Over Thanksgiving break, I visited the Yale University Art Gallery with my parents and was able to view an exhibit on John La Farge’s paintings he did during his travels in the South Seas. I made the connection to Thomson’s Victorian Street Life in that La Farge accompanied many of his paintings of Samoans with notes on the subject. This double documentation of image and notation is what I focused a lot of my midterm paper on, and so the correlation caught my attention.
It is easy to view an image and take what you will from it, however, in instances of documentation, this ethnographic notation that La Farge and Thomson both add to their images is crucial in giving the viewer a specific goal in observing their work. The textual documentation reveals much of what the image leaves unsaid.
The marrying of word and image is an ongoing project. We are experiencing it right now as we sift through our research for our final projects. The two illuminate each other and produce meaning together constantly.