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Thread: Foxconn Suicides

  1. #1

    Foxconn Suicides

    These are from a color series I've been pursuing using the iPod pinhole camera (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/Blah.pl?m-1281711129/s-0/).

    The camera and series are a look at the rash of suicides that recently plagued the Foxconn Technology Group's main factory in Shenzen, China, where a number of young workers were jumping to their deaths from the dormitories and buildings on the compounds. The Shenzen plant is where an unbelievable volume of computer and consumer electronics parts are fabricated (including Apple iPods, iPhones, PC motherboards etc...). I have some more information on my website (below, if you're interested) or you can just Google Foxconn suicides.

    In the wake of the jumps there were many protests, and I was amazed at the disconnected aerial perspectives of some of the photos that came out on the Chinese news shows, obviously stills taken from some lo-fi camera on the balconies above the jump points. Wrapping the suicides up in the nature of the enormous corporation, and the very human nature of the tragedies, gave me a sense of being almost disembodied myself.

    Anyway, here are the first four (more in the works now):

    Attached files

  2. #2
    500+ Posts Isis's Avatar
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    Foxconn Suicides

    I'm not sure that such disturbing images should come from such a beautiful camera.

  3. #3

    Foxconn Suicides

    I find it bizarre in the extreme that a site like f295 would allow these harrowing scenes to remain up.

    Especially given the fact that even tasteful nude shots are considered unsuitable (for whatever reason).


    ?????
    :-/

  4. #4

    Foxconn Suicides

    I would like to hear what is tasteless about redeploying the fact that young people choose to jump to their deaths en masse, rather than work at a manufacturing facility that provides the world with most of its consumer electronic bits?

    Especially on a site where we have a forum populated by people who feel strongly that how things are made is so important?

    Maybe others will weigh in and run me out of town, but I'm a little surprised by your response/back-door suggestion the images be removed...

    BEN

  5. #5

    Foxconn Suicides

    Ben,

    Maybe you could make your viewpoints known more sensitively by posting your thoughts under the Lensless Thoughts section? A discussion about how and why such terrible events should happen would have been thought provoking and worthy.

    The images you posted however, ARE tasteless, morbid and completely unnecessary.

    It seems to me that if you really cared about the unfortunates who ended their lives in such a way you would have purely chosen to discuss it rather than reproduce the images here for shock value.

    Has it occurred to you that there are many people who visit this site (myself included) that have been touched by suicide? In fact touched by suicide events that replicated almost exactly the scenes you have posted up?

    You talk about being "amazed at the disconnected aerial perspectives of some of the photos..." - I should say you should be amazed at your own sense of disconnectedness if you think it's ok to publish such images on here.

    It would appear to me (having looked at your website and from how you have posted here) that you are treating what happened at that factory almost as a piece of performance art?

    I can't think that but to do so is just as exploitative an act as any action by the owners of Shenzen. God damn it you weren't even there...it's not even as if you were f295's answer to Don McCullin and captured the terrible images on your own camera, on your own film.

    And to somehow draw the conclusion that because we largely make our own cameras and bits and pieces that you think we want to see a series of young men lying bloody, broken and prostrate on the ground - well that just astounds me.

    And by the way my 'back door' suggestion was more of an upfront 'big hint' for you to have the cop-on and decency to remove the images yourself.

    I'll leave it up to your own conscience to decide what's right.

  6. #6

    Foxconn Suicides

    "It would appear to me (having looked at your website and from how you have posted here) that you are treating what happened at that factory almost as a piece of performance art?"

    seoirse is right. Social, political and economic issues aside, to try and portray this is as some form of art is just twisted. It is the kind of conceptualizing (at its worst) that I abhor. While it may speak to deplorable conditions in China, I agree it does not belong here. Yes, post in the discussions area with links to the shots and should one choose they could go take a look, but to throw them out there like this... I will be surprised if they last the day.

    I also agree with the point of not taking them yourself, but that's a whole other discussion. I mean, I could google image search for pinhole photography, pick a group that I could wax conceptual about, then post them here. Viola', art! I see no difference. Find what it is you want to say, then work on saying it in your own language, not co-opted images of events you didn't witness. Acts like suicide come with mountains of emotion. You are just as guilty of a disconnect as the images you present. I too have been touched by suicide and believe me, it is not an easy thing. Some people never get over it.

    Want to impress me? Want to make a statement? Go to China, meet the young men working in the factory, tell their story in images. Find the victims relatives, document their pain, anger and sadness. Connect with them and feel their emotion, show it to the world through your own images. Reposting splatter pics and talking in circles about them doesn't impress me - quite the opposite.

    Hell, that could be award winning stuff. If that even matters.

  7. #7
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    Foxconn Suicides

    If i want NEWS i will go to CNN or FOX not F295.

  8. #8

    Foxconn Suicides

    I believe this is precisely the forum for the discussion. The images are here. No need to move it anywhere else, and I hope more people weigh in on the issue.

    I certainly won't pull the images myself. As operator of the site, Tom Persinger can take them down at his discretion if he feels they are in violation of any board rules.

    Let's cover some of your points:

    "It seems to me that if you really cared about the unfortunates who ended their lives in such a way you would have purely chosen to discuss it rather than reproduce the images here for shock value."

    First of all, I disagree with you that the only way to express concern for tragic events is to only talk about them. For example, you'd have a difficult time telling a world of documentary photographers that what they do is tasteless and inappropriate simply because they are making images that show tragedy, as opposed to simply writing a paper about it.

    "Has it occurred to you that there are many people who visit this site (myself included) that have been touched by suicide? In fact touched by suicide events that replicated almost exactly the scenes you have posted up?"

    Yes, it has. My friend committed suicide four months ago. He cut his wrists in his bathroom. He was an addict struggling with his 12 step program, and he chose to end his life in the face of the pain. With difficulty, I was able to speak to his wife at length, and of course his absence is hard to deal with. However, my experience with his death in no way suggests to me that images of suicide are now somehow inappropriate or tasteless. If anything, they carry a bit more weight, as I have a particular emotional experience attached. If your experience with suicide suggests otherwise to you, I can respect that. You don't need to make images that approach the subject if you don't want to, and I would ask you to consider why it is important for you to try and censor somebody who did?

    "You talk about being "amazed at the disconnected aerial perspectives of some of the photos..." - I should say you should be amazed at your own sense of disconnectedness if you think it's ok to publish such images on here."

    Instead of sitting by and simply taking in news footage, I set about to recreate my own as a way of looking for a connection, and to offer another perspective on the events. If you are under the impression that the images I posted are the news photos themselves, then you've misunderstood, or have been visually tricked into thinking the scenes are real. In the end it doesn't matter, though, if I tell you those are images shot on-site at the factory in China, or staged events with HO scale railroad miniatures on my sidewalk. The point is that there are multiple levels at which the tragedy of the suicides can be accessed, and the photographic image is only one of them. In terms of pure photographic imagery, I maintain a sense of amazement that such a disembodied perspective can psychologically amount to the suggestion that I somehow don't take part in these events to begin with, and that is what I reacted to. To hang your hat on my images somehow setting out to encapsulate a terminal stance on suicide is to ignore the rest of the iceberg underwater. Hopefully, the images and camera can serve to raise more questions than they answer?

    "I can't think that but to do so is just as exploitative an act as any action by the owners of Shenzen. God damn it you weren't even there...it's not even as if you were f295's answer to Don McCullin and captured the terrible images on your own camera, on your own film."

    Those are my images, shot with my camera, on my own film, and they're made that way self-consciously. I'm looking for a visual way to suggest the link between where and how we get our high-tech products, where I fit into that equation, and what the system in its entirety can amount to; including the tragic deaths of these young workers. The slow photography approach is a conceptual part of that, because the legitimate imagery I'm otherwise offered came from a surveillance camera on top of a dormitory in China. Where's my personal connection to that? I really disagree with you that I need to be in situ to respond to something tragic in the world. I'm part of the equation, too. I may not have been a family member or a friend of the victims, but I sure own computers and an iPod. I felt like I wanted to respond to what I was seeing, and I did so in my own way. Again, if it's something you wouldn't choose to make or to address with your photography, I can respect that.

    "And to somehow draw the conclusion that because we largely make our own cameras and bits and pieces that you think we want to see a series of young men lying bloody, broken and prostrate on the ground - well that just astounds me."

    I was referring to the project as a whole, including the camera itself. Again, part of what I'm looking at is the notion that how things are made matters to us, in ways that transcend our simple avocational preferences. Of course it's not as easy as "building cameras=enjoy seeing suicides", and I would never suggest anything that preposterous.

    Hopefully that addresses some of your concerns? Certainly, I intended neither offense nor exploitation by creating those photographs. I did hope to challenge people, however, or at least offer a different perspective to think about.

  9. #9

    Foxconn Suicides

    After reading the responses after seoirse's, let me make clear that the four images in the original post are my own pinhole photographs, taken with my own pinhole camera (shown in that link).

    They are not news images of the suicide victims.

    They were not pulled from the internet and posted here as a conceptual discussion point of reference.

  10. #10

    Foxconn Suicides

    Sorry, re-reading the original post it still leads me to believe that these images are the disconnected aerial shots. Taking the closer look I was reluctant to do at first I see that is not the case, and they are indeed little plastic people.

    I still stand by what I said.

    And Dick - I omitted a large section of my first response concerning what you so eloquently wrapped up in a few words.

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