WAR OF IMAGES/IMAGES OF WAR
In day to day life we are constantly bombarded with images, through television, advertisements, newspapers and the internet. As Matthew Bowman mentioned in his recent lecture, the JPEG image has become a ‘weapon’ in the war on images. Due to this influx of imagery, the shock-factor of an image is often raised so it becomes more noticeable. Take news reporting for example, manipulation is always present in some form or other and unless we do the research ourselves, we are simply fed what the people in charge want us to know/think/feel. This is when the war on images comes into play, the bigger the shock-factor, the stronger the reaction is. Artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin challenge this form of photojournalism in their book ‘War Primer 2’ (2011), an edit of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘War Primer’. War Primer 2 updates the original with images of the conflict generated by both sides of the so-called “War on Terror”. This, and other works of theirs question the glorification of war. I personally think it is important to challenge what we are shown by the mainstream media and not instantly accept everything we see as fact.
It is often difficult to avoid the torrent of news and imagery that comes at us everyday, and sometimes we need to take a step back to really see things going on around us. Artist Jon Rafman has taken a literal look around him in his collection of images ‘The Nine Eyes of Google Street View’. Rafman collates bizarre, surreal but beautiful sights captured by the nine lenses on Google Street View camera cars as they photograph scenes around the world. Again, these are just more images in a sea of millions, but something about these photographs, as well as the world of google earth, seems mystical to me. Maybe it’s being able to explore the unknown through your computer without leaving your chair. I think the fact that these images were captured in every corner of the globe, around the same time period, makes me realise just how fascinating day to day life can be. When we are surrounded by images we are distracted from whats going on outside our window. Of course it’s important to be aware of worldly matters, and we shouldn’t be ignorant to them.
In my own practice I want to explore with how photography of everyday life can influence my own work. Step 1, start carrying my camera with me.