The New Soft-Focus Lens Of War

Via the The New Inquiry, Huw Lemmey on social media as tools of destruction:

By nightfall tonight that explosion which just shook your neighborhood, in one of the most densely populated areas on earth, will have been liked over 8,000 times on Facebook. Welcome to Gaza City.

The transmutation of territorial control today enters a new topography, an extension of the historical “propaganda war”: control of the networked space online. The IDF have run a comprehensive social media campaign from the first stages of the new assault, announcing the assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari on Twitter, followed up by YouTube footage of his targeted killing within minutes.

Far from embracing ideas of a futuristic, dehumanising warfare, the instagrams of IDF, processed through the various “retro” and “soft-focus” filters, serve a dual purpose. The first purpose is that of historicization. Much as the hipstamatic literally filters the contemporary condition through the lens of the ’60s and ’70s, the use of “retro” filters removes the images of today’s IDF from their context within the current campaign of blockade and air assault and reframes them as part of the Israeli foundation story. Secondly, the[ir] use replicates the visual culture favoured by much of its audience, producing images that slip easily into their feeds, naturalising the content.

We imagined futuristic (that is, contemporary) war to be realised along the lines of our hyperactive young fantasies, but perhaps we should have predicted that War 2.0 would look less like Starship Troopers than the early drafts of a footwear campaign or a coffee franchise loyalty-card scheme.

1 Comment on "The New Soft-Focus Lens Of War"

  1. Some backlighting here, some soft focus there, a bit of lens flare on that one:


    War sure does look romantic, doesn’t it?

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