A man walks in front of a burning building after a Syrian Air Force air strike in the Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus
January 27, 2013.
Photo: Goran Tomasevic
This short film was made to accompany an exhibition of Goran’s images from Syria that appear the Visa Pour L’image international photojournalism festival that launches next week.
Ready, Aim, Shoot!
Posted by Lucaites
Much of what we do here at NCN is a celebration of photography. And among its many virtues are that it slows the world down, indeed, it stops the world in ways that normal sight is often hard pressed to do—at 1/800thof a second, for example—inviting us not just tolookat the world around us, but toseeit, sometimes with fresh eyes. It operates as such in many registers, but sometimes it invokes what the philosopher and literary critic Kenneth Burke called a “perspective by incongruity,” literally encouraging us to “see” things in terms of things that they are not. Or perhaps, as in the photograph above, encouraging us to ponder the similarities between things that on the face of it we assume are altogether different.
According to the caption we are viewing a member of the Free Syrian Army who is simultaneously “pointing” his weapon and his camera at a “scene” in Deir al-Zor, one of the largest cities situated in the eastern part of Syria. Of course, he is not just “pointing” his rifle, and the purpose of the gun is not to so much to capture a “scene” as to contain or intrude upon a strategic space. And so, one might think that the language of photography somehow masks and moots the language of weaponry. But, of course, the language could be reversed as we might say that he is “aiming” his camera and “shooting” at his enemy. And if that seems like too much of a stretch, don’t forget how cameras have become one of the primary “weapons” in the war on terrorism—and more—surveying public spaces, authenticating identities, and so on. And indeed, if nothing else the image of the Syrian freedom fighter is a stark reminder of how entangled thelanguage(and, as it turns out, the history) of the camera and the gun are, each calling attention to the capacity of the respective technology to aggressively intervene in, capture, and control a situation.
There is no question that I would rather be “shot” by a camera than by a rifle, and I have no doubt that the world would be a better place if we could truly substitute “pixels for pistols.” But for all of that, we should not lose sight of the potential predatory power of the lens or the ways in which a camera can serve as a weapon, however good or ill the purpose to which it is put.
Smoke rises in the Hanano and Bustan al-Basha districts in the northern city of Aleppo as fighting continued through the night, on December 1, 2012. A large rebel force launched an offensive on one of the few army bases in northwestern Syria still in the hands of loyalist forces and as fighting near Damascus closed the main road to the airport.
Photo: Javier Manzano
InFocus has coverage of the long destructive war still raging in Syria.
Source: The Atlantic
sirmitchell: Syrian rebels go to grab their weapons after hearing a tank is nearby, only to be killed by that tank seconds later.
What an intense, and deeply saddening photo. I recommend seeing the entire series. It took me a while to completely digest them.
Big props to Tracey Shelton for putting her life on the line to let the world know what is really happening in Syria.
This is a great little article from the excellent photojournalism blog No Caption Needed
The Everydayness of War
Posted by Lucaites
I was having a conversation with a former student recently who was exasperated by the fact that the war in Afghanistan, approaching its twelfth anniversary, is the longest American history and yet it is rarely on the front pages of our newspapers and but for the occasional report of U.S. troops being killed—usually in small numbers—there is hardly any public debate or discussion about it. And the question, of course, is why? Why is it that a war that is costing us roughly $100 billion a year, and has taken nearly 2,000 American lives, while wounding another 15,000 seems to have no traction in the public consciousness?
I thought of this question when I came across this photograph circulating in a number of different slideshows this past week. The scene is from Syria, not Afghanistan, but what makes the image distinctive is the way in which it frames the act of war in an ordinary and everyday environment. The soldier here is a sniper, but he doesn’t wear a uniform, dressed instead in a camouflage vest that covers what appears to be athletic running gear. He is not on a conventional battlefield, but rather in what appears to be someone’s living room. And he has converted the equipment of everyday life into weapons of death as he perches himself on a couch and uses seat cushions and pillows to balance and aim his high powered rifle. Curtains seem to provide him with a modicum of cover. And more, he exudes an uncanny nonchalance, simultaneously focused on the task before him and yet altogether relaxed. Notice for example how he holds his cigarette while adjusting his scope, implicitly dividing his attention between the two. War for him has become routine, neither here nor there, a condition of everyday life that can’t be ignored and so becomes commonplace, part and parcel of living in a constant zone of conflict.
There is no parallel to this image or the experience it represents in the United States. The wars we have been fighting in the Middle East over the past eleven years are wars fought at a distance. We are typically reminded about them only when someone we know is directly affected by them—killed or maimed—but even then for most of us the effect tends to be temporary as we mourn our loss and then quickly return to going about our lives without any serious concerns for our immediate personal safety. In short, these wars have not become part of our everyday being. And as such, they become too easy to forget, or worse, to ignore.
Photo Credit: Goran Tomasevich/Reuters