Went the Day well?

B0005421 Went the day well

wellcomeimages.com

This image is actually a digital manipulation of three separate photographs.  The background is the beach at Arromanche and Mulberry Harbor.  The crosses are from the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach.  The plane is from a photograph taken much later at an air show.  This image was layered to depict World War II.  As I was going through several images, this one caught my eye.  The first thing I noticed was the title, “Went the Day well?”  This title really positions the viewer in a particular spot.  The vastness of the crosses layered on top of Arromanche creates an initial realization of how devastating that day and the war actually were.  This puts the viewer into the perspective of someone who lost someone that day.  It creates a relationship between the ones who fought and the viewer.

It is very interesting how the crosses appear solid at first but upon further examination they are in fact very transparent.  This comes with the layering of the image but also gives extra meaning.  It symbolizes how those who have fought and died will never be whole once again.  The combination of the three images provides the viewer a sense of realism that surpasses any statistic.  Even though many people lost their lives that day, it was said to be a success.  This image and title challenge that statement with the actualization of what was lost.

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2 comments

  1. I think Chris is correct with much of his analysis. Researching this image further, I found that the title “Went the day well?” is taken from a short poem written by John Maxwell Edmonds in 1918:

    Went the day well?
    We died and never knew.
    But, well or ill,
    Freedom, we died for you.

    From a sense of perspective, I think the overlapping photographs have a melding of abstraction and realism. The abstraction portion lends itself to the title and the poem where the concept of sacrifice for the greater ideal of freedom shines through in the American cemetery of white/translucent crosses. Abstraction also comes from the plane. While the plane is a standard Mark V that typical of WWII, it was from an air show years later, symbolizing the remembrance of history and the necessity of that remembrance. The realism portion comes from the crosses again, as the cemetery is a place that people can actually go to and pay their respects.

    I think it is interesting to note, that while three pictures are overlaid on each other, they don’t line up from a realistic point-of-view. The sun from the Mulberry Harbor photograph puts the sun close to the horizon, projecting a reflection onto the water (which is seen beneath the translucent crosses). The plane is quite dark, which suggests a possible shadow from the sun. However, the crosses all have shadows to the left on them, suggesting that the sun is to the left of crosses and not where the visible sun from the Harbor picture is.

    An episteme defined by Sturken and Cartwright is an accepted dominant mode of acquiring
    and organizing knowledge. The episteme here may be that we must remember and learn from our past. This reminds me of a quote by George Santayana which states “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

  2. I think that Chris is right with his analysis of this picture. As Andrew found out from further research “Went the Day Well?” is actually a poem referring to the war. It was really appealing to me to see three different pictures put into one and it shows the difference between realism and the individual pictures themselves. I think this is a very powerful piece because there are many different ways to interpret the picture. I think this a very powerful image because it is showing sunlight with a plane flying over the cemetery and then there are really apparent crosses in the beginning of the picture and then they face out as you keep looking. I think this is leaving the viewer with the ultimate question whether it was a good or bad day. The skyline with the sun and the plane may be showing that there is good to come as you keep moving past the cemetery but the individual crosses are all resembling the dead soldiers that have fought in the war. As you keep passing the cemetery the crosses start to go from an individual standpoint to a blend of crosses all together representing a larger amount of soldiers dead. I think that this is a very questionable title because it is trying to say that it was overall a good day but at the same time many soldiers had died and will never get their lives back again. While this image is abstract it provides a real sense of realism and makes the viewer look deeper into the image and think about what is really going on. I think that this was a great picture to discuss and analyze and I think that we all hit home with the main points of this image.

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