Fossilising Catastrophe

I chanced upon Afterwards this afternoon, a compilation of photographs aiming to capture proverbial dust-covered landscapes rather than a point of impact. The collection is a testament to how, in pivotal moments of human history – usually devastation – the media hones in on a narrow scope of pictures, reproducing them to the point of signification and synonymy.

The globalization of information allows to exist simultaneously with our counterparts of varying creeds, superstitions and dress. Decelerations of solidarity, disgust, wonderment, intrigue elicited via virtual exploration  obliterates the very idea of time and space. We watch and watch again as towers tumble, waves create desolation and then the primary and final of missile flies.  Alternately, yet quite similarly,  the rampages of a government can be witnessed helplessly before the image shrinks into the corner of the screen and we watch our own government’s officials some years earlier shaking hand with the arbitrators with emissary smiles.  

Images placed so immediately once with each other negates their insidious nature. Moments in history are not, never should be, and never have been moments: they are processes with precludes, prologues and epilogues unbound by time and space, the very concepts the news media has conquered. 

Immediate images are but one fraction of a second of an event.  Inevitably and invariably the photographs do not present harrowing pasts, nor do they incite reflections and political mobility. The most apt comparison of photographs laying witness to the proverbial point of impact is the fossil examined by the nude eye.

In news media, if it was a disaster you can note that it was a disaster, as you would note the rocky relic were an animal if it were composed of joints and claws.  A land is baron as a a fossil clearly once respired. The pertinent questions still remain: Did the animal prance or two claws or four? Or four paws? Did it prance with cold blood or warm coursing through its veins? Was the disaster a freak accident or planned destruction? Is the intentional destruction the vindictive action of another nation? Was the land cleared for agriculture, due to depletion of resources or because of a genocide executed by a fascist, tyrannical regime?

The News Media is stale and out of sync, broadcasting perceptibly narrow images of warring men, gaining an ephemeral poignancy and filing down the emphasis on the true nature and consequences of events yet to be diligently studied by delving historians. Facile snaps will be transposed to agitprop status, whilst actuality, analysis, commentary and true understanding will be reserved for the connoisseurs.


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