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The Real War
Opening Date
29/05/2010
Closing Date
14/08/2010
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"Freedom is the freedom to choose a channel"
(Schema, 2004-06)

The exhibition "The Real War" addresses the battle over the representation and interpretation of reality. It is Sean Snyder’s first solo exhibition in Israel, and one of the few one-person exhibitions staged heretofore at the Israeli Center for Digital Art. Snyder’s works are based on long-term analysis of images produced by amateur and professional stills photographers, photojournalists, and amateur video photographers; flickering as well as static images extracted from diverse databases and media archives. Surveying Snyder’s archive one encounters a world of images originating from different places around the globe, some of them open to the West, while others are closed to it or, rather, closed to a physical encounter, yet broadcast images "to the world." It is a world of media images, and Snyder is its archivist. He collects, saves, backups, arranges, categorizes, catalogs, and labels the images swiftly passing on screen, which are screened over and over again. For many years he has been feverishly attempting to edit this sequence of images, by examining and re-arranging them to introduce some logic. 

Snyder’s methods for the images’ labeling and charting employ the media’s own tactics: he catalogs the material based on camera movements (e.g. zoom in and zoom out); films taken on Hi8, VHS, S-VHS; digital photography and photographs taken on cell phones; blackand- white versus color photography; propaganda materials (black propaganda, white propaganda); televised documentation of wars from East and West; Western commercials, Arab commercials, commercials from the (Near and Far) East. The labeling and examination of these materials by various methods and parameters call to mind not only the archivist’s work, but also that of the detective who attempts to solve a murder case, or that of an intelligence agent who traces every detail and piece of information pertaining to the mystery in question. As in the cracking of a murder case, Snyder gathers multiple specimens from his material. He blows up digital frames to the point where the digital grid (the pixelization) or the analog granularity is exposed; he divides the image and focuses on isolated details within a frame, expands the boundaries of digital resolution, while comparing the different resolutions of various media events. 

In Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner (1982), Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a detective trying to track down replicants, sits in front of the screen at home, examining snapshots found at the scene of the crime. He scans a picture, reviews it thoroughly, glossing over its digital surface, instructing the computer, demanding exponential enhancement. With every digital stretch into the heart of the image, more and more details are revealed. He scans a blurred image until he finally finds what he was after—a transparent scale on the android’s face. 

Another link to Blade Runner is the image-ridden media world. The film opens with a chaotic scene. Scores of screens fill the futuristic city, broadcasting commercials, news, and reports into the urban space. It is a media world, a universe of robots and androids, somewhat reminiscent of the way in which Snyder explores the media images arriving from North Korea, for example. 

The works in the exhibition may be divided into two major bodies. One is Index, which includes forty photographs of the storage hardware USB flash drive, numbered cardboard dossiers, celluloid film, a VHS tape, a DVD, a CDR, all marked and labeled, bearing numbers and letters. The video works which belong to the body of Index works are non-narrative; in other words, they do not recount a continuous story. Their narrative is the study of the development of digital photography. At the same time, the works are not abstract. They refer to historical events which may account for the development of the re-presentation of historical events, the development of observation technology, and to what extent it is associated with political ideologies. As a single body, the works explore digitally transferred analog photographic material or photographs/video taken with digital cameras transferred to photographs taken with mobile phones.

Thus, for example, in Untitled (Index UKR 2797_Orange / RGB) (2007) the camera follows a crowd demonstrating during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (2004-05). The camera passes over the demonstrators, but the more it scans the crowd, the more blurred the image becomes, until it is reduced to mere orange movement on screen. The imagery is placed through progressive digital compression levels until the image ultimately disintegrates before our very eyes. Those familiar with demonstrations know that documentation is one of the major elements in any demonstration nowadays. Documentation during demonstrations is intended for various purposes, beyond the event’s broadcasting to the general public. The authorities perpetuate the event in order to identify the demonstrators, whereas the latter document it in order to protect themselves from the authorities and the power employed against them. Compression of the photographic material enables presentation of the political event without exposing the participants.

Untitled (Index SU 3154_Novosti Press Agency / Blank Frames) (2007)
presents a similar digital process. This time the source material is a 16mm newsreel progressively compressed to mobile phone resolution. The only image is the photographic material which is transformed during the compression process to the point where a sequence of enlarged grayscale pixels is obtained.

Untitled (Index AS 2947_Al Qaida / As Sahab / Sony Camera Montage) (2007) 
follows the manipulation of blurring and concealment implemented by international networks, using pixelization of the photographic means to broadcast materials originating in the Al- Qaida organization. Snyder performs a frame-by-frame analysis in an attempt to identify the exact model Sony digital video camera used in an Al-Qaida release, conflicting with repeated media reports of the organization’s use of bad quality videotape. Why do the media channels distort the organization’s photographic capacities? Is it to promote the illusion that the organization is experiencing a crisis or lacks advanced digital means? What is the impression received from observation of such manipulated materials?

Untitled (Index DPRK 3724_North Korean Central Television) (2009-10)
presents images from the North Korean media from 2009. The DPRK is one of the most isolated countries in the world. Its citizens live in an information void, and the only information accessible about the world outside Korea goes through the filter of the authorities in the form of a program appearing irregularly during the evening news broadcast "News of the World," which portrays the world as a threatening place. The program presents "fixed" themes: wars, accidents, natural disasters, alienating technology, global protest, extreme physical human activity, and so on. Can we learn something from the image of this alien outer world? Can these broadcasts teach us something about the way in which our world is presented or about the world that functions as an ideological supplement of the shrinking and self-destructive pockets of resistance to the process of globalization?

Untitled (Index IR 3958_Iran / Election Protest (2009)
was edited from video footage taken with cellular phones and posted on YouTube by demonstrators during the 2009 Iranian elections. The images edited in this video piece isolate selected moments which present the use of cellular devices to capture images as tactical weapons. All the images feature the backs of the cell-phone users, likewise shot with cell phones. The somewhat pixelized images are the visual counterpart to social media networks underlying the transformational role of citizens as journalists, for it was through these images that the public was able to learn about the demonstrations and the casualties they entailed, in a place where the international television networks were prohibited to photograph, and the only source of information was the Iranian television networks serving the regime or those citizenjournalists who sent independent materials for us to learn about the events in Iran during the demonstrations. Through Snyder’s digital processing one may discern how different technologies adapt themselves to the viewer’s role as artist, and how they open channels of investigation up, touching upon the audience’s role as a producer vis-a-vis historical events (a similar phenomenon occurred in Israel shortly before and during the Israeli attack on Gaza, when Palestinian citizens sent materials to blogs during the bombings). 

Snyder is one of the most important artists performing researchbased projects, emphasizing the exploration and re-presentation of war images, from the Cold War to the conflict in Afghanistan. Rather than a response to geo-political issues, Snyder’s research is intended to study the re-presentation of media-mediated events. In some respects, it is an attempt to study the media as mediators of information and their ability to represent the reality transpiring beyond the television screen and the printed page. This process endeavors to shed light on fundamental questions about representation, while employing examples from the fields of mass media, documentary cinema, urban spaces, and architecture. Snyder harnesses the tools of global media as infrastructure for his activity. The video works, texts, and images function in his systematic investigation as evidence of the journey into the inherent code of the digitally produced and processed image, alongside an overt montage and the use of propaganda techniques, in order to explore the accessibility and transparency of the information. Via test cases of urban planning, architecture and media, Snyder traces the fluctuations in the meaning of the data and its processing as it is translated from one ideological system to another. 

In the group of works that preceded Index, which forms the second body of work in the exhibition, Snyder focused on the visual aspects of new political representations and the technology underlying the production of digital images. Since Israel is one of the leading countries in the production of visual images of "war" and in development of vision technologies, there is urgency in examining the representation of images produced here through Snyder’s critical filter. Thus, for example, in the Second Lebanon War, the Israeli and international public received a great deal of information through blogs of Lebanese citizens who overnight transformed into field journalists, or to use a now prevalent term, "citizen journalists." It thus happened that during the attack on Gaza, when the IDF prohibited Israeli and international photojournalists from entering and reporting from the field, and apart from a local broadcasting station, no direct reports from the battlefield were available (in an era when battlefield reports have become a routine following the US army’s 2003 invasion of Iraq), cellular phones became a primary source for the world media. These were supplemented by websites and blogs where short video excerpts were uploaded, documenting the damages of the bombings, while the Israeli army chose to post video excerpts of smart bombs on YouTube as a response to the use of the Internet by citizen journalists. 

Analepsis (2003-04) presents a depiction of various locations from satellite television news broadcasts. The images scan locations, landscapes, and familiar infrastructures broadcast sequentially during a news report. This mode of presentation generates an illusion of coherence and chronological continuity in news from different parts of the world, offering the viewer a world view possibly natural, possibly media generated. In this work Snyder isolated the images from their news narrative, without sound, subtitles or news company logo. The sequence of images follows the chronological order of the broadcast, yet it is divided by camera movements to expose camera techniques in news coverage. Those who watch the news regularly may identify identical images repeated in different reports. When a given channel lacks up-todate video footage about unrest on the Temple Mount, for example, it will broadcast existing stills or video footage of the Temple Mount, regardless of the current events, to accompany the narrated story. Loyal viewers of a given network are likely to discern stock photographs extracted from databases, used as support for a specific item, because a picture is worth a thousand words.

Schema (Television) (2004-06) questions television’s authoritativeness as a reliable source of information. Working with categorical indexes of programming themes from satellite television, the work introduces excerpts of cookery shows from different parts of the world, news promos, a sequence of weather forecasts. These are occasionally interspersed with news from the Middle East or, more accurately—of a crisis in the Middle East, such as a caption referring to the Second Lebanon War. The video utilizes the potential of the remote control as a device of unpredictable montage, and the sequence of images is replete with humor: for example, the way in which the hygiene tendency is presented in different networks, emphasizing the impossibility of attributing truthfulness to the televisual image. In this work, as in Analepsis, the Israeli viewer is likely to identify many images with the Israeli networks or with foreign network news broadcast.
Thus, for example, in Untitled (Index UKR 2797_Orange / RGB) (2007) the camera follows a crowd demonstrating during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (2004-05). The camera passes over the demonstrators, but the more it scans the crowd, the more blurred the image becomes, until it is reduced to mere orange movement on screen. The imagery is placed through progressive digital compression levels until the image ultimately disintegrates before our very eyes. Those familiar with demonstrations know that documentation is one of the major elements in any demonstration nowadays. Documentation during demonstrations is intended for various purposes, beyond the event’s broadcasting to the general public. The authorities perpetuate the event in order to identify the demonstrators, whereas the latter document it in order to protect themselves from the authorities and the power employed against them. Compression of the photographic material enables presentation of the political event without exposing the participants.

Perusal of Snyder’s archives and the manner in which he explores the gathered and scrutinized materials calls to mind Marcel Broodthaers’s later works—his series of films created between 1957 and the year of his death, 1976, where one may identify the beginnings of questions pertaining to the medium of photography, ever relevant questions about the photographic medium as well as the digital media pertaining to original and copy, resolution, fragmentation of the image. An example of research combining two different mediums is Broodthaers’s film A Voyage on the North Sea (1973-74). The work begins with several seconds in which celluloid is screened through the projector without any photographic images. All the viewer can see is the film bearing signs of light exposure. Subsequently Broodthaers shifts between two different mediums: an amateur painting from the late 19th century of an archetypical European ship and a 20th century photograph of a ship sailing against a modern urban backdrop. One is exposed to this information as the camera zooms in and out of the painting and the photograph. Initially we observe the entire painting followed by fragments of it. When the lens zooms further and further in on the painting, all we can see are the brushstrokes on the canvas without the actual image. The camera similarly zooms in on the photograph, exposing the surface of photographic granularity. The work unfolds via 83 "pages" presented in a sequence. 

Broodthaers, who is known mainly for his investigations and critique of institutional-museum representation, has, in his last years, turned to criticism of media representation. Another work relating to the same 19th century painting, Bateau Tableau (1973), is based on a slide-projection of the painting, testing the limits of cinema. The work is spiced with humor as it composes a still image from a sequence of images in time. 

Snyder employs a similar technique in Casio, Seiko, Sheraton, Toyota, Mars (2004-05) which combines still images and video footage from amateur, governmental, and photojournalist sources with the artist’s essayist commentary. At first sight a film about Iraq, this video turns out to examine the acceptance of international (mainly American) consumer products on all sides of ideological divides, exposing foreign corporate involvement (or interests) in Iraq and Afghanistan. In particular, the video explores the conventions and ethics of photojournalism which transform the news viewer into a consumer, and the photographer into a looter. 

In the two-track video installation Two Oblique Representations of a Given Place (Pyongyang) (2001-04) Snyder explores one of the most beautiful places in the world, inaccessible to Western media or any other world network without censorship or clear instructions as to what may and what may not be shot. One video channel was edited from amateur video footage taken by an American engineer on a visit to the DPRK in 1995. The material was transferred from Hi-8 NTSC, to VHS NTSC, to Mini-DV PAL, and further digitized. The footage shows Pyongyang through the eyes of a tourist escorted by a guide. The camera zooms in on details, trying to capture as much as possible beyond that which is dictated by the guide. Observation of the materials reveals a discrepancy between the audible and the visible, often conflicting with the guide’s description, underscoring the distinction between what can and what cannot be filmed. The second channel was edited from the DPRK documentary film Pyongyang in Four Seasons produced in the mid-1990s for internal purposes. The images document the cityscape of Pyongyang as an idealized socialist urban landscape.

Snyder’s works offer a voyage into the deep recesses of media imagery, images originating in different places throughout the world, including conflict areas and various civilizations. Nevertheless, his work does not engage in an anthropological study in the conventional sense of the word, nor does it set out to explore the different documented cultures. The materials are largely sampled from the screen, and the researcher does not travel the world in search of new cultures. The studied culture is the culture of global media and the battle of digital image distributors over the representation of the world. In his artistic practice Snyder operates as an anthropologist of the media, exploring the representation of the world, a world which in the 18th century, prior to the invention of photography, was represented by painting drawing and etching.


Galit Eilat
 

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 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis
 

The Real War

"Freedom is the freedom to choose a channel"
(Schema, 2004-06)

The exhibition "The Real War" addresses the battle over the representation and interpretation of reality. It is Sean Snyder’s first solo exhibition in Israel, and one of the few one-person exhibitions staged heretofore at the Israeli Center for Digital Art. Snyder’s works are based on long-term analysis of images produced by amateur and professional stills photographers, photojournalists, and amateur video photographers; flickering as well as static images extracted from diverse databases and media archives. Surveying Snyder’s archive one encounters a world of images originating from different places around the globe, some of them open to the West, while others are closed to it or, rather, closed to a physical encounter, yet broadcast images "to the world." It is a world of media images, and Snyder is its archivist. He collects, saves, backups, arranges, categorizes, catalogs, and labels the images swiftly passing on screen, which are screened over and over again. For many years he has been feverishly attempting to edit this sequence of images, by examining and re-arranging them to introduce some logic. 

Snyder’s methods for the images’ labeling and charting employ the media’s own tactics: he catalogs the material based on camera movements (e.g. zoom in and zoom out); films taken on Hi8, VHS, S-VHS; digital photography and photographs taken on cell phones; blackand- white versus color photography; propaganda materials (black propaganda, white propaganda); televised documentation of wars from East and West; Western commercials, Arab commercials, commercials from the (Near and Far) East. The labeling and examination of these materials by various methods and parameters call to mind not only the archivist’s work, but also that of the detective who attempts to solve a murder case, or that of an intelligence agent who traces every detail and piece of information pertaining to the mystery in question. As in the cracking of a murder case, Snyder gathers multiple specimens from his material. He blows up digital frames to the point where the digital grid (the pixelization) or the analog granularity is exposed; he divides the image and focuses on isolated details within a frame, expands the boundaries of digital resolution, while comparing the different resolutions of various media events. 

In Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner (1982), Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a detective trying to track down replicants, sits in front of the screen at home, examining snapshots found at the scene of the crime. He scans a picture, reviews it thoroughly, glossing over its digital surface, instructing the computer, demanding exponential enhancement. With every digital stretch into the heart of the image, more and more details are revealed. He scans a blurred image until he finally finds what he was after—a transparent scale on the android’s face. 

Another link to Blade Runner is the image-ridden media world. The film opens with a chaotic scene. Scores of screens fill the futuristic city, broadcasting commercials, news, and reports into the urban space. It is a media world, a universe of robots and androids, somewhat reminiscent of the way in which Snyder explores the media images arriving from North Korea, for example. 

The works in the exhibition may be divided into two major bodies. One is Index, which includes forty photographs of the storage hardware USB flash drive, numbered cardboard dossiers, celluloid film, a VHS tape, a DVD, a CDR, all marked and labeled, bearing numbers and letters. The video works which belong to the body of Index works are non-narrative; in other words, they do not recount a continuous story. Their narrative is the study of the development of digital photography. At the same time, the works are not abstract. They refer to historical events which may account for the development of the re-presentation of historical events, the development of observation technology, and to what extent it is associated with political ideologies. As a single body, the works explore digitally transferred analog photographic material or photographs/video taken with digital cameras transferred to photographs taken with mobile phones.

Thus, for example, in Untitled (Index UKR 2797_Orange / RGB) (2007) the camera follows a crowd demonstrating during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (2004-05). The camera passes over the demonstrators, but the more it scans the crowd, the more blurred the image becomes, until it is reduced to mere orange movement on screen. The imagery is placed through progressive digital compression levels until the image ultimately disintegrates before our very eyes. Those familiar with demonstrations know that documentation is one of the major elements in any demonstration nowadays. Documentation during demonstrations is intended for various purposes, beyond the event’s broadcasting to the general public. The authorities perpetuate the event in order to identify the demonstrators, whereas the latter document it in order to protect themselves from the authorities and the power employed against them. Compression of the photographic material enables presentation of the political event without exposing the participants.

Untitled (Index SU 3154_Novosti Press Agency / Blank Frames) (2007)
presents a similar digital process. This time the source material is a 16mm newsreel progressively compressed to mobile phone resolution. The only image is the photographic material which is transformed during the compression process to the point where a sequence of enlarged grayscale pixels is obtained.

Untitled (Index AS 2947_Al Qaida / As Sahab / Sony Camera Montage) (2007) 
follows the manipulation of blurring and concealment implemented by international networks, using pixelization of the photographic means to broadcast materials originating in the Al- Qaida organization. Snyder performs a frame-by-frame analysis in an attempt to identify the exact model Sony digital video camera used in an Al-Qaida release, conflicting with repeated media reports of the organization’s use of bad quality videotape. Why do the media channels distort the organization’s photographic capacities? Is it to promote the illusion that the organization is experiencing a crisis or lacks advanced digital means? What is the impression received from observation of such manipulated materials?

Untitled (Index DPRK 3724_North Korean Central Television) (2009-10)
presents images from the North Korean media from 2009. The DPRK is one of the most isolated countries in the world. Its citizens live in an information void, and the only information accessible about the world outside Korea goes through the filter of the authorities in the form of a program appearing irregularly during the evening news broadcast "News of the World," which portrays the world as a threatening place. The program presents "fixed" themes: wars, accidents, natural disasters, alienating technology, global protest, extreme physical human activity, and so on. Can we learn something from the image of this alien outer world? Can these broadcasts teach us something about the way in which our world is presented or about the world that functions as an ideological supplement of the shrinking and self-destructive pockets of resistance to the process of globalization?

Untitled (Index IR 3958_Iran / Election Protest (2009)
was edited from video footage taken with cellular phones and posted on YouTube by demonstrators during the 2009 Iranian elections. The images edited in this video piece isolate selected moments which present the use of cellular devices to capture images as tactical weapons. All the images feature the backs of the cell-phone users, likewise shot with cell phones. The somewhat pixelized images are the visual counterpart to social media networks underlying the transformational role of citizens as journalists, for it was through these images that the public was able to learn about the demonstrations and the casualties they entailed, in a place where the international television networks were prohibited to photograph, and the only source of information was the Iranian television networks serving the regime or those citizenjournalists who sent independent materials for us to learn about the events in Iran during the demonstrations. Through Snyder’s digital processing one may discern how different technologies adapt themselves to the viewer’s role as artist, and how they open channels of investigation up, touching upon the audience’s role as a producer vis-a-vis historical events (a similar phenomenon occurred in Israel shortly before and during the Israeli attack on Gaza, when Palestinian citizens sent materials to blogs during the bombings). 

Snyder is one of the most important artists performing researchbased projects, emphasizing the exploration and re-presentation of war images, from the Cold War to the conflict in Afghanistan. Rather than a response to geo-political issues, Snyder’s research is intended to study the re-presentation of media-mediated events. In some respects, it is an attempt to study the media as mediators of information and their ability to represent the reality transpiring beyond the television screen and the printed page. This process endeavors to shed light on fundamental questions about representation, while employing examples from the fields of mass media, documentary cinema, urban spaces, and architecture. Snyder harnesses the tools of global media as infrastructure for his activity. The video works, texts, and images function in his systematic investigation as evidence of the journey into the inherent code of the digitally produced and processed image, alongside an overt montage and the use of propaganda techniques, in order to explore the accessibility and transparency of the information. Via test cases of urban planning, architecture and media, Snyder traces the fluctuations in the meaning of the data and its processing as it is translated from one ideological system to another. 

In the group of works that preceded Index, which forms the second body of work in the exhibition, Snyder focused on the visual aspects of new political representations and the technology underlying the production of digital images. Since Israel is one of the leading countries in the production of visual images of "war" and in development of vision technologies, there is urgency in examining the representation of images produced here through Snyder’s critical filter. Thus, for example, in the Second Lebanon War, the Israeli and international public received a great deal of information through blogs of Lebanese citizens who overnight transformed into field journalists, or to use a now prevalent term, "citizen journalists." It thus happened that during the attack on Gaza, when the IDF prohibited Israeli and international photojournalists from entering and reporting from the field, and apart from a local broadcasting station, no direct reports from the battlefield were available (in an era when battlefield reports have become a routine following the US army’s 2003 invasion of Iraq), cellular phones became a primary source for the world media. These were supplemented by websites and blogs where short video excerpts were uploaded, documenting the damages of the bombings, while the Israeli army chose to post video excerpts of smart bombs on YouTube as a response to the use of the Internet by citizen journalists. 

Analepsis (2003-04) presents a depiction of various locations from satellite television news broadcasts. The images scan locations, landscapes, and familiar infrastructures broadcast sequentially during a news report. This mode of presentation generates an illusion of coherence and chronological continuity in news from different parts of the world, offering the viewer a world view possibly natural, possibly media generated. In this work Snyder isolated the images from their news narrative, without sound, subtitles or news company logo. The sequence of images follows the chronological order of the broadcast, yet it is divided by camera movements to expose camera techniques in news coverage. Those who watch the news regularly may identify identical images repeated in different reports. When a given channel lacks up-todate video footage about unrest on the Temple Mount, for example, it will broadcast existing stills or video footage of the Temple Mount, regardless of the current events, to accompany the narrated story. Loyal viewers of a given network are likely to discern stock photographs extracted from databases, used as support for a specific item, because a picture is worth a thousand words.

Schema (Television) (2004-06) questions television’s authoritativeness as a reliable source of information. Working with categorical indexes of programming themes from satellite television, the work introduces excerpts of cookery shows from different parts of the world, news promos, a sequence of weather forecasts. These are occasionally interspersed with news from the Middle East or, more accurately—of a crisis in the Middle East, such as a caption referring to the Second Lebanon War. The video utilizes the potential of the remote control as a device of unpredictable montage, and the sequence of images is replete with humor: for example, the way in which the hygiene tendency is presented in different networks, emphasizing the impossibility of attributing truthfulness to the televisual image. In this work, as in Analepsis, the Israeli viewer is likely to identify many images with the Israeli networks or with foreign network news broadcast.
Thus, for example, in Untitled (Index UKR 2797_Orange / RGB) (2007) the camera follows a crowd demonstrating during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (2004-05). The camera passes over the demonstrators, but the more it scans the crowd, the more blurred the image becomes, until it is reduced to mere orange movement on screen. The imagery is placed through progressive digital compression levels until the image ultimately disintegrates before our very eyes. Those familiar with demonstrations know that documentation is one of the major elements in any demonstration nowadays. Documentation during demonstrations is intended for various purposes, beyond the event’s broadcasting to the general public. The authorities perpetuate the event in order to identify the demonstrators, whereas the latter document it in order to protect themselves from the authorities and the power employed against them. Compression of the photographic material enables presentation of the political event without exposing the participants.

Perusal of Snyder’s archives and the manner in which he explores the gathered and scrutinized materials calls to mind Marcel Broodthaers’s later works—his series of films created between 1957 and the year of his death, 1976, where one may identify the beginnings of questions pertaining to the medium of photography, ever relevant questions about the photographic medium as well as the digital media pertaining to original and copy, resolution, fragmentation of the image. An example of research combining two different mediums is Broodthaers’s film A Voyage on the North Sea (1973-74). The work begins with several seconds in which celluloid is screened through the projector without any photographic images. All the viewer can see is the film bearing signs of light exposure. Subsequently Broodthaers shifts between two different mediums: an amateur painting from the late 19th century of an archetypical European ship and a 20th century photograph of a ship sailing against a modern urban backdrop. One is exposed to this information as the camera zooms in and out of the painting and the photograph. Initially we observe the entire painting followed by fragments of it. When the lens zooms further and further in on the painting, all we can see are the brushstrokes on the canvas without the actual image. The camera similarly zooms in on the photograph, exposing the surface of photographic granularity. The work unfolds via 83 "pages" presented in a sequence. 

Broodthaers, who is known mainly for his investigations and critique of institutional-museum representation, has, in his last years, turned to criticism of media representation. Another work relating to the same 19th century painting, Bateau Tableau (1973), is based on a slide-projection of the painting, testing the limits of cinema. The work is spiced with humor as it composes a still image from a sequence of images in time. 

Snyder employs a similar technique in Casio, Seiko, Sheraton, Toyota, Mars (2004-05) which combines still images and video footage from amateur, governmental, and photojournalist sources with the artist’s essayist commentary. At first sight a film about Iraq, this video turns out to examine the acceptance of international (mainly American) consumer products on all sides of ideological divides, exposing foreign corporate involvement (or interests) in Iraq and Afghanistan. In particular, the video explores the conventions and ethics of photojournalism which transform the news viewer into a consumer, and the photographer into a looter. 

In the two-track video installation Two Oblique Representations of a Given Place (Pyongyang) (2001-04) Snyder explores one of the most beautiful places in the world, inaccessible to Western media or any other world network without censorship or clear instructions as to what may and what may not be shot. One video channel was edited from amateur video footage taken by an American engineer on a visit to the DPRK in 1995. The material was transferred from Hi-8 NTSC, to VHS NTSC, to Mini-DV PAL, and further digitized. The footage shows Pyongyang through the eyes of a tourist escorted by a guide. The camera zooms in on details, trying to capture as much as possible beyond that which is dictated by the guide. Observation of the materials reveals a discrepancy between the audible and the visible, often conflicting with the guide’s description, underscoring the distinction between what can and what cannot be filmed. The second channel was edited from the DPRK documentary film Pyongyang in Four Seasons produced in the mid-1990s for internal purposes. The images document the cityscape of Pyongyang as an idealized socialist urban landscape.

Snyder’s works offer a voyage into the deep recesses of media imagery, images originating in different places throughout the world, including conflict areas and various civilizations. Nevertheless, his work does not engage in an anthropological study in the conventional sense of the word, nor does it set out to explore the different documented cultures. The materials are largely sampled from the screen, and the researcher does not travel the world in search of new cultures. The studied culture is the culture of global media and the battle of digital image distributors over the representation of the world. In his artistic practice Snyder operates as an anthropologist of the media, exploring the representation of the world, a world which in the 18th century, prior to the invention of photography, was represented by painting drawing and etching.


Galit Eilat
 

 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis
 

 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis
 

Tribal Fire
Eyal Danon