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Visual media and political conflict
Editors: Jens Eder and Charlotte Klonk

Still and moving images are crucial factors in contemporary political conflicts. They not only have representational, expressive or illustrative functions, but also augment and create significant events. Beyond altering states of mind, they affect bodies, and often life or death is at stake. Various forms of image operations are currently performed in the contexts of war, insurgency and activism. Photographs, videos, interactive simulations and other kinds of images steer drones to their targets, train soldiers, terrorise the public, celebrate protest icons, uncover injustices, or call for help. They are often parts of complex agential networks and move across different media and cultural environments. This book is a pioneering interdisciplinary study of the role and function of images in political life. Balancing theoretical reflections with in-depth case studies, it brings together renowned scholars and activists from different fields to offer a multifaceted critical perspective on a crucial aspect of contemporary visual culture.

Jens Eder

63 Affective image operations Jens Eder1 Images enter the interactional networks of political conflict in various ways. Often, they motivate political action by evoking emotions and affects. This is evident, for instance, in visual propaganda, images of terror, donation campaigns or activist videos like Kony2012. Aiming to mobilise a movement against a brutal warlord, the documentary made calculated use of cinematic techniques to maximise viewers’ emotional responses. It went viral on social media platforms and was soon watched more than 100 million times. The

in Image operations
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Refracting control from virtual reality to the digital battlefield
Timothy Lenoir and Luke Caldwell

89 Image operations: refracting control from virtual reality to the digital battlefield Timothy Lenoir and Luke Caldwell In the post-​Cold War era, the US military invested heavily in a makeover to replace the massive US ground forces of the post-​World War II era with smaller, more flexible organisational units typified by special operations forces and weapons systems that exploited the new information technologies: what military historian Max Boot called ‘a new American way of war’ grounded in ‘speed, maneuver, flexibility … precision firepower, special

in Image operations
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Jens Eder and Charlotte Klonk

1 Introduction Jens Eder and Charlotte Klonk Consider three well-​known images. Each set in motion a particular kind of image operation that cannot be fully understood either by reconstructing the intentions of the producers or by considering single moments of its reception. Instead, a whole series of largely uncontrollable events came together to create a complex cluster of meanings that goes well beyond the images’ efficacy at any specific point in time. Image A: on 11 March 1993, the photographer Kevin Carter accompanied a United Nations humanitarian aid

in Image operations
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Charlotte Klonk

Richard Drew’s photograph, that breach was the violation of the ‘falling people’ picture taboo in New York in the aftermath of 9/​11. From a distance, both historical and geographical, images like this may be able to open up a critical space of reflection and become part of wider set of image operations that goes beyond their initial impact. In the first part of this chapter I will analyse the pictorial norms that govern the reporting of terror attacks. They constitute a frame that shapes expectations and has been in place since the emergence of the phenomenon of modern

in Image operations
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A case for embodied visuality
Bishnupriya Ghosh

awareness of Sharmila’s plight when she was arraigned to stand trial in 2013.2 Circulating as pop artefacts, their distribution in customary public sites (cafés, college canteens, movie theatre lobbies) in the nation’s capital, Delhi, galvanised 14 198 198 Image operations a social network. The campaign was launched when Sharmila was arraigned for suicide in March 2013. The charges against her were dropped in the context of the Indian Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling codifying the hunger strike as ‘a form of protest which has been accepted, both historically and legally

in Image operations
Remixed lives, reincarnated images and live- streamed co- presence
Sam Gregory

audiences as if they were contemporaneous witnessed images. Live-​streaming witnesses participate in real-​time via live feeds from crisis situations. Increasingly, they move from the space of participatory image interventions of remix and recirculation to actual interventions in ongoing events in locations of crisis. All engage with questions of personal action and agency: how image operations self-​actualise them as individuals or enable them to act in effective solidarity with others; how to consider the impact of active distant witnessing on distant situations; and

in Image operations
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James Elkins

219 Afterword James Elkins The conference from which this book grew was one of the most memorable and challenging of recent years. Its brief was to consider the concept of ‘image operations’. It was from the start a double subject: on the one hand, Charlotte Klonk and Jens Eder were interested in photographs and videos that ‘intervene directly in the world and change it in far-​reaching ways’, including terrorist videos and other images of warfare that impact ‘immediately and concretely on people and bodies’. On the other hand, they were interested in images

in Image operations
Images of female suicide bombers in the Middle East
Verena Straub

(Toufic 2012, 173). Muhaydli’s locution ‘I am the martyr’ as well as the visual scheme in which she is seated at a desk with the party’s emblem in the background would serve as a model for future suicide bombers. Her video would not only be restaged by members of her own party but would also be adopted by members of the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP). In each 10 138 138 Image operations video that follows the example of Muhaydli’s testimony, the so-​called martyr is seen in front of a wall covered with recognisable images of previous martyr videos, thereby

in Image operations
Assemblages of images and the production of knowledge
W. J. T. Mitchell

79 Method, madness and montage: assemblages of images and the production of knowledge W. J. T. Mitchell The most fundamental ‘image operation’ may well be the one that we never show to an audience: it is the array of images on the slide table that is assembled prior to an academic lecture (Plate 1). This layout is merely a ‘working arrangement’: it does not rise to the level of the artistic collage, which invites us to contemplate an array of images as a compositional whole. In its sequential arrangement it may suggest a relation to cinematic montage, and if an

in Image operations