members of a photographic culture, we lug around a lot of psychic and emotional
baggage: the past is always with us, in the form of our photographs, which we
tell as we might a rosary, wearing them smooth with the fingering of our eyes.
Photographs are small and weightless objects in comparison with our larger possessions,
but unlike cars and TV sets and other material goods we cannot trade our photographs
in and break our attachments to them without considerable pain. It is no coincidence
that one cardinal rule in brainwashing is to remove from the victim all photographs
of himself and people he has known . . .
A. D. Coleman, Light Readings, 1979
Coleman, an art critic who regularly writes about photography, said the
snapshot is an interruption of the flow of events and of time, an interruption
whose purpose is to preserve rather than observe. (New York Times,
December 30, 1973) Non-professionals who take snapshots do it to preserve someones
image or remember an event. The snapshots are personal keepsakes, mementos of
a person or time that shouldnt be forgotten.
Carl Pope is an observer,
who has taken some aspects of snapshots and used them in his work. This scene
in a bar represents a moment that many of us could find in a family album; but
Carl Pope didnt know the woman in the picture and neither do we. What we
do notice is that all the wires from the disc jockeys equipment appear to
run right into the womans head, as if he is performing a bizarre experiment
on this poor stranger instead of spinning records. If this were your snapshot
of Aunt Sally or Cousin Bea, you might consider the picture an embarrassing accident.
But in Carl Popes hands the picture becomes an intriguing comment on the
bar scene in Carbondale, Illinois, and an observation on snapshots themselves.