Ana, thank you for sharing your thoughts about VB exhibition and
raising this topic.

While reading the discussion started by you about public war
representation by artists and reporters, and thinking about the
issues raised by it, particularly relations between the subjective
experience and perception of war, and the macro-politics of mediated
representation of war, I remembered a story of a journalist, I once
met, about her encounter of reporting from a war zone.

It was quite a few years ago in Moscow, the time somewhat in the
beginning of the Second Chechen campaign. A young independent French
journalist, very pretty miniature girl with the Russian name Olga
(unfortunately I don't remember her last name), who you would rather
expect to be one of the bohemian Moscow film festival crowd we were
surrounded by in a cafe, where we were sitting, than picture her with
a heavy tv camera among militaries at the front line. Nevertheless
she'd been just recently back from Chechnia, where she went in the
company of a cameraman who worked for one of the European tv channels.
That guy though got scared at the last moment and changed his mind,
but she managed to get his camera and continued on her own. (The guy
then apparently sold the report as his own.) For quite a while she
stayed with Russian troops which were involved in active military
operations, trying to document what was going on on both sides when
possible. I remember her frustration about the experience she had
as a reporter. She admitted that to portray the reality as it was
did not help her to figure out the truth beneath the surface of the
events she was witnessing. Moreover, she found herself to be an object
of manipulations by both sides: Russian militaries and Chechens
(whoever they were, she never even found out). She did not sound
and look neither as a naive self-indulged hero, nor as a dedicated
self-abundant professional, nor as a career hunter, but rather as a
disillusioned person facing failure. I have never met her again. Later
I heard from a friend, who introduced us, that she had problems with
renewing her Russian visa.

I guess, that someone working for BBC or CNN, or another big media
corporation, a highly qualified professional provided with all
necessary news-production assistance, has much more confidence about
the quality, significance and truthfulness of what s/he is doing,
while delivering her/his observations on camera at the background of
a just bombed area or even an ongoing attack. I respect very much
the courage and dedication of those journalists risking their lives
in order to show us the reality of wars. But are these "truthful"
images of wars the essential "truth" about wars which the public must
know in order to engage with the war reality one way or another? This
spectacle of war to which mass media expose the public every day are
consequences of the politics from which the public is excluded in the
firs place. If massive public protests all over the world against
the war in Iraq did not stop a bunch of irresponsible politicians
to start it anyway, what else can you do? Either produce or consume
its images with all cynicism implied. The disengagement, cynicism
and apathy, or even worse - pretentious sentimentality, which mass
media teach the public, is not as much the result of overexposure
to brutal images, as it is result of feeding the public the "truth"
about its irrelevance as active subjects for both, "big" politics and
media spectacle experts. It's pretty obvious that exposing the true
horrors of war without seriously addressing the underlying truths
the public must know, which would concern for example such questions
as: how a particular war became possible in the first place, despite
all kinds of conflict and problems mediation, resolution, regulation
institutions, mechanisms, and laws established and developed on behalf
of public and financed by public money? what's wrong with all these
institutions and legislations? how to hold particular individuals
responsible for their back-doors deals and irresponsible actions,
especially if they are not leaders of weak 3d-world politically and
economically irrelevant states? etc. There is a lack of serious
analytical and investigative journalism which would present us not
just with the images of icebergs tops, but the factual mechanics
of underlying processes. Although it's the result of structural
politico-economical troubling developments, as it's been already
pointed out by quite a few critics of mass media industries, including
Herman and Chomsky in "Manufacturing Consent". And unfortunately brave
independent and civil journalists and field reporters hardly can
successfully compensate this lack, without the support and resources
which powerful media corporations can provide.

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: [EMAIL PROTECTED] and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: [EMAIL PROTECTED]

Reply via email to