Selfies from the 9/11 Memorial

After visiting Auschwitz in June, I argued that photographing and sharing pictures of places where atrocity has happened—specifically, Auschwitz and Birkenau—was essential for recognizing and acknowledging that history.

We should keep posting—and sharing—photographs of places where horror has happened until these places inevitably disintegrate, even if the photo of such a place does not fit so neatly into a social network, where the crass language of the sharing community—“likes,” “hearts,” “selfie,” “re-gram” etc., etc., can denigrate the austerity of an image. If we use social media for only the happy or banal events in life—weddings, brunches, signs with terrible grammar—well, why bother?

The 9/11 memorial makes me reconsider that thesis, if only because it feels built to be photographed. It’s glitzy, tactile, antiseptic and commercial all at once.

“Tribute” Ads

Breaking Copy on Budweiser’s 9/11 tribute advertisement:

I’m not alone in finding this ad distasteful. Like other 9/11 anniversary spots, this one was harshly panned by commenters on Ad Age on Adweek. (“Budweiser should be ashamed,” was a typical response.)

However, some new data shows we may be wringing our hands too hard over this. Normal people—ie., people who don’t make advertising for a living—-love this stuff.

I felt the same way. Whenever an organization ties 9/11 in to their cause or product I think it’s in bad taste.

Turns out my finger is not on the pulse of the market.

Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11 Album Art

The album art is a modification of the Masatomo Kuriya photo of the second plane heading into the towers. One commenter on Nonesuch’s site calls it “the first truly despicable classical album cover that I have ever seen.”

The album won’t be released until this September, almost on the tenth anniversary of the attacks. I’ve heard that, like Different Trains, it uses audio from broadcasts and interviews for musical material. If you find the album art distasteful I don’t understand how you wouldn’t find the composition itself in poor taste.

Album art is revealed before release all the time, but here it feels like somebody is trying to manufacture a controversy for marketing, and that, I think, is in poor taste.

I remember reading about Reich’s treatment of Different Trains and the Reich Remixed project, in which he forbid the project from using Different Trains as source material. I’d think the same view would be used towards his WTC piece, as if he considers it to be at a sacred level above his other work.

Edit: Looks like they’re changing it.