While scrolling down my Facebook feed I came across yet another BuzzFeed article, but this one didn’t seem to be purely clickbait, it was a series of photographs by Ed James. As well as feeling an immediate kinship with him as he came from the UK to America I was also interested in his images. The 10 photograph series is called ‘Murder Weapons’ and each piece shows a replica of an unusual object that was used to murder someone, below are a couple which were most thought-provoking to me:
So how do these images relate to Victorian visual culture? Well honestly I did want to write about the James photographs before I thought of a link but reading some of his comments on his own work made me draw a parallel with the Sekula image of the ears we looked at in class (below)
James said that he “wanted each object to be unusually lit and out of context to mirror the way the killers used them” and they certainly are out of context like the ears in Sekula’s analyses of anatomy. Both the James and the Sekula remove their subject from context and this choice has a startlingly similar effect to me even though one is decidedly artistic in purpose and the other intended to be practical. These images all are kind of eerie (Sekula pun intended) but somehow they are intriguing, forcing us to take their objects focus in a way we would not initially.
Ed James’ photographs also reminded me of the collection ‘No Seconds’ by the amazing photographer Henry Hargreaves which pictures the last meals of criminals who were sentenced to death. Below are a couple of examples:
So what do you think is the effect of all these incongruous images? Do you like them, do you hate them? I’m interested to hear any responses!
The series on Ed James’ website:
Henry Hargreaves ‘No Seconds’: