Images of Conviction: The Construction of Visual Evidence
(Paris: Xavier Barral, 2015)
I proofread the catalogue to this excellent exhibition exploring forensic photography from its inception in the nineteenth century to its contemporary uses.
Foreword by Jennifer L. Mnookin. Introduction by Diane Dufour. Text by Christian Delage, Tom Keenan, Tomasz Kizny, Luce Lebart, Anthony Petiteau, Eyal Weizman.
Images of Conviction shows, through 11 case studies, how the photographic image is constructed to become evidence. From the scientific methods developed by Alphonse Bertillon, a criminologist who worked for the Préfecture de Police de Paris in the late 19th century, to the first aerial images of the front taken by the army during World War I, to the shots allowing the victims of Stalin's Great Purge to be identified--for over 150 years photography has served as proof, testifying to crime and thus seeming to deliver truths.
In the 11 cases presented here, each one situated within its historical and political context, the question of the status of images is acutely posed. Whether it be the famous shots of the Shroud of Turin, the images of the Nuremberg trial, the skull of Josef Mengele or photos taken with cell phones recording the damage of drone strikes in Afghanistan and Israel, forensic images are now part of any police or political investigation.