The Guardian notes that filmmaker Jean Luc Godard was quite vocal, famously refusing to use Kodak film stock in 1977 while on assignment in Mozambique because the product was “racist.” And a 2013 exhibition by London-based artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin explored the question of racism in film photography. Using Polaroid’s vintage ID2 camera and nearly 40-year-old film originally that they say was designed for white skin, the pair spent a month in South Africa photographing the countryside in an attempt to reveal the camera and film’s true intent.
The ID2 camera was used to photograph black people for the infamous passbooks, a tool of racial segregation and enforcement during the apartheid era. The ID2 has a flash boost button engineered to add 42% more light on its subjects. Its effect would result in a deliberate darkening of dark-skinned subjects. Broomberg told The Guardian that “if you exposed film for a white kid, the black kid sitting next to him would be rendered invisible except for the whites of his eyes and teeth.”
This was fascinating in one of those horrible “I have never even considered this because of my own privilege” way. I’m sort of in love with Buzzfeed Ideas (100% related to how much I love Ayesha Siddiqi) and I have to swallow aaaaaaaaall my bitchin about Buzzfeed when it first got big.