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When people Want To Believe they often put their faith in things that float. Pie in the sky. God. Angels. Heaven. UFOs. But not everyone believes. Gustave Courbet didn’t believe in angels and wouldn’t paint them. He’d never seen one. He wanted proof. If people really want to believe in something, they find a photograph of it. A painting of a UFO is science fiction, but a photograph of a UFO is a challenge to your faith. You want to believe. A good UFO photograph has to be analog, the product of a time when people still believed that a blurry shape emerging from film grain was the truth fighting to get out. A digital UFO photo is no better than a painting. It’s not clear to me what exactly people want to believe when they look to the sky. Perhaps it’s that they might be released from the limits of gravity to experience the freedom of a bird in flight. Maybe the idea that someone cares enough to look over us is consolation to existential angst. Or maybe it’s simply the desire to transcend temporal and spatial specificity, to escape the mundane reality of day-to-day life on Earth, to float, to believe in the realm of possibilities.

© 2016 Dana Stirling Foreword (BELIEF) © 2016 Oliver Wasow The content of this book was appropriated from the New York Public Library Picture Collection UFO binder, and altered by Dana Stirling. Printed in New York, USA

Property of The New York Public Library Picture Collection