Planning a trip to an unknown destination can quickly become familiar through images found on the Internet. Images give credibility to the culture and geography that will be encountered. Images from the Victorian era depicting a culture from far away lands gave scientific evidence of the British Colonies as well as truer representation of the stories heard or paintings previously seen.
Are the photographs authentic? Was the structure of the image arranged in such a way that it restricted its true nature? I am reminded of the playwright, Susan Lori-Parks, who wrote the play Venus. Set during the same time period as the Victorian era, Parks exposes the misrepresentation of a culture that has only been seen in paintings, read about in publications, or heard through stories. What is revealed in the play is the lack of accuracy that is used to control the circumstances and make a profit.
What is the motivation of the photographs? Are they authentic? Truthful? More importantly, how do they translate to the viewer, as documentation or as a voyeuristic exploitation?