(With a Drone) How to Shoot Auschwitz (.)(?)


There are so many questions that hang over this little project, relating in particular to memory and to the passage of time, to imaging technologies and to post-catastrophe aesthetics. You can see the clip here, produced by the BBC. Hovering in and out and over Auschwitz, the drone lends a floating quality to the camera. Dull grey, green, black, brown, brick, and white with a haunting musical score.

Too pretty? I’m not sure. To be sure, without dissonance, but also without the melodrama that a more dissonant scene and score would have provoked. Filmed in full color, the site has been given a quiet, horrid dignity. At various points in the film, the camera spins a gentle circle over a particular part of the place, as if to linger.

This is what you do with drone photography, gliding slowly through and over a physical site without getting set in a fixed point perspective. The kinetic effect speaks to memory. By way of criticism, I would have liked something more analytic, footage that lays out the larger topography of the site. In particular, I would have wanted to see the spatial relation between Auschwitz I and Birkenau, how the two camps were situated vis-à-vis each other, anatomically.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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