Organization: Canadian Corporation for the 1967 World Exhibition
Designer: Paul Arthur + Associates Limitted
Printer: The Southham Printting Company Limited
The Camera as Witness
Reproduced here are the photographs from the international thematic exhibition produced by Expo 67, the International and Universal Exhibition held in Montreal, Canada, from 28 April 1967 to 27 October 1967. The inspiration for this exhibition was the theme of Expo, Man and his World, a theme so extensive in its implications that it cannot be exhausted by any one recounting. This theme does not imply one premise or a single process, but rather the countless facets of human life and endeavour. This exhibition was designed to show some of these facets, as recorded by photographers throughout the world; in fact, the 500 photographs of this exhibition were taken in 81 countries and regions by 272 photographers living in 49 lands. They were selected from 40,000 photographs sent to Expo by photographers, magazines, agencies and other organizations, and are presented in 49 separate sections. Each section is devoted to a topic which, it is hoped, involves an important element of man’s concern: his environment, his nature, his problems, his work, his joys and hopes.
The purpose behind the selection was not to choose the “500 best” single photographs, nor to single out groups of photographs representing various nations or the work of chosen photographers. The purpose was to select photographs which could be arranged according to the requirements of a thematic exhibition. In such an exhibition, photographs are orchestrated by an organic iterative process, whereby a photograph is considered for selection not only on the basis of its intrinsic qualities, but also for its relationship to the photographs accompanying it within a given section. During this lengthy process the photographs take on a life of their own; sometimes a group will call for the use of some photographs not previously considered, while at other times certain photographs will suggest a new and untried grouping. What gives life to the evolution of the orchestration is the continuous study of the relationship between contiguous photographs in terms of subject matter and graphic elements, so that groups of photographs are structured to make coherent visual statements. It was also during this orchestration that the 49 section topics were determined; they evolved through a correlation between aspects of Expo’s theme and the interests and concerns implicit in the work received from over a thousand photographers.
It has been estimated that well over ninety per cent of man’s information about the world is received through his eyes and, to-day, an extensive source of such information is the photograph. Although man has been making pictures for over 20,000 years, it was only with the discovery of the photographic process, some 130 years ago, that pictures assumed such prominence as a source of information. With this invention man entered a new era which has become the “age of the photograph”, in which Everyman is surrounded by photographs and almost every man makes them. Photography is the visual vernacular of our day and therefore it is an obvious medium from which to seek evidence of Man and his World. The evidence provided by the camera often supplies more information than the eye can obtain directly from reality itself. This is not only because the camera can sometimes see what the eye cannot, but also because the photograph refers to that moment, which is already a moment of the past and which may not have been witnessed by anyone except the photographer. It certainly cannot be witnessed again except through a recorded image such as a photograph; by being a fruitful witness to the present the camera becomes a most important witness to the past. This fact is recognized in the exhibition by the inclusion of a short section of historical photographs.
It has been recognized for a long time that pictures contain a large amount of information and become an effective communication medium when this information is transferred to the viewer. The photograph can contain the greatest amount of information of any picture type due to its accuracy in recording the minutest detail, and therefore it is a communication means of the highest potential. Experience shows, of course, that not all photographs have the same communicative effectiveness for a given viewer, and the reasons for this are many but not, as yet, fully understood. One thing is known, however-that sometimes photographers can find subjects or events of significance, and make photographs which are so strongly structured that they arrest the attention of the viewer and lodge themselves in his memory. Other photographers similarly affect the viewer with photographs giving some previously unnoticed dimension to the commonplaces of life. In both cases the photographers demonstrate the talent required to communicate; they transmit to others, by empathy, the significances of their visual world.
When photographers such as these produce compelling camera images, which enter and become rooted in the imagination of all who see them, they act as a bridge between the viewer of their photographs and the visible world. In this role photographers supply a photographic feedback which aids men in knowing, judging, and controlling the world in which they live and work.
If the photographs illustrated here provide a feedback which extends the breadth of the viewer’s imaginings of Man and his World, then the exhibition will have accomplished its purpose. Any credit for such success must first of all go to those photographers who took the time to select and submit photographs and who waited so patiently for their return. Credit must also go to those many people associated with photography in many parts of the world whose advice, assistance and encouragement were so essential in ensuring the support given to this exhibition and to sustaining the spirits of those associated with it.
It is not possible to list all those who made important contributions to this exhibition; nevertheless, it would be impossible to conclude without giving acknowledgement to some who gave freely of their time in a manner exceeding the most extravagant expectations. The members of the International Advisory Committee worked unceasingly to provide advice and guidance. Upon the shoulders of two members fell a burden of organizational detail which they handled with dispatch. L. Fritz Gruber untiringly followed up many matters in Europe. Beaumont Newhall represented the Committee in advising us during the final stages of making the exhibition; no statement can truly discharge our debt for his apt counsel. Norman Hall, Pictures Editor of the London Times, shared his expert experience on the many occasions it was requested; without his help the response to the exhibition would have been much less. Professor Shjgene Kanamaru, Vice- Dean of Nihon University’s College of Arts, took personal steps to help ensure a strong response from Japan. Mr. Sam Holmes of New York was unstinting in sharing his wide knowledge and his concern for excellence was a constant spur.
We are thankful that the door of the Edward Steichen Photography Center at New York’s Museum of Modern Art was always open; the Director, John Szarkowski and Grace Mayer, the Curator, contributed invaluable information on several occasions. Equally, The George Eastman House was a constant source of expert advice. Nathan Lyons, the Associate Director, gave considerable time supplying information which helped immeasurably in our search for photographs.
The recounting of the making of that unique exhibition The Family of Man was a greatly helpful contribution made by Edward Steichen and Wayne Miller.
Finally, acknowledgement of those people and organizations who helped in no way implies any responsibility for sins of commission or omission. All, however, share the responsibility for wanting this exhibition to serve man well in showing his world.
Philip J. Pocock
International Photography Exhibition
The 500 photographs in this exhibition were taken in 81 countries and regions by 272 photographers living in 49 lands.
The physical version of this product is part of the Federal identity archive.