Crime, seen: a history of photographing atrocities

Within the context of an ambitious exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery in London, Burden of Proof: The Construction of Visual Evidence, the film is doubly illuminating not only for what it shows, but for the ways in which the filmed evidence was created and presented. The filmmakers followed a set of specific instructions – “several photos should be taken of each body”, for instance, and they had to be taken “as close as possible” in order to “show, within the limits of the photograph, the entire body”. Alongside each image, detailed information had to be provided about the location, date, quality of film stock used and a written description of what had been filmed. For an image, whether moving or still, to work as evidence at Nuremberg, it needed to be forensic in descriptions of detail and context.

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