Wayne Morrison



Atrocity and the Power of the Image

In a globalized digital age, viewing combines a multiplicity of technologies of production and dissemination of images. Their reception involves acts of consumption and choice; the inhabitants of the prosperous, postmodern West are literally immersed in a sea of images. A certain technology and opportunity is needed to preserve war and suffering, as well as death and destruction in imagery. A tradition of art opposing the horrors of war has emerged, with Francisco Goya at its apex (the Disasters of War), along with others such as Otto Dix. It is doubtful whether artistic endeavor has prevented atrocity, but some believe in its power. This was evidenced when U.S. Sectary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the United Nations Security Council leading up to the invasion of Iraq was delayed so that the tapestry of Picasso’s Guernica could be removed, preventing it from becoming a politically upsetting backdrop. We now know Technological advances mean that images will be produced from the shadows and behind the doors, but to what effect?

image, atrocity, art as resistance, war

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 36, No.3 (2009): 61-77


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