Hidden From View


With the arrival of the iPad, total shared communication takes a step closer, even though many tell us that the internet is still in its infant stage. Within my lifetime, an unimaginable amount of information has been made available to all, even though it has been accompanied by an equal weight of deceptive junk.

And yet, the things we don’t want to hear about, the stuff that won’t sell, the items better left unexamined, are quietly hidden from view. For fifty years, terrible images from World War 2 were kept under lock and key for fear of damaging public sensibilities. Henry Singer is a documentary film-maker who, like Adam Curtis, asks awkward questions about our perception of events. In 2006 he made ‘9/11: The Falling Man’, a documentary that looked at a photograph from the 9/11 catastrophe and asked why it quickly vanished from front pages, to be replaced with pictures of heroism.

The fact that the picture vanished is hardly surprising – it is human nature to want to concentrate on positive aspects of disaster – but it seems that the documentary has largely vanished too. Now only available to buy in Japan and Australia (feel free to correct me on this but I couldn’t find it anywhere else), it can at least be seen on Youtube. But in a time when it’s hard to walk 100 metres down a street without seeing an image from ‘Avatar’, why can’t more challenging material be found without having to ferret it out on obscure websites? Are we so disinterested in questioning our perceptions?

Singer’s latest documentary, ‘Murder On The Lake’, about the life and death of conservationist Joan Root, untangles another troubling, complex story. It’s on BBC4 on Monday February 1st.