Paul Lukas has a typically thoughtful post on the subject of found photographs, and voyeurism.
Mr. Lukas, who is currently running a fantastic project called Permanent Record: Untold Stories from a Stash of Depression-Era Postcards, reacts here to an NYT piece about a different project that involves old mug shots.
What Finke was referring to there, whether she realized it or not, was voyeurism — the cheap thrill of getting a peek into someone else’s private affairs, the tingle we get from the public airing of something private, and the potential for shame if we’re caught looking. Voyeurism is a very specific term, because it indicts the viewer in some sense of culpability or responsibility, and it’s at the heart of what most of us find appealing about found objects.
The NYT piece failed to note the voyeurism factor, but it strikes me as dead-on correct that it’s crucial in considering the attraction to “found” photographs, whether in this mug-shot project, or in Lukas’s. Read his full post here: PERMANENT RECORD