Photographs from the LAPD archive
This book of photographic archives on a morbid subject turns out to be, as well as a sociological archive, an illustration of the murky world of police novels and films noirs of Hollywood circa 1930 to 1950.
With a cover combining black and white with blood red, the use of typewriter font in the style of police report, the book invites the reader into the aesthetics of film noirs. It distils a romantic idea of the city Los Angeles in that era; a mix of glamour, mystery and sleazy.
The quality of the photos – through composition, light, the elegance of people and cars, the architecture and interior design – creates a retro cinematographic atmosphere. This distance with the reality of the pictures enables the reader to admire them for their sheer artistic beauty. Could the key to the investigation be there right in front of our eyes?
These crime scenes may inspire curiosity, the fear of violence and solitude or a feeling of frustration over the unsolved crimes, but they are also a historical introduction to the mythical LAPD.
Accompanying the images are a foreword by James Ellroy (novelist) a specialist of these dark ambiances, and an edifying reflection by Tim B. Wride (Curator of the photography section of the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts) on our perception of these pictures: originally taken to objectively document a place and a time, but of which we make an artistic and therefore subjective analysis today.