Image as Everything

Thanks to zunguzungu for clarifying some important points in my last post.  That image raises the ongoing question of the image’s power or value.  The image in the previous post shows a cop with what almost looks like a posture of fear facing some unknown and unseen presence (surely he is justified in the face of what must be horrible).  Even the hippie in the background looks taken off guard.  Perhaps we should have re-thought this. Then below you have a burly police officer looking like he is about to put the full force of authoritarian stick into the gut of some un-sporty student who just wants to get inside the hallowed halls of academia.


This reminds me of the also recent student protests in England (50,000 + I am told).  ads without products offers these two images.

And then a wider frame.

I am sure this issue has many well-worn conversation paths that I am not aware of.  But I am a consumer of these images far and above being a critic and participant in understanding the issues at hand.  Is it simply another form of Capitalism-as-Universal in which these expressions are immediately captured in the lenses of those who will in turn profit from portraying all parties in all lights to ensure maximum return?


2 thoughts on “Image as Everything

  1. One of the things that struck me about the video collage put together by the Daily Cal (the UCB student newspaper, which is surprisingly good sometimes) was a moment from about 2:45-2:55, where you can see a police pepper spraying a crowd of camera wielding students:

    It’s a scene I’ve seen over and over again over the last year; cops using non-deadly violence against students using cameras. We need to become better consumers of images, as you suggest, but the frequency by which you see state force being faced off by “publicity” (or whatever you want to call the effort to turn surveillance against the policing apparatus) is a phenomenon in its own right. And in this case, it’s a particularly powerful tool: the police charged a student from UC Merced with assaulting a police officer and claimed that the cop above drew his firearm because he had been hit on the head with his own baton. The reason we know that’s not the case is because there is video of the entire interaction, and you can see exactly what happened (and what didn’t).


  2. I agree that technology becomes a powerful tool of the ‘weak’. In my tradition members of Christian Peacemaker Teams stand in as ‘international eyes’ in areas of conflict to keep accountability especially in Israel/Palestine.
    See a great short doc on how media profoundly impacts the life of an ‘old radical’ (who recently died) here.
    What I struggle with are the additional images and videos from protesters (especially in Toronto during the G20) which show the inane and exasperating search for how police can be portrayed as the devils they clearly all are. I have not given the time or energy to sort more clearly through these issues so I can only wade so far into this conversation so thanks for the feedback.


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