9 April 2010

Throughout the MyWar exhibition, FACT will be publishing guest blog posts from looking at war and politics in the media. Matthew Taylor is a "twentysomething lawyer with interests in arts, music, philosophy, politics, and sci/tech..."
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In the acknowledgments to her 2004 collection, "Occupied", the American poet Carol Mirakove reminds us that "Creation is communal". The broken, disjointed flow of many of the pieces in her collection is well suited to delivering a sense of communal but diverse experience.

Her poem "faulty intelligence" deals with the mistaken bombing of an Afghan engagement party on 1 July 2002, and counterpoints a contemporise news report of the event with an account of the experience "on the ground".

Bush's expressions of sympathy are set against the bloody aftermath, the sadness of US soldiers against the carefree state of the victims immediately before the attack. What is most compelling is the sense that this violence comes from a clear blue sky - entirely unanticipated.

President BUSH called
President HAMID KARZAI
of Aghanistan picking up limbs
on Friday from streets & an orchard
to express carrying the wounded
his sympathy to the mosque

Excerpt from "Faulty Intelligence", by Carol Miroakove

We were reminded this week that the deaths of civilians in conflict - the "collateral damage", as military press officers would have it - are not always the result of faulty intelligence or accidents.

On Tuesday, the whistle blowing website Wikileaks released a video entitled "Collateral Murder". Consisting of footage shot from the gun camera of an Apache helicopter, it shows a dozen civilians gunned down, including two employees of the Reuters news agency.

As the Guardian noted,

"One of the helicopter crew is then heard saying that one of the group is shooting. But the video shows there is no shooting or even pointing of weapons. The men are standing around, apparently unperturbed."

From a clear blue sky comes unanticipated violence, the classic civilian experience of conflict.

An earlier blog post talked about the way operators of drone aircraft could be distanced from the effects of their actions, but as this video shows, such distancing is not always necessary for opponents to be dehumanised.

Dehumanisation - and the addictive effect of conflict are the key themes of Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar winning film "The Hurt Locker" (showing this Sunday, 11 April, at 3.00pm), but it has as its subject three men who experience the conflict at the closest range - an explosive ordnance disposal team charged with dealing with the improvised explosive devices that have become the hallmark of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.