This week, one of the most striking of these images I have observed has been Israel’s first moon mission spacecraft sending back a selfie of the earth.
This image for me summarises some interesting debates within modern photography. Firstly it was taken by a machine, remotely controlled from the earth. Never a more perfect example of the ‘photographer’ being very much absent.
The composition of the image champions Israel’s achievements as a space exploration innovator and gives us a modern view of the earth as seen from the craft’s journey to the moon.
However, it also carries with it a hidden political message. That being how all of humanity is now developing the ability to travel to the stars. No longer is this the sole domain of the USA or Russia. I feel this is an issue worth celebrating.
I am very much drawn to the presence of this image. Its context shows the earth, part of the apparatus that transports it and it puts the viewer into the perspective of being out of this world.
The image, however, is also very lonely. It shows the isolation of the rover in terms of its distance from human contact and thus isolates the ‘photographer’ from the rest of the society.
This ‘isolation’ of the photographer is something that resonates with me, as more often than not, the photographer is always hidden from view out of reach of the subject in front of the lens.
This image of the earth is natural but it does have constructed elements – in that it is also carrying a positive political message. This has been done through the clear branding and ownership of the image. It is very much a record of achievement as much as it is a celebration of human achievement. It also pushes the realms of photography further into the world of machine and AI.
The question is, how long until photographers themselves are absent from behind the camera?
- Figure 1 – SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). 2019. [Photograph] (image source)