By now you have seen this photograph a dozen times, one of hundreds of visual artifacts for a tragedy that played out in a horrifyingly visual manner — on screens, through footage, in pictures.The Boston Globe posted it last Monday afternoon, and by that evening it had been retweeted 2,300 times. The runner was identified: Bill Iffrig, 78, a grandfather and retired mason from Lake Stevens, Wash., who later told CNN how the shock waves had made his legs “jitter.”His identity almost didn’t matter. He was simply the Fallen Runner.
A week after the Boston Marathon bombing, we are collectively composing the first draft of history. We curate the images that will come to represent this week: A pair of grainy stills from a department store surveillance camera. Newsreel of police officers, swarming a Boston suburb in the middle of the night. Newsreel of police officers, cheered by the city. Endless online galleries prefaced with, “Warning: Graphic.”
We do this again and again — during wars, after assassinations. Chaos is organized into pixels, frenzy is made still and twodimensional. We catalogue and remember.