Infrared Inauguration

An unseen force was arguably the drive that propelled Donald Trump through 2016 and the controversial, tumultuous election, that landed him in office to lead the entire country of America as its 45th President.

The aggressive force swept the nation into a populist ardour that occurred on January 20th, 2017, Inauguration Day. There to capture the happenings was Johnny Milano, in and with a similarly restrained force, infrared wavelengths.

The difficultly tied to media coverage of such high publicity events, such as inauguration day, is the fight against other photographers for best and most used image. It was this that inspired Milano to challenge the concept and think outside of the box; to use an old DLSR that he had altered to photograph infrared light.

When justifying the decision on Milano said,

I knew that to represent the weekend in a way I felt accurately represented 2016 as a whole, I needed to go further. I needed to visualise that invisible force and look beyond the reach of a traditional lens.

I chose to research and discuss Milano’s controversial images and take on such an event for this post as I feel it accurately enraptures how media coverage and events are represented and interpreted differently. Milano’s take on inauguration day can be understood through his photographs as infrared light is invisible to the human eye. Thus, the use of the filter on the pictures unites both protesters and supporters through something unseen to them both, similarly to the force of Trump’s reign.

It is possible to read Milano’s images in several ways as they are so incredibly different from any other pictures taken on this day. His innovative use of lighting reflects a change in American identity, to some this being positive, to others negative. The orange, cool undertones isolate such events took place in Washington during the day in 2017. A favourite image to demonstrate this is Milano’s photograph of a limo ablaze. The fire is highlighted by the intense orange tone, reflecting the passion and anger of protesters.

Richard Müller-Freienfels captures the essence of Milano’s vision, ‘Pictures are created to make visible what is not visible’. In conclusion and to add to Müller-Freienfels ideology and Milano’s vision, images and photographs can be interpreted in many ways depending on the individual’s context. Milano’s use of infrared light allows one to focus on something inherently different while still viewing a still of the event, allowing them to interpret it in their way, whether a supporter or a protester.

References’s interviewüller-Freienfels’s journal article: On Visual Representation: The Meaning of Pictures and Symbols

2 thoughts on “Infrared Inauguration

  1. This is a really interesting choice! You have truly highlighted the role of media in depicting such a polarised event in history. Art (and specifically, photography) is the epitome of interpretation and representation, and it’s fascinating to view this event beyond that of a traditional lens or mainstream media source. For me personally, these images have a very ominous connotation, almost reflecting the movie, The Purge. I think i would have loved to read more about how you subjectively view the images and what feelings are provoked for you. Other than that, I look forward to reading more about your #BCM110 endeavours.


  2. Your blog effectively captures how photographers across the world perceive aspects of life in various ways! This is particularly noticeable during public, historical and cultural events. Milano has moved away from traditional forms of photography, and has represented a controversial event in a complex manner. This form of interpretation highlights the differing views photographers obtain during the creation of work. However, I also believe his work offers the audience to appreciate the connotations as well. In my eyes, Milano has effectively captured the chaos, reality and aggressive nature during Inauguration Day through his individual work. The authentic and creative work highlights the opportunity for representation and interpretation within the world of photography.


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