“Just as the camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a sublimated murder—a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.” Susan Sontag
Load, aim, pull the trigger, fire, reload—if you hit the bull’s-eye, you commit photographic suicide, or visual hari-kari. This a curious fairground attraction, the “shooting gallery”, emerged in the years after World War I. The playful challenge involved making the disturbing gesture of taking aim at yourself in order to win a photographic trophy. What a
peculiar fascination: making a target of one’s own ego, or—for the price of a picture—succumbing to the temptation of staging a duel with yourself as the opponent.
According to Susan Sontag, the act of taking photographs contains something predatory, something that violates the people being photographed. The photographer sees the subjects as they can never see themselves. Photographer and viewer both experience something of the person portrayed that remains obscured to that person—vulnerability, mutability, and mortality. Photography as memento mori changes individuals into ephemeral objects. At the shooting gallery, the shooter even becomes his own object, and triggers his own death.