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Aftermath (Ristelhuber, Sophie)

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suspicion of deception: It is linked to the idea of the fading away of any reference to external reality and, as a result, the individual's power of judgement. [49] This is where the debate over the ‹death of photography› converges with that over the virtualization of human experience, which was conducted in the 1990s in connection with computer games and increasing use of the Internet, but also in conjunction with the media adaptation of the first Gulf War in 1990/1991. The Gulf War gained exemplary meaning in two respects: It stands for a new dimension in the ‹visiontechnological› distancing of the fighter pilot from his or her target and for a particularly restrictive image policy on the part of American warfare. «In this war,» writes Mitchell in «The Reconfigured Eye,» which was published a year after the first Gulf War ended, «satellite imaging systems did much of the spying and scouting. Laser-guided bombs had nose-cone video cameras; pilots and tank commanders became cyborgs inseparable from elaborate visual prostheses that enabled them to see ghostly-green, digitally enhanced images of darkened battlefields. There was no Mathew Brady to show us the bodies on the ground, no Robert


Capa to confront us with the human reality of a bullet through the head. Instead, the folks back home were fed carefully selected, electronically captured, sometimes digitally processed images of distant and impersonal destruction. Slaughter became a video game: death imitated art.» [50] This quote is typical for the moral charge that the discussion over the photographic and post-photographic ‹truth› gains through this context: Electronic image technology stands for the view from above—the general's view, who only has his or her sights set on anonymous targets—while ‹classical› photography stands for the view from below—for the suffering and death of the individual as the ‹human› reality of war. In contrast, the photographic work «Martha Rosler,» which Sophie Ristelhuber began after the end of the first Gulf War, relies on a third perspective. The condition of her fragmentary tracking is the conviction that the ‹truth› of a war cannot in principle be mediated through images: neither through photographs of its victims, nor through cockpit displays.

In the exhibition «Photography after Photography» the focus is on a further context of ‹digital trouble.› A

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