CHAPTER 8 - GO VIRAL OR GO HOME
"Extra! extra! A viral iconic image's awarded a prestigious prize!"
We all know what a viral image is, as for iconic Webster says: "widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence."
But since when Viral is identical to Iconic?
People are so untrained to the social media tsunami, taken by surprise, asked for instant reaction. All stages of thoughtful behaviour have been burnt down to a few finger slides and taps. Similarly, assessing and evaluating have been severely compromised by the push algorithms suggesting you that what is liked, shared and heavily commented, by definition, worths looking at!
Should we now add a new semiotic category to photography? Indexical, iconic, symbolic ... viral? If the only criterion for one image to be consecrated is its viralability, then crutches in the form of captions/words are more than necessary. And so pictures become irreversibly mute, since words speak louder than images.
Naturally there are powerful indexical images that become iconic through their resistance in time and under repetitive reading. Then the road to symbolic is brief. They usually represent ideas, without captions and without necessarily referring to a certain reality other than the one created by the perceptual anxieties of the viewer.
To conclude, imagine Robert Capa's Spanish soldier iconic image needing words to obtain a permanent meaning. Words like "the captivating picture of the aftermath of a Turkish assassin's killing of Spain's iconic soldier in battle".
To be cont'd
NB: The pictures featuring here won't be in the book. I only wish I could have been the author. Instead, they reflect quite well my thoughts and this makes them extraordinary in my eyes. I am grateful to all those who give me the opportunity to see also through theirs.
Michail Moscholios - Photo by Mihai Ciama