pictures and individual voices

BitchPhd pointed me to Sorry Everybody, which is a fascinating site. People from around the world have submitted photos of themselves holding up signs/texts: lots of Americans saying "sorry" to the world and expressing regrets about the outcome of the election; but also photos from people in other nations saying "sorry" to Americans, in the sense of "with sympathy." There are hundreds of pictures on the site, and I find it a very powerful use of the web to try and create a sense of global community. Much more than just a text-based message board, these images of individuals underscore their written words with a sense of the real, of authenticity. As theorists of photography rarely tire of pointing out, photography creates an effect of authenticity, even when we know intellectually that the image is always the object of creative decisions, and of subconscious and/or intentional manipulation. There's also something very effective in the repetition of the simple word "sorry," and its double meaning.

Obviously, the site just collects the symbolic gestures of individuals -- I can imagine critiques of it that would argue it's ultimately ineffectual because it doesn't take the conversation any further. Yet there is something encouraging in looking into all these faces of people who share at least some points of view -- and more prominent in these photos, share some emotions. I've never seen so many pictures of people making "sad" faces. Staged, yes. But effective.