the citizenry body. These images are particularly important when you contrast them with American ideals at other points in history, creating an ever evolving face of good and evil. For example the many propaganda photos identifying different nations as Allies are particularly interesting given later shifts in these views. The poster bellow that depicts China as a Friend to the U.S. is of note given the long and tumultuous relationship the U.S. has had with this nation through such turbulent years as the Cold War. These political views don’t just inform our archives but also current events that define the reality we inhabit today. By looking at the belief structures that has informed the War on terror throughout the Bush administration you can see some of the same ideas that were sold to the world in the 1940’s. One needs only to look at Bush’s use of such terminology as the Axis of Evil to see the correlation between the images posted bellow and current world views.  Another correlation to today that I found particularly note worthy is the image titled “NAZI Brutality” depicting a chained man with a sack over his head. But because I have been raised in a very different era then my grandparents generation the man with the sack over his head reminded me not of the Third Reich but rather the media images of interrogation techniques at such places as  Guantanamo Bay. The Propaganda poster associates this masked chained man with Nazi extremism but for me it brought up much more recent images of prisoners in U.S custody. Through looking at these images I think it is easier to be removed from the war mentality that bred them and see them in a more critical eye because they archive our past. Given the correlation with current ideologies and images I think that same analysis can be applied, taking the extremes that were associated with Nazism and see its correlation with other nations including the U.S. Taking such  ideas as the construction of evil ‘Japs’ and applying them to the same stereotyped images that are informing are views on the war on terror and the Middle East today. It is through an informed view of the past that current events can better be grounded, these posters provide such a visual correlation.
PropagandaNaziJapaneseMonster Propaganda posters from WWIImilitary
ww1647 43 Propaganda posters from WWIImilitary

3f05554r Propaganda posters from WWIImilitary

Edward T. Grigware. [between 1941 and 1943]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Number: LC-USZC2-5554.

Anti Japan2 Propaganda posters from WWIImilitaryww0207 03 Propaganda posters from WWIImilitary

ww0207 04 Propaganda posters from WWIImilitary

1942 U.S. Department of War information.

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