Re: What's a picture?

sgf (
27 Sep 1996 04:17:54 GMT

In article <>,
Robert Long <> wrote:
>Somewhere I know I have read about someone who took a camera with him
>in visiting a so-called primative culture (in Africa??) that had never
>before been exposed to photography. When he showed pictures of their
>friends and themselves to the people who lived there, he discovered
>that they had no idea how to look at pictures and couldn't recognize
>even familiar people and objects in the prints. They had to be taught
>how to see flat pictures as a respresentation of three-dimensional
>I need to cite this experience in a book I'm working on but can no
>longer find the reference. Who wrote it--C.G. Jung? Edwin Land?
>Beaumont Newhall? I have no recollection. I've been told that this
>experience is included in a course taught at NYU, but I've been unable
>to learn which one. How does one research such a question on the

I don't know about this, but I know of something similar. In one of
Nigel Barley's books about his fieldwork experiences in Cameroon (not the
actual ethnography), a traveling movie theatre person brought some films
to the area to be seen. The older people who had never been out of the
village area had never seen one (although the younger people had traveled
a bit and had seen them before). They had no problems seeing the images,
but they had problems distinguishing the scale of things properly; one of
the films was an anti-malarial information film, and showed closeups of
mosquitos. The people agreed that yes, mosquitos that big would
certainly be a problem, but the mosquitos in the village were quite
small, as anyone could see, and couldn't be as harmful.

Whther or not Nigel Barley made this up, of course, has yet to be proven
one way or the other. From _The Innocent Anthropologist_.


( Thomas said:
> (oh, REMIND ME FREQUENTLY about your exhibit, as the days go by, please.)
so this is for him (everyone else can ignore at will):
Opening Reception: Friday, Sept 27, DUMA Gallery, 5:00--7:00