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Society of the Spectacle and Warfare Photography

Discuss contemporary war photography with regards to Debord's focus on the Population of the Spectacle.

Society of the Spectacle compiled by Dude Debord and printed in 1967 at the height of the Vietnam warfare argues that the globe has been overtaken by the idea of spectacle. Debord represents the actual spectacle consists of (in a number of numbered paragraphs); he says that, "In societies dominated by modern conditions of creation, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Anything that was directly resided has receded into a representation. " (#1) Debord is proclaiming that life in the modern age is becoming fixated on reality as representation (i. e. by the advertising) real life experience have been substituted for experience that are digitally resided. Debord continues on to say that "the spectacle occurs simultaneously as society, itself within society, and since method of unification. Within society, it is the focal point of most vision and all consciousness. But due to the very fact that sector is split, it is in reality the domains of delusion and wrong awareness: the unification it achieves is nothing but an official terminology of universal parting. . . the spectacle is not really a collection of images; this can be a social relationship between people mediated by images. " (#3-4) Together with the go up of new multimedia and the explosion of 24-hour reports and reality television set, it would seem that the lifestyle of the spectacle becomes self-evident. Mass levels of humans are aimed to gaze at what has become a global common culture, reports and entertainment.

For Debord, the spectacle is a tool of pacification and depoliticization; this is a "permanent Opium battle designed to push people to equate goods with commodities and to equate satisfaction with a success that expands according to its own laws and regulations. . . " the spectacle distracts from the most urgent task of true to life. (#44) Debord argues, our sense of reality is only an immense deposition of spectacles. All of that was once resided becomes mere representation. Debord's theory of the sectacle is comparable to that of Baudrillards theories which focus on the ideas of the hyperreality. He considered an image to be always a replacement for the true subject. The lines of actuality and non-reality have become so blurred inside our society that a picture can replace the real. Like Debord Baudrillards presumed we stay in a mediated fact, which prefers the icon of reality rather than the thing itself.

We are constantly bombarded with images form mass media our own lives are own actuality becomes entwined with the images we see. The boundary that should exist between reality and illusion is erased. A consequence of this we reside in. Images depicting the gruesome nature of battle are constantly available on television and in papers and periodicals; every page flipped reveals a fresh atrocity. We have been flooded with these images for so long that they no longer have an influence on us, instead on inspiring empathy and sympathy we have been more passive to them a sense of indifference. Within the mass media when there is a tale about stars or lifestyle it could surpass gruesome images of conflict.

As a population we've almost cultivated accustomed to these types of images, discovering them everyday. Within an essay entitled Images of Agony John Berger also argues that population has become immune system to images depicting hurting declaring that. . . "Within the last year or so, it is becoming normal for several mass blood circulation newspapers to create war images which earlier would have been suppressed to be too stunning. One might explain this development by arguing that these newspapers have to come to realise that a large portion of their readers are now alert to the horrors of conflict and desire to be shown the reality. Alternatively, one might claim that these newspapers believe that their readers have become inured to violent images therefore now contend in conditions of ever more violent sensationalism. " (ed Wells L, The Phtotgraphy Audience, chapter 27)

Berger is questioning the effectiveness of the violent or surprising war photo arguing that maybe the public have become immune system to images of horror and the papers are competing to show ever more horrific images to be able to gain pubic attention. We look around us and visit a world beyond our control. Counting on advanced systems to conduct war also to replicate it on film and Tv set has reduced our ability to tell apart between simple fact and entertainment, turning our experience of war into a mere spectacle.

In about the Pain of others Susan Sontag Describes societies fascination to violent images. . . " Everyone understands that what decreases highway traffic heading past a horrendous motor vehicle accident isn't just curiosity. It is also for most, the desire to see something gruesome". . . there will seem to be always a modern need fro the consumption of images of suffering. And this numerous way to obtain imagery has dulled our senses and created a fresh symptoms of communal inaction, we look around us and visit a world beyond our control, which is exactly what Debord was explaining in population of the spectacle. In her early book On Photography Susan Sontag writes that " War and photography now seen insperable. . . " (pg167) and as conflict evolves and goes on so gets the photographers reaction to the consequences of turmoil.

The Bulky large-format cameras of the 19th century prevented the first conflict photography enthusiasts such as roger Fenton from taking the action of fight instead their photographs focused on the aftermath of the battlefields. With the technological progress of cameras and not having to haul darkroom equipment with them the first world warfare photographer could get closer to overcome and then during the 2nd world conflict the intro of the 35mm camera increased the intimacy of the cameras eye, enabling photographers to become part of the action, in ways the first exponents in the 19 century could do not have dreamed. During the Vietnam war photographs could now been seen within times of these being considered, the immediacy making the images relevant and challenging the inevitability of war the audience was now considering something which is area of the present, and which holds over to the future. For a century and a half the camera has been witness to events which may have shaped and shocked the planet, capturing these images forever. We might now are in a world of multi channel tv set, 24-hour media coverage and instant his on the web, but it is the still image that provides the most effective record in our history, bad and the good. The still image seems to hold so much power over us, they previously, television is transferring and goes by quickly, photography endures, imprinted in writing and in your brain.

War and the consequences of warfare will always be explored throughout record in books, poetry, skill, film and picture taking. Before the first world warfare the depiction of fights by music artists were often of soldiers and generals depicted as heroes, in their outfits adorned with medals but through the first world war when painters were delivered to the front lines to track record the field, what they saw there defied their creativeness. It soon became clear that the traditional painting couldn't capture the full horror of warfare. The modernist painters began to check out the universal grimness of battle, the harsh simple fact of the world and decorated not what they observed but what they experienced. Including the musicians and artists Paul Nash who offered as a solider, portrayed the battlefield in a painting titked Menin Road in 1919, what he depicted was the aftermath of warfare, a barren landscape associated with an almost alien world the surreal colors a crimson blue sky the mutilated bare trees, bursts of smoke cigars increasing from the particles strewn floor and blue light filtering through the clouds completely empty apart from four lonely characters in the background. Nash required rob warfare of its previous shred of glory and its last stand out of glamour.

Francisco Goya's group of etchings Disasters of Warfare depicts the horrors of the Napoleonic invasion of Spain in 1808 where French soldiers brutally tortured the Spanish peasants and the Spanish responded with their own acts of cruelty. The works were withdrawn and withheld from publication during Goya's life-time for their controversial and troubling characteristics. Susan Sontag creates of Goyas' etchings in Regarding the Pain of others, ". . . Goya's fine art seems a turning point in the annals of moral thoughts and of sorrow-as deep, as original, as demanding. With Goya a new standard for responsiveness to suffering enters fine art. . . " Goya was witness to these occurrences during the conflict, but the etchings depict imagined displays of the atrocities of violence where in fact the lines between real incidents and dreamed ones blur creating a unique fact that is complimentary yet particular from the historical realities of battle. As the audience is not lead to trust the images are exact duplication of actual occasions the result is one of your sincere deep breathing on the terrifying probable that resides in all humans. The images don't specify who the folks are-the military could be French or Spanish, the useless tortured systems could be those of civilians or military giving the viewers a far more open interpretation taking images alive in a manner that relate with personal experience. Goyas images are constantly being revisited looking at Francis Bacon triptych Three Studies for Figures at the bottom of your Crucifixion 1944 the twisted screaming distorted animals depict mans inhumanity to man and take the fear into the future mood following the second world warfare and still our spirits today, bacon like Goya still has a hold over our creativeness, including the Chapman brothers reconstructed the Disasters of war in 1991 using miniature vinyl figurines. Painting and sculpture are evidently viewed as interpretations of the effect and effects of war, with picture taking the assumptions is the fact that images have emerged as a doc they appear real, even though we know photos can be faked and subject to the photography enthusiasts view of situations.

In On Picture taking Susan Sontag composed. . . "War and photography now appear inseparable. " In On Photography Sontag explains what she found as the miserable state of an society that lived at a far more plus more voyeuristic distance to the first side experience of fact. Relative to this Sontag represents the professional photographers whose personal matter was seemingly with finding out and understanding, were doing no more than satisfying the human thirst for feeling and driving this to extremes by ever more sensational images, until in the end all sense was lost.

In the booklet The photo as contemporary art. . . . . . describes the modern-day war shooter. . . "The use of medium-and large-format surveillance cameras (as opposed to 35mm format), not normally seen at the sites of battle and individuals disaster-not at least, because the mid-nineteenth century-has turn into a sign a new breed of shooter is framing the sociable world in a measured and contemplative manner. . . " She continues on to say. . . "The topic matter has been different, too; alternatively than being swept up amid an event, or at close quarters to specific pain and hurting, photogrphers choose to signify what is left behind in the wake of such tradegies, often doing this with style that propses aqualifying pperspective. " It is clear to. . . Modern-day war professional photographers have in the main taken anti-reportage position; slowing down image making, left over from the hub of action, and arriving after the decisive moment to permit the viewer a more contemplative look at war and the consequences of war.

Using Photomontage Martha Rosler infiltrates our comfort areas and uncovers the dangers in an illusionary distance often created by the media between conflict and ourselves. By using images from journals of advertisements combined with armed service images of soldiers and weaponry she transforms the notion of the safety of any home into one under assault. Her intention is to task the terror and atrocity of conflict in to the comfortable place where we live. She employs devices that work resistant to the seduction of advertising and consumer imagery, the procedure of photomontage allows her to expose the spaces between image and reality, and finally make the audience alert to an out of place existence. She addresses the impact of the mass media who according to Debord make the images of horror appear mundane and remote control by directing out the implicit presence of militarism inside our daily lives, by juxtaposing popular lifestyle publication images with stark images of warfare.

The French Professional photographer Sophie Ristelhuber Photos depicts the aftermath of warfare they are usually un peopled without survivors no dead, concentrating on the spots of war somewhat than its participants, the scars and burns are located on properties and landscapes rather then the folks. Her images of the Kuwaiti desert, entitled Fait were made shortly after the end of the first Gulf Conflict. Many of the photographs from this series were extracted from a ariel viewpoint This elevated viewpoint creates a distorted abstract view of trenches, reservoir tracts, bomb craters, blazing engine oil wells and battlefield detritus. You must look carefully and tightly at the images to discover that the lines and tracts items engulfed by the fine sand are the results of conflict scarring the landscaping emphasising how huge and sprawling the consequences of conflict can be. Sophie Ristelhueber represents the consequences of scale and point of view in her work:

. . . . "The continuous shift between the infinitely big and the infinitely small may disorientate the spectator. But from the good illustration of the relationship with the earth: We've at our disposal modern approaches for discovering everything, apprehending everything, yet in fact we see nothing at all. " Ristelhueber lately won the Deutsch Borse Photography prize 2010, including group of images entitled eleven blowups, a series of images of huge craters made by bombs In Beirut and Iraq, again the y represents the devastation conflict leaves behind both on the earth and the body.

Paul Seawright images the traces of damage that war leaves behind in a place The solitary places in Seawright's photographs seem to be to be concealing something they require the audience to look under the surface of the image the isolated barren areas disclose hollows where mines have been cleared or still left unexploded, or the subtle rubble of armed forces debris strewn over the desert landscape. The silent subtlety and blankness of the desert distances them from the spectacle from the medias representation of conflict, there is an unknown anxiety in the images Seawright creates a view of the futility of war. One of is own photographs is almost identical compared to that of Fenton's photograph of the Crimean war depicting vacant cannon balls in a valley illustrating the actual fact that despite its scientific advancements battle is fundamentally always the same. In his book Hidden Seawright says that he has. . . "been fascinated by the unseen, the unseen, the subject that doesn't easily present itself to the camera. "

Landlands And Bell were commissioned in 2002 by the imperial warfare museum to make an artwork in response to a two-week trip to Afghanistan and what they experienced there. Landlands and bell's work characteristically targets the interconnected romantic relationships linking people and architecture. They say: 'we're totally encircled by architecture. It's the most tangible record of the way we live because it describes how exactly we relate to socially, culturally and politically. It is the most prolonged of just how we live-our dreams and beliefs. "

The effect was among other training video based works The House of Bin Laden. Shown as an interactive part similar to a video game the audience is in charge with a joystick to explore a reconstruction of Osama Bin Laden's barren hilltop bunker. The viewers can practically travel through a bleak group of derelict houses, surrounded by burnt-out vehicles and particles. Langland's and Bell needed thousands of photographs of the house near Jalalabad, The eerie interactive digital exploration of Osama bin Laden's house offers an unsettling experience, and engages with the viewer in a completely new way regarding conflict photography. The residences incredibly small and basic. Hemorrhoids of blankets and clothes are strewn in the rooms anywhere else an individual string bed is isolated in a dark part. Outside there's a group of strangely produced bunkers and a tiny mosque. Being in control of looking at the work almost feels as though observing a criminal offense scene. The properties and grounds are absent of any individuals presence thought indicators of people who were once there are constant, however the elusive bin Laden is nowhere to be observed, his existence can be felt in this mesmerizing and traditional environment. It brings us disturbingly near to him, even as it stresses his continuing capability to evade record. THE HOME of Bin Laden becomes a metaphor for the elusive presence Bin Laden retains by the very fact of his disappearance.

By showing this piece as an interactive game like simulation Langland's and Bell are positively engaging in the thought of the spectacle by using what's essentially and entertainment structured advertising and allowing the audience to regulate their viewer using a joystick, it could be argued that by combing entertainment and unreality with true to life situations talks more to a generation obsessed with mass media. They do not try to make the 3d environments look natural like the images they had taken instead it appears constructed exactly as a computer game would look, angular and even. Personally, i experienced this work when I observed the Turner Award in 2004, which is clear that their goal was because of this piece to be looked at and experienced like a video game. Violent warfare comes as entertainment by means of computer games whose manufactures declare to make sure they are as realistic as it can be. Thus reflecting modern societies proposal with entertainment as opposed to real life issues.

There appears to be a move in contemporary war picture taking to a more contemplative and abstract methodology, maybe this is really as Debord represents because we live use to the assault and horrors the 'spectacle' of conflict presented in the multimedia, and also have become almost immune and unmoved by these images. we can never go through the true horrors of conflict unless from first hands experience but professional photographers seem now to be taking the position of the modernist painters of the first world warfare who painted what they felt somewhat than what they noticed. Contemporary professional photographers are interpreting these events alternatively than documenting them, in a manner that enables the viewers a far more contemplative method of the contemporary battle photograph.

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