Killing for Show: Photography, War and the Media in Vietnam and Iraq

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Verso, 2019 - Art - 688 pages
A history of war photography - from Vietnam to Iraq and the War of Terror - and how photography has changed war.

Today we watch wars from afar, swayed by the images that fill our newsfeeds, social media and screens. Since the Vietnam War the way we see conflict through film, photographs, and pixels, has had a powerful impact on the political fortunes of the campaign, and the way that war has been conducted. In this fully-illustrated and passionately argued account of war imagery, Julian Stallabrass tells the story of post-war conflict, how it was recorded, and remembered through its iconic photography.

The relationship between war and photograph is constantly in transition, forming new perspectives, provoking new challenges: what is allowed to be seen? How are photographs remembered? Does an image has the power to change political opinion? What influence market economics has upon the way we consume visual media, especially images of war. How new forms of distribution change the image's potency. Stallabrass shows how photographs have become a vital weapon in the modern war: as propaganda - from close quarter fighting to the drone's electronic vision - as well as a witness to the barbarity of events such as the My Lai massacre, the violent suppression of insurgent Fallujah or the atrocities in Abu Ghraib. Changes in technology - from shutter speed, use of colour stock, and methods of digital distribution - have also transformed the way photography is used in depicting and even waging accelerated warfare.

Through these accounts Stallabrass maps a comprehensive theoretical re-evaluation of the relationship between war, politics and visual culture. Killing for Show is an essential volume in the history of photography.

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About the author (2019)

Julian Stallabrass is Reader in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. His books include High Art Lite: The Rise and Fall of Young British Art, Art Incorporated: The Story of Contemporary Art, Gargantua: Manufactured Mass Culture, and Internet Art: The Online Clash of Culture and Commerce. In 2008 he curated the Brighton Photo Biennial, Memory of Fire: Images of War and the War of Images, nine contrasting exhibitions about war photography. He writes for the New Left Review, Artforum, Texte zur Kunste, Bazaar Art and the London Review of Books.

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