Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
December 13, 2008

Economic Descent


As someone perpetually frustrated over the lack of variety and creativity in business images, this jumped out, especially as a counterpoint to all the charts and graphs I’ve been seeing lately.

The photo — a Reuters News Picture of the Year — was taken last month in Tokyo’s downtown business district. The photographer paired it with a caption describing how Japan had entered its first recession in seven years, brought on by the crumbling of third-quarter exports.

Honestly, I’m not sure how to read this, but it did trouble me in terms of the potential length of a recovery.

(image: Michael Caronna/Reuters. November 17, 2008.)

  • Michael

    The background quasi-evolutionary image is now one of the handiest ways of signalling some crushing irony. The supposed ascent of something, against its actual descent. Even without the caption the image could well enough signify the burden on the downtrodden white collar class (downtrodden from the posture, class from the suit-shaped curve of the shoulder) against supposed eternal progress. That’s the way I see it right off the bat. So adding in the caption and the link to the actual downturn doesn’t change the meaning, but only makes it darker. Pretty sensational shot, though.

  • deRaketemensch


  • Wayne
  • zatopa

    As an artwork, this looks like a brilliant use of that particular glass material — the kind with the polarized frost effect, such that you can see through the glass from a perpendicular angle, but it appears increasingly opaque the more oblique your viewing angle is. On the street, walking past the window, the viewer would be able to visually pair up with the stages of evolution, one at a time — whether moving forwards or backwards.
    As a photograph, equally compelling. We can’t really see what’s behind us anymore, and the future is entirely vague. Our forebears are looking straight ahead in their march; our eyes are on the street, and in the real world, it is impossible to tell what the distant future will bring to our children, or even how we’re going to get through the next phase ourselves. The legend of evolution as endless moving-on-up no longer maps our experience.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes