Until recently, an old, deteriorated collection of no less than one million crime scene photographs rested silently in the nearly forgotten archives of the Los Angeles Police department; spanning 150 years of violence and corruption, these images were only recently discovered by the photographer Merrick Morton, who has restored and salvaged many of the images, which will be exhibited at Paramount Pictures Studios from April 25-27 by Fototeka.
The crime scene image occupies a unique place in photographic history; in her seminal text On Photography, the theorist Susan Sontag describes the medium as a means of providing evidence, proof that is often skewed, corrupted by individual biases. Sontag also proposed that the photograph necessitates complicity; when Weegee rushed to crime scenes to capture the bodies of murder victims, for example, he was partaking perhaps in the fetishistic pleasure of violence.
Morton’s collection offers new insight into the discourse between crime fighting and art; unlike someone like Weegee, the modern photographer is also a reserve officer for the LAPD. The photographs he chose to restore and exhibit embody the very human tension between revolution and curiosity, for although these images were initially used to catch and reprimand criminals, they now function to satisfy our more voyeuristic yearnings.
Without context, these bullet holes, these nude, tattooed dead bodies are entirely open to our imagination and judgment, inviting our darkest fantasies and speculation. A pair of shoes, caught (perhaps accidentally) in the corner of a forensic image, shown beside a bloody carpet and a limp hand holding a shining knife, holds deeper psychological connotations when viewed as art, as a relic of an era gone by. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)