W.A.R. – War Against Reality
9 October 2019

W.A.R. – War Against Reality

In W.A.R. – War Against Reality – I question the system and limitations of embedded journalism, the arguable reportage coming from professional eyewitnesses, and their often partisan and very selective depiction of conflict. To do so I have set out to use a computational process to compress war documentary footage, created by embedded journalists across numerous war theatres and published on the Internet, into single digital images.

Embedded journalism, in fact, trades unprecedented access to war theatres, for important restrictions on the freedom of speech and report about the witnessed conflicts. For instance, reporters are required to agree upon and sign, prior to embedding, ground rules forbidding to provide media coverage of injured soldiers, dead soldiers, the morgue, the results of enemy fire, and more. In 2008 Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin remarked that “[t]he word collusion rather than journalism may better describe this kind of reporting.” It is my contention that we shall rethink that approach to journalism, if we are to trust the narration it offers of war events; otherwise we would have to regard such reportages as enemy fire exploded in the course of political warfare.

The resulting visuals are war documentary footage distilled into minimal palettes, and arranged into aestheticizing compositions, whose degree of abstraction varies according to the contents of the footage. To me they seem to reject almost every sort of mimesis. They attempt to subvert any attempt of representation and narration. Hiding more than they show, these traces of war speak to me about the limitations of embedded journalism, its selective depiction of conflict made from the front row, and its impact on how war is narrated.

– “The first casualty, when war comes, is truth.” – Hiram Johnson