I came across a photo exhibit put together by Balakov, a photographer who posts his work on Flickr, which consists of his reimaginings of very famous images from the 20th Century…as portrayed in Lego toys.
I like this one a lot because it captures my memory of the very famous shot that i’ve seen reproduced multiple times on postcards and posters. But, there is one aspect that’s missing, which i think makes this stream of historical photos revisited brilliant. Because they are Lego toys, the dangerous feat that makes the original photo so dramatic is missing. Those men dangling their legs off the steel girder suspended in the air were tempting fate, however these toys are not in harm’s way. You don’t have quite the same reaction to the successor as you do with the predecessor.
When we take a look at another photo redux of his that focuses on a much more violent moment captured on film, we can really see the effect toys as substitutes has on the overall experience of the viewer.
On February 1st, 1968, General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executed a Captain from the Viet Cong army. Eddie Adams’ photographic capture of it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1969. Balakov’s reproduction does not evoke the same vivid angst and terror of the original. While the Lego figures share the same manufactured smile, it withholds the painful grimace of the Viet Cong soldier in the original image. This is an excellent exercise in how images influence our emotions, how they tell stories, and more importantly, how they define history.
I invite you to check out the rest of the series he put up, where he also has links to the originals he is paying homage to.