This image is a good example of how some art is transformed by the knowedge we bring to it. Although, I guess all things are transformed by the knowedge we bring to them. Sometimes this enhances our apppreciation, sometimes it deadens experience e.g. we often “stop seing” the things around us because they have become too familiar, we come to imagine them to be what they are not – most people, for example, when asked to draw a tree, will paint the trunk brown, despite this only sometimes being the reality.
In this photograph, however, what we know changes our view of the photograph in a powerful way. It is, on the face of it, a picture of a man and a boy and, as such, we bring to it certain aesthetic appreciation, our experience of fatherhood, our own childhood etc.
Now look at the photograph again. Its title is “Retarded Boy.” What new levels of emotion and appreciation does this now provoke?