I do not remember which philosopher coined this phrase, but he stuck with me from a vocational school teacher whom I did not like at all. Because he talked without thinking. But this quote he has given on the way and since then it accompanies me. Because it asks to question.
To question whether what I am saying is really an opinion I have formed myself. And under what circumstances just these supposedly my opinion has arisen.
So is the statement of the philosopher (was it Immanuel Kant?) more relevant than ever. Everywhere we encounter influences that want to shape our opinion. Be it in the commercialization, be it in supposed politics, or in social interaction.
The goal is the same, only the media are very different. Opinions are conveyed through music, through language, through melody, through writings and texts, likes and asterisks, and through images. Images become imprinted, get stuck and are associated with certain situations.
When I wrote and photographed for regional newspapers in my part-time beginnings, I got into a serious accident. In vain I tried to save the family man. When I encounter a green Passat Coupé from the same year of construction, well over 20 years after the accident, I remember exactly this wreck, the blood stains, the desperate mother with the boy, which I subsequently tried in my Bulli to comfort. The images have settled in me, so to speak, and are reactivated at the mere sight of a vehicle of the same type, although these vehicles have absolutely nothing to do with the accident.
And this is precisely where the manipulation, the socio-cultural determinant, begins. What seems to be an opinion of its own is firmly established in supposed knowledge. Completely free of evidence. In my case, it was a gruesome accident, the picture is spontaneous and unplanned. But such images are also used purposefully to influence us.
What does this have to do with the image of the police vehicles?
Two emergency vehicles come from opposite directions. In other words, all available vehicles are called up.
They stand in front of each other: So highest urgency. The police must have braked sharply in order to get used. There was no time for proper parking or closing the window. My pulse is rising. My breathing gets shorter.
The picture is dynamic. The Mercedes is in the right first third and occupies the top two thirds. The Passat the left two-thirds and the lower third. A kind of golden section. The slightly oblique perspective provides for perceived movement, the low point for a demonstrated dominance and robust strength of the police. As you look at the picture, my eyes wander from right to left.
I’m in the middle of it. The Passat came to a stop right next to me. The Mercedes came up to me. Something must have happened that is bigger than me. My heart is beating faster. Rampage? Stabbing? Shoot-out? Bank robbery? Accident? Foreigners? Attack? Rocker?
I could ask myself at this point, what has triggered the image in me to view the article.
An example of targeted images
I can transfer the picture shown above to many other examples – in advertising, in mood or opinion. Right here I could stop now. Propaganda? Opinion making? Is this the opinion of a mood? That would be at least risky, sometimes even dangerous. Because the opinion turns into alleged knowledge and is transported in natural excitement as soon as possible, although it is based only on a feeling. And everyone who knows me will be affected because I am affected. The more people feel affected by my sharing of feelings, the more affected I am. My pulse stays up.
If I look at pictures, it is worth questioning what is meant by such a picture. Does the content fit with a type of source that publishes only those types of images? What is the focus of the pointing? Does the image awaken good or bad emotions in me – empathy or hate? Does the picture somehow create an emotional dependence or a compulsion? Does the picture want to upset me, to fool me? A wrong fact? Or does it inform about a really real event?
Above all, philosophizing means thinking! Both for the image creator and for the viewer. Billions of images are created without thinking. And the internet is extremely congested. The consumption of motifs as well as images seems to turn off the thinking of both the photographer and the viewer.
But if the image-maker thinks, he will transport them together with the picture like an invisible signature. The consumer of such images has the responsibility to decode the message of the image. And to think for herself how she influences his own opinion and emotions in a certain direction.
What about the police cars now?
What would I like to have these pictures transport? Bustle? Excitement? Tension?
There were just two parked vehicles of four relaxed-looking police in front of the police station in Flensburg.
Disappointed? But that’s good. And maybe an incentive to deceive the next picture yourself. To save yourself and others a disappointment.