Week 8 – An agent for change?

I agree with Ashley above on the comment on how Western societies became too comfortable, egocentric and reactive only to something that directly affects them. Behind the images we see in the media there is whole a cultural and social-political agenda, and so much is hidden and pre-selected already and it avoids or separate contents that are not relevant for them. For an example, Mozambique was hit by a cyclone on Thursday and at the moment 15.000 are waiting for rescue. This news is not being shown on the main website page, or on social medias, as it is a problem that does not concern the UK. The BBC published the note about the cyclone on the “Africa” section of the page.

Here are a couple of images published.

Here they published the more aesthetic images to portrait the tragedy, but many other images are being taken at the moment. Shouldn’t they be taken, should this weather nature event and its consequences not be recorded? This event on itself could reveal the poverty of the country and on how unprepared they are to deal with an event of this dimension.

This is a very complex subject as it deals with being human and the way we all relate to tragedy and death. The so discussed here Abu Ghraiib Prison photos, on the other hand, show us how the soldier, not only identified the prisoners as inferior, but objectified them.

Sontag, at the end of the article “Regarding the torture of others” says: After all, we’re at war. Endless war. And war is hell, more so than any of the people who got us into this rotten war seem to have expected. In our digital hall of mirrors, the pictures aren’t going to go away. Yes, it seems that one picture is worth a thousand words. And even if our leaders choose not to look at them, there will be thousands more snapshots and videos. Unstoppable.”

Another recent event that was already discussed here was the New Zealand shooting and its live streaming. Could this be a consequence of normalisation of use of violence as entertainment? The video was created to be a trophy of his horrific act, but some described that it felt like a video game.

As Ashley said above: ‘I would argue that photographic and editorial censorship and violence as entertainment have done far more to deaden our collective conscience than ‘concerned photography’. But “concerned photography” is needed in some circumstances and more increasingly we are getting access to material created from a different perspective or point of view.

Aylan-Kurdi-603682.jpg

I believe that images such as Aylan Kurdi’s are needed to highlight the situation. Images can bring awareness and also information about what is or has happened, such as the already mentioned Bloody Sunday’s Gilles Peress images. The subject here is not to normalize death and tragedy, but in the future, we will still have this image and it will be a reminder of the mass migration as a consequence of the Syrian war. It is a moment that will be part of the history of humanity, and this will be reminder to our children of what war can cause.

Will these reminders help to stop war and history repeating itself in future generations? The well-known concentration camp Auschwitz was kept as a museum as an attempt to keep memories alive, in order to avoid the same fact to repeat in history. Auschwitz, along with other destinations, is one of the most famous among followers of what is being described as “Dark tourism”. Another question to ask is: Are we humans attacked to tragedy and death?

dark-auschwitz-kids.jpg

Professor Lennon, a lecturer in dark tourism from Glasgow Caledonian University, describes dark tourism as being “motivated by a desire for actual or symbolic encounters with death”.

I believe the way images are created and used always come with an intent, and therefore, they are very powerful. We are all part of the political and cultural system, so the best to do is become more aware of the traps in our societies and do not take the “Blue pill”.

Lennon finished the article saying that to “remain silent and not to record and interpret these events for tourists, may encourage future generations to ignore or forget these terrible periods of human history. Dark tourism, like our dark history, occupies an important part of our understanding of what it is to be human.”

References:

SONTAG, Susan. 2004. Regarding the torture of others. tps://goo.gl/PwSVZ

https://g1.globo.com/mundo/noticia/2019/03/21/quase-15-mil-pessoas-aguardam-resgate-em-zonas-inundadas-de-mocambique.ghtml?fbclid=IwAR3FL9bsW8rd6bGwE1D3xVI3d4GtlaqqRklwTDHWyWfKOTQReKjmOjgrPFY

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/603682/beach-Aylan-Kurdi-Morocco-tribute-Syria-refugee-crisis-Turkey-David-Cameron-migrants

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/comment/Dark-tourism-why-are-we-attracted-to-tragedy-and-death/

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