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Northwestern University in Evanston, IL is to host the conference ‘Blogging Images: Photojournalism and Public Commentary’ on Saturday, April 30th.

Robert Hariman explains why here:

“Because photojournalism is a public art, it exists in part to provoke and inform public discussion.  Likewise, good public discussion includes talking about images as a way of thinking about public affairs and other things held in common.  Although photojournalism has been accompanied by commentary from its inception, digital technologies have provided both new media for image circulation and new venues for critical commentary and audience interaction.  These changes provide an opportunity for scholars in the humanities to become more directly engaged with public audiences, but effective engagement is likely to require different skills and perhaps different attitudes than those that characterize academic discourse.”

Speakers include Brian Ulrich, (Document to Propaganda: The New Face of Photographic Truth), Jim Johnson (The Uses of Photography: Thinking About Public Space) and Michael Shaw of BagNewsNotes (Role and Process of Analyzing News Images). Looking forward to the conclusions.

Last week, I said that photographs from Guantanamo now teach us nothing. I should qualify that statement; photographs will tell us nothing new of the military operations, procedures and especially not future plans for the site.

It does not mean, however, that photographs are useless. Visual sources can be presented to refine existing positions of that illegal and politically foolish site.

Looking at the same set of photographs by Tim Dirven, Robert Hariman of NO CAPTION NEEDED has drafted a position that describes the growing and inevitable non-utility of Guantanamo as it relates to the discredited policy that originally led to its construction and use.

An architecture of stupidity begins to emerge.  For example, the extreme functionality of the space that actually inhibits any reasonable use, much less any use that might lead to resolution of the larger conflict. Also perhaps the over-design of the security apparatus: tables bolted to the floor within a cage will have their rationale, but there is something so excessive here that it has to be a sign of arbitrary rules, endless procedures, and near-complete inattention to anything else but the literal replication of the machinery of power.  Nor is that a dynamic process, but one that depends on stasis, on the inactivity, boredom, and habitual resignation to routine evident in the guards’ postures.”

“[Guantanamo] prison is a monument to stupidity.  It is not enough to reform the prison, however.  My point is that the national security state produces stupidity because it depends upon stupidity.  The national interest of a democratic people may be served well by reason, but the modern state, to the extent that it is a regime of coercive control, will rely on another mentality: stupidité d’état.”

(My bolding)


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