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picture rubble / raw material
bilderschutt / rohmaterial


A project by Rainer Ganahl

http://werkstadt.mur.at/rainer_ganahl

"Picture rubble / raw material" is what it is: photographed TV-images and freeze-framed electronic footage released from news organization, media monopolies, and the Pentagon. The content of the images is the current "War on terrorism", the hunt for Bin Laden, the bombing of Afghanistan and the search for next "hit lists", pointing to Iraq and Somalia. Oftentimes, what we see "live", in "special reports" or "in depth" are bombed places in a state of rubble as well as the spin to explain, justify and speculate on this war and its measures.

Consensus for this war is at an all time high, constitutional rights are suspended, massacres and war crimes are even shown by the censored and self-censored press on TV, dissent of any kind risks being misinterpreted as "anti-American" and thereby sympathetic to "terrorism". Terrorism has become the new magic word in violent domestic and international politics.

The victorious images help to cement a view that monopolizes and streamlines public and private opinions. Simplified and stereotypical reasoning predominates, while a deeper analysis of the more complex and systemic network of political causes to the crisis remains ignored.

I will not use this as a platform to discuss my own divergent view of situation. I do so partially somewhere else (http://bbs.thing.net >> threads<< , >Discontent in ^╩<)

In this project I want to capture and freeze some of the TV-pictures and keep them as a sort of public/private war archive for future viewing. On their own, these images are fascinating: exotic landscapes and faces, stunning violence and misery, high tech and primitive military equipment and operations, veiled women, Bin Laden replays, "collateral damage", chaotic masses and protesters, brand name journalists, and regional experts (and who isn't one of those?) Some images came from the battlefield, but mostly they originate in the studios, and other settings of prime time infotainment production.

My interest lies also on the interface of these electronic/digital images. How are such images released? They are typically cleared by the Pentagon or other (self-)censoring agencies. Stories packaged and served up to our screens. The final pictures are composed of many layers of windows, scrolling texts, and fixed information mixed with the appearance of multiple logos. In fact, nearly every broadcast, front line report, "live from ^╩ (Kabul,^╩)" emission, or talk show special, has a specific name and brand awareness for itself: "A region in Conflict", "War in Afghanistan", "War on Terrorism", "Update on the Taliban", "The Hunt for Bin Laden", "Anarchy in Afghanistan", "America strikes back", "Who is Next?", "Live with Christian Amanpour", "The military campaign", "The Taliban on the Run", "Tip of the Spear" etc. with even subtitles to these titles and again sub-subtitles: CNN Newsnight, "Live", "The Fate of Saddam", "New York", "Washington" and names and authorizing functions. Next to these fixed titles, main network logo and the logo of the current program, we also get generic news headliness scrolling across the screen at the bottom of the picture.

Photographed, freeze framed, and converted into low resolution pictures, we become even more aware of the ironic and contradicting juxtapostion of images, or "info-bites", that confront us: Sports scores next to images of massacred Afghans; "^╩ the nation╣s third largest petroleum company^╩" with maps of upcoming targets; "^╩ human cloning researcher defends work ^╩ " with starving and freezing refugees; or "^╩ capital gang" with "^╩ 7 killed in Palestine ^╩"

To these compressed and text intensive images I add another layer of text including the project title and a keyword. "Picture rubble / raw material: landscape 1"; "^╩: 2 men standing 1"; "^╩: heavy metal 3"; "^╩: gaze5" etc. The keywords are rather naive and oriented along a phenomenology of simple appearances that ignores the seriousness of the facts behind these images. They provide a false sense of order and simplicity to an image catalog of death, destruction, spin, and enforced justification.

On the Internet, this media war-material is made available by me through a random slide show in order to keep it available beyond the events which are moving and altering the TV-output constantly. The discrepancy between the sophisticated digital image of the satellite or cable info-world and the simplicity of the area that is bombed out in a remote zone renders any questions for justification irrelevant. It even destroys the possibility for an accurate analysis. Those in charge of media and oil monopolies, satellites and laser weapons, are unfortunately also in charge of "the truth" and the power to define events and people. With a finger pointing at anyone who doesn't believe the press releases of the state department: "You are the terrorist!"

Rainer Ganahl, New York, December 5, 2001

> This project is on going <