|Written by Paul Corcoran|
|17 Mar 2010|
With the power to influence public anger and opinion, the war for control of the media during times of conflict has become an immense battle in the 21st century. The onset of the digital revolution has brought sweeping changes to the frequency and availability of news around the world. Twenty-four hour newscasts, breaking stories and news channels from the four corners of the globe direct to ones living room, give the impression that we are being fully informed about what is going on in the world from one second to the next. The power of this machine has been fully realised by all sides involved in hostilities. Perhaps no greater case then the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian population illustrates this point. The battle for hearts and minds is played out here, through the media, on an almost daily basis.
The lock-out of all western commentators during the December 2008 – January 2009, 22-day engagement in Gaza heralded a new frontier in the management of warfare. Brought about in an effort to control the flow of information and turn the attention of the world’s media to the Israeli side of the conflict, truth became the first casualty of war. Forced to observe from afar, fed by propaganda from both sides daily, a vacuum of verifiable fact exposed a redundancy in media reporting. With only fragments of information it became impossible to get any sense of what was happening in Gaza. The so called “sanitising” of footage by the western media came under much debate as the conflict raged on in ever-frightening levels of intensity. Only when the fighting ended and cameras and media were allowed back in, did the true horror of the devastation in Gaza become apparent, as too did the gross inadequacy of the reporting.
These images, taken from news footage from across all networks demonstrate the lack of clear detail or understanding of what is actually being shown. The fragments of information are subtly suggestive but offer no clear verifiable or objective fact. The process of producing the images – digitally-captured, deconstructed and re-presented – refers directly to the ideas of sanitising of footage. Viewed as a whole, the images become a statement about the inadequacy of the media in helping us understand the realities and complexities not just of this conflict but modern warfare in its own right. In the age of hyper-media, a hyper-informed citizen is not necessarily a well-informed citizen – these images bear witness to this fact. The 22 images in the series refer to the 22 days the conflict lasted and the captions are taken from media headlines that appeared each day as the fighting progressed.