Edwin S. Shneidman, professor emeritus of thanatology, the study of the phenomena of death, died May 15 at his home in West Los Angeles. He was 91.
Last week,the opening of the Cartier Bresson exhibition at the Musuem of Modern Art made me begin to think about marrying the power of still photography to the immediacy of video.Â
Today, courtesy of Ken Kobre and his excellent site, I am introduced to the work of Liz O. Baylen, a photojournalist with The Los Angeles Times.
Baylen works with stills and audio, which, to my mind, is but one step away from video.Â In this pieces, she profiles Edwin S. Schneidman in his final days.
Schneidman, who died last year at the age of 91 was just three months from his death when this piece as made.Â Schneidman was a pioneer in the field of thanatology, the study of death.Â Thus there is a particular poigniancy in this work.
What makes this of interest to me is that the visuals of the piece are not of Schneidman, but rather on the detritis of his life; the small, seemingly insignificant details of his final days - the unplugged electric cord, the frayed edges of his books, the toaster.Â All this combines to make a far more powerful statement than an interview or a conventional story could have.Â Baylen, I think, begins to cross the line between photojournalism as journalism and as art, and perhaps begins even to touch on a kind of visual poetry.
As the LA Times does not allow embedding of their work, I will have to ask you to link to it directly. It's worth the trip