This time, I’m working with the images I have rather than going and finding new images (I will do more of this as we work through the year), and I’m just trying to work out how they feel together, unified in style of text, even though I’m not fully sure as to what that text should be. Should they be short snippets? Should they be obscure? (acknowledging that unless you recognise them for what they are, they will be regardless) Should they be more didactic and drive home a point? Should they be somehow violent in themselves, to mirror the violence of the war they are “covering”? Should they be completely opposite, softer and perhaps more feminine to offset a perceived masculinity of war? (and yes, I do appreciate it is not a purely male-oriented pursuit)
I suppose what I am trying to work out is what I am trying to say. What is the reason for creating these images? What is it for? And what do I want from it? (more questions from Les’ lecture)
Whilst I’ve thought long and hard about these questions over the last few months (well, the first three anyway), I’ve not thought about this particular version of the answer; whilst it will be informed by that thinking, what I will write below is somewhat off the cuff. I feel I need to do this as if I (over)think, I end up tying myself in knots. I might still do…
I’m not actually sure I’m trying to say anything, not in a direct sense. I’m asking myself questions though, and also putting those questions “out there” for others to contemplate, or not. The catalyst for starting the work was a combination of seeing media coverage of actual conflict on the television, my own relationship to that conflict, and how that conflict gets turned around, rehashed and presented as entertainment. War films are hugely popular and I will hold my hand up to admitting enjoying them myself. I’m part of the conundrum I’m trying to resolve in more ways than one.
I’m also interested in how both film and documentary come together as spectacle, sometimes even blurring, with films sometimes shot docu-style, with handicams and whatnot, I suppose this is related to using Hipsta-style apps for shooting documentary photographs of war but working in a contra-direction. War is sometimes being packaged into something… easy to digest. Familiar. Acceptable. Sure, there’s the so called “War Porn” of Christoph Bangert and the likes, with work far more visceral and subject to censorship, and which is also presented for consideration by the viewer as documentary, not art (although, how is the current Tate exhibition to be considered?). And yes, this brutality and carnage will spill over into the more hardcore cinematic realms. Where do the real and un-real crossover? Where does it all become entertaining? Is it fetishised? Commoditised? (a slightly different direction, but one that might be worthwhile taking a look at – see adverts for the RAF here or BAE Systems here, and there will be others to consider too). I suppose it’s about our attitude more than anything else.
I could just leave the images as they were, blurred time slices that can have a really poetic feel in some cases, or be quite jarring in others, haunting too at times. Left alone, they feel too much like they’re promoting the concept of war, almost making it exciting, entertaining and reinforcing the idea of war as spectacle in the age of hyper-reality. Maybe that’s something I should push, but then I think this removes something of the onus on the viewer to question. The lyrics, for me at least, do two things. Firstly, it brings in another vein of the entertainment industry. More importantly though, I think it makes you stop in your tracks and consider how the two things go together. Why are the words and image juxtaposed? It’s here that I think the question of war and entertainment become stronger, although I’m undecided if they’re stronger with a more… surreal combination, or something more direct. Is it better to let people think about something for longer, accepting you will lose people along the way? Or should I look to hammer home the point using connected or related combinations. There are songs about war, some pro, others anti/protest. There are songs that have become associated through use in s film soundtrack – I’m thinking more about the late 80s Vietnam films here (Good Morning Vietnam or Full Metal Jacket), and the music they used and even the pop songs they spawned; Camouflage or N-n-n-n-n-nineteen anyone?
I need to consider the theoretical underpinnings too. I’m reading War isn’t hell, it’s entertainment at the moment, whilst simultaneously dipping into Memory of Fire too. There’s Baudrillard’s The Gulf War did not take place and other things as well. So many things that can be considered, war is obviously a popular subject in many ways – art, film, songs, books and of course, actually fighting them. It leaves me conflicted (pun intended).
Anyway, back to the latest “samples”. They’re here.
Lyric: Sumerland, by Fields of the Nephilim
Image: Apocalypse Now
Lyric: Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen
Lyric: Kill Your Television, by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin
Image: Battle of Warsaw 1920
Lyric: The Love Song, by Marilyn Manson
Image: Battle of Warsaw 1920
Lyric: Can’t get you out of my head, by Kylie Minogue
Image: Battle for Haditha
Lyric: White Rabbit, by Jefferson Airplane
Image: Saving Private Ryan
Lyric: Ribbons, by The Sisters of Mercy
Image: Our World War
Lyric: The Partisan, by Leonard Cohen
Image: Black Hawk Down
Lyric: Firestarter, by The Prodigy
Image: Enemy at the Gates
Lyric: God Save the Queen, by The Sex Pistols
(images used for educational purposes)
I need time to think about them, but time is not what I have for F3. All that means is that before the end of the year they will change.