The Case of the Melting Cars
Our world is called into being by cameras. The moment, the angle, the covert misrepresentation, the persuasive lie. Nothing is certain. The photograph transforms everything.
The report is alarming. Soaring summer temperatures in Arizona have reached the point they are melting cars. The evidence is photographic: plastic bumpers and tail lights sag raggedly from black sedans and smear sun-baked asphalt. “Arizona State in anguish,” lament the posts. “It is so hot, cars are melting!”
The photograph is unaltered, the cars genuinely melted, the site truly Arizona. But the sun is uninvolved and has a solid alibi. At the time of the incident, it is on the other side of the planet. The camera angle clips the actual heat source from the frame. In the early morning hours of June 19, 2018, a three-alarm construction site fire causes 8 to 10 million dollars damage and, along the way, melts a dozen cars parked at Tucson’s University Vista Apartments across the street. The photographer of the viral photograph is unknown, but the image has lived a dozen lives. It appears as evidence that scorching weather is melting automobiles in Kuwait, in Oman, in Saudi Arabia.