"Resist the probability of any image or information whatever. Be more virtual than events themselves, do not seek to re-establish the truth, we do not have the means, but do not be duped, and to that end re-immerse the war and all the information in the virtuality from whence they come. Turn deterrence back against itself. Be meteorologically sensitive to stupidity." Jean Baudrillard, The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, page 66
If, as Baudrillard argues, tv can make an unreal war real, can NOT tv (tv as stand in for the media/press at large) make a real war NOT take place?
When I returned from Honduras a week after President Zeleya was overthrown in a coup d'etat I struggled with one thing---where was the story of what was happening on the ground? Of what I had seen with my own eyes? It wasn't in the New York Times. It wasn't on CNN. The press cared about Michael Jackson. So the world cared about Michael Jackson. No one cared about military coups. No one even knew about military coups.
I thought of Baudrillard's The Gulf War Did Not Take Place theory, and wondered, could the converse of his theory be true, too? Is "tv" (as stand in for all media/press) now so equivalent to reality that if it does not document something, said 'thing' may as well have never happened? Do we choose (directly or indirectly) to come only into contact with comfortable news and thereby omit whole parts of history? Where is our agency in the stories that are and aren't getting told?
This poster asks viewers to consider and reconsider that which is too often taken for granted---the accuracy of the press; the ability to understand everything that is happening in the world from the comfort of your own laptop (or neighborhood news stand). It aims to highlight the way The News can (not) present whatever 'news' it pleases (they give us Jay Leno instead of al-Bashir). In doing so the poster does not lay out a specific course of action. Instead, it encourages thought on the idea of meeting omission with emission. Emission of energy, of thought, of care in taking personal responsibility to find the news which The News omits. This is the kind of "sensitivity to stupidity" which Baudrillard calls for. In 2009, the whole story is out there to be found, it just may not be as easy to find as opening Time Magazine. It may require news which is less comfortable; it will require opening your eyes.
Detournement: This poster subverts as it subverts.
Time covers (standing in for the media and press at large) bombard us with pop-cultural images (presented as news) which make no attempt to challenge us, which allow us to feel content in our grand understanding of the whole wide world. As an iconic media image, the eye from Un Chien Andalou is not so different. It is not radical, is not unheard of, is, perhaps, just as unchallenging as the Time covers. For me, it is precisely this iconic status (only further reified by its use on the poster) which opens the door for the radical to succeed. The use of a well-known image is a way of working within the system, a way of taking the radical one step at a time (as Enzensberger might encourage). A viewer's recognition of the eye (if not as this eye, then as an eye) is what gives him a way into the 'meaning' of the poster. In presenting a familiar image, the poster understands its own limits---it cannot push the viewer too far; it must play on what is already there to encourage something new.
Store 24 (a magazine sized copy of the poster was placed over the stack of Times; it's next to Newsweek)
the minimart next to au bon pain
Rock periodicals room (it's mixed in there in a few places...)
Rock periodicals room