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By the beginning of the twentieth century, photography was well on its way to becoming the visual language it is today, the pervasive agent of democratic communication. Photographers used its growing influence to expose society's evils, which the prosperous, self-indulgent Belle Époque chose to ignore: the degrading conditions of workers in big-city slums, the barbarism of child labor, the terrorism of lynching, the devastation of war. Despite Alfred Stieglitz's early interest in candid or snapshot-style street photography seen in The Terminal of 1892 ( 58.577.11 ) and The Steerage of 1907 ( 33.43.419 ), he attempted to turn the page on the natural development of the documentary tradition in photography with his successful 1910 retrospective of Pictorialism at the Albright Art Museum in Buffalo, New York.
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On the evening of October 30th, 1938, radio listeners were treated to a dramatic production of HG Wells' The War of the Worlds that was so original, and so convincing, that it apparently led some to believe that beings from the Red Planet had invaded America . The notorious broadcast, performed by the Mercury Theatre, a company run by a 23-year old ingenue named Orson Welles, took the 1898 science fiction novel and turned it into an ingenious radio play. Welles' conceit was to dress the broadcast up as a regular musical programme, and have it interrupted by reports of the extraterrestrial invasion fleet touching down in New Jersey.