1968 Democratic National Convention


Barton Silverman, August 29th 1968, Photograph, New York Times, New York Times Archives


                When presented with the image above, I do not imagine the location being Chicago. Berlin, Moscow, and Warsaw are all cities that emerge as far greater contenders than Chicago. A militarized barricade outside of a building does not appear in the glorified tale of American peace and prosperity. The photo brings the turmoil to our homes. This could be our city street. It questions why our government is afraid of passionate protesters. A government should embrace, not barricade. Elected officials are the people’s voice, not just their own voice.

                Silverman created a more powerful image by framing the soldier in the middle and from below, creating a position of authority in the picture. Additionally the focus of the picture is centered on the soldier which creates a blur of the details around the edges of the picture, making the eye drawn to the soldier first and foremost. Silverman shot to provoke a response by viewers. His opinion of the soldiers will be splashed across the New York Times. 


4 thoughts on “1968 Democratic National Convention”

  1. The interesting thing about what you said in your post was that you would expect this to be one of the more unstable parts of the world such as Russia or Germany. I agree. I think this picture points out the hypocrisy in the United States Government. The first amendment gives us the right to protest, and yet the government has to send in military force because it fears the masses. This picture is still pretty relevant to today as we have seen military-like force to shut down protestors in Ferguson, Missouri.

    I think the other interesting thing that Silverman does in this photo is that he shoots it so that you can barely make out the face of the soldiers. They’re portrayed as expressionless and really more a reflection of the United States rather than the soldiers themselves.

  2. I feel uncomfortable with outright agreeing with the director of this photo. Its clear that he is trying to point out the intense and possibly/probably excessive use of military to enforce society. However, like the original poster said, our eyes are being focused onto this solider, and the literal blur in this photograph is also reducing our understanding of this situation. With so much context being so aggressively removed i can’t help but feel suspicious towards the message that is being given to me. If the director is trying so hard to make me feel one way and is literally removing anything to the contrary why should i trust the director to be telling me the truth?

  3. That is a very interesting point that you made and it is very smart to question any image put in the media even if it is in support of your own opinion. However, this is a photograph and one of the most interesting parts about photographs that are used to sway people’s opinions is that they can not lie. In a painting, cartoon, or news article the creator is the middle man for the news where as in a photo there is no middle man what you see is what you get. The photographer can frame the photo differently or put more emphasis on one thing than another but in the end documentary photographers can not lie to their audience.

  4. I agree that photographers cannot lie when they are taking candid shots, but they can leave out important information. Like the comments above, the photographer has focused on the soldier in the forefront of the photograph, however the background action is blurred, which possibly could mean that the photographer was not capturing vital information on the scene.
    As for the use of soldiers at the convention, I feel that the government has a right to monitor protests. Even if the protests are peaceful, there is always a chance of violence occurring, especially if there is a large group of passionate protesters in the same vicinity. While I do not agree that police and military personnel should use violent force toward peaceful protesters, I agree that they have a right to monitor protests, in case there is an emergency.

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