Communicating Terror: Images of War by Photojournalists, Governments + Terrorist by Louie Palu

When the terrorist group ISIS aka the Islamic State released their video of the beheading of American journalist James Foley online, it was mostly widely seen as a still image (image 1) from the video released online. In image, Foley is seen on his knees in an orange jump suit somewhere in Syria, with a member of ISIS in a uniform standing above him in a position of power. This image is a direct reference to some of the very first images (image 2) of detainees at the U.S. military detention center in Guantanamo Bay released by the U.S. government. The U.S. government’s image from Guantanamo shows detainees in orange jumpsuits on their knees with U.S. soldiers standing above them. This is a groundbreaking moment in the use of photographic imagery, where terrorists are using imagery in direct response to the U.S. government’s photographs. It is in essence a war of photographs for the public to consume and build perceptions on. The news consuming public and the terrorists can only see Guantanamo through photographs and the public can only see ISIS through their visuals. They are both using the internet to spread their message and respond to each other using photographs.

The killing of James Foley and other journalists also sends a message that all  photography created by journalists of ISIS is virtually impossible. In turn, the U.S. government strictly controls journalists access to many military facilities and battle fields. So in many ways these must be imagined or only seen through the lens of the terrorists, phototographers or a government. My paper and series of photographs will compare the perceptions and representations using photographs created by governments, photojournalists like myself and terrorists.

Links to work my work (these are very loose edits of images):