Alex Prager originally wanted to pursue a career in acting, but after seeing William Eggleston’s pictures, she turned to photography instead. Her latest work, Compulsion, is more in the style of Weegee with its morbid documentary style. Prager became interested in our collective tendency to observe instead of react to a problem. For example, when we see a wreck on the highway everyone slows down to watch but no one stops to help. After seeing tragedies depicted in the mainstream media, Prager began to investigate this idea. Prager asserts “There's a human feeling to the pictures, but the viewer doesn't feel connected to anyone in particular. I wanted the series to seem like the news articles I was reading. I didn't want it to feel like you knew the people involved. The eyes represent the emotional response. The main idea behind the title of the series was to show the spectator's compulsion to watch disaster, rather than act. We can't look away when there's an accident on the side of the freeway – everyone slows down and looks – but nobody helps. And we can all relate to that.”
|4:01, Sun Valley. And Eye #3 (House Fire)|
|2pm, Interstate 110 and Eye #6 (Sinkhole)|
The images are staged, melodramatic images of disaster or tragedy. These scene are being watched by large-scale eyes of a passive viewer. The concept behind this work is very interesting, however I feel that some images are better executed than others. Some of the created distasters are more believable than others. For example, 4:01, Sun Valley. And Eye #3 (House Fire) is more successful than 2pm, Interstate 110 and Eye #6 (Sinkhole) because of plausibility. Yes sinkholes exist but this fabricated situation just looks to photoshoped and awkward to really make me feel anything. House Fire is also obviously a fabricated, photoshoped situation, but it somehow reads better than Sinkhole. Overall, I find the series interesting but I dislike the heavily photoshoped nature of many of the images and wish the scenarios were more realistic.