Can You Spot the Crime In These Photos?

Hans Aarsman is one of our favorite thinkers on photography. Last year, we linked to a talk of his in which he explains why he left behind a successful career as a landscape photographer to pursue a more “useful” photography. He offers a very non-standard way of thinking about photography, which leaves the medium open to a wide range of interpreations. Recently, he’s introduced another example of left-field photography on the Field-Eye blog. It’s a series of images from a 1937 British publication called “Photocrimes.” (Aarsman says that copies of the boook are still available online, for cheap.) The idea of the game is simple: there’s a crime explained through a series of photos, you’re the detective, and it’s up to you to solve the case:

Try your luck solving these mysteries in the video here; you’ll probably want to pause them to look at each image more carefully. While there’s no small amount of pleasure in trying to crack the case, at the same time, “Photocrimes” is a reminder that there are many different ways to look at photographs. When you’re looking at these photos, you’re not expecting them to show you something “beautiful” or “thought-provoking,” or even to provide you with any information, at least outside of the entirely fictional world they inhabit. “Photocrimes” may be a game, but it shows how far the applications of photographs can go.