What Images Can Do

[person_by] Frank van der Stok

January 2020

What images can do [with reversed power]: dark mark on the Titanic’s hull.
Journalist Senan Molony recently came across an amazing discovery hidden in an attic in England for more then 100 years: a collection of pictures taken of the Titanic by the shipbuilding firm before it left the shipyard. Two of these pictures show a 30-foot-long dark mark on the hull, right where the iceberg was known to have struck the ship. The mark was very likely to be caused by a coal fire in the three-story-high coal bunker on the ship. Despite numerous efforts to deal with it, nothing had been able to stop it.
In Molony’s 2017 documentary ‘Titanic: The New Evidence’, he examines the area in the coal bunker where the fire broke out: it was against one of the main bulkheads of the ship. These are watertight walls designed to keep seawater from spreading in case of a hull breach.
Another issue with the Titanic was the ship’s speed. It was running at full speed despite warnings of icebergs in the area. In order to fight the fire, the stokers had been shoveling the burning coal into furnaces to burn the fire away - nonstop for three days. As excess coal burned, the engines would work harder, generating speed. At 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg, which tore into its hull. Right after the strike the one bulkhead damaged in the fire failed and the ship began sinking rapidly after this event.
So, the hidden fire caused damage to a bulkhead. The increased speed was due to the excess burning of coal to fight the fire. The bulkhead’s failure was due to the incredible heat generated by the coal fire. If the bulkheads would have held, then all passengers would have been rescued.
Molony investigated why the ship left the port with a fire onboard. It appears the company was in financial trouble. The Titanic’s introduction had been delayed, and its sister ship had been damaged, causing more economic losses. The Titanic needed to sail on schedule or the company might have imploded.
Numerous eyewitness accounts and transcripts of the hearings conducted by the US Congress, attest to the presence of a coal fire prior to the ship's maiden voyage.

Frank van der Stok
Frank van der Stok (b. 1967) is a curator, editor, essayist and intermediary for artists and art institutions. He also works as an editor and producer of artists’ books.


Part of Studies

Thought photographTed Serios1967

Thought photograph, Ted Serios, 1967

Frank van der Stok

In this Post-Truth era, almost every photograph seems to be speculative by nature.


Explore more RR