On the Visual Aesthetics of Lethal Weapons

Fadi Shayya

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


We look at them with an odd sense of sympathy. Forensic traces of violence nudge our feelings, but their objectfullness (after Latour) keeps us distant from any empathetic connection. Essential as they may be to the social construction of war, they often loom in pictures with a Modern duality of technology or ruin. A technology pausing for a photo shoot or a ruin documented with pity. A technology boasting the promise of capability or a ruin longing for an apt eulogy. These are the forgotten soldiers of war and the overlooked sociotechnical relations that make our worlds. These are the conscripted (after Akrich & Latour) non-humans whose destruction transforms them into burdensome objects. We call them: military vehicles. Their picture mode is not what mutes and blackboxes them, but the anthropocentric ethics of aesthetics that humans bestow on their worlds. In this short presentation, I raise questions on ethics of aesthetical representations of pictures technologies from the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Specifically, I analyze pictures of bombs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and armored vehicles (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles) in their pristine and destroyed duality of representation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2018
EventPictures of War: The Still Image in Conflict since 1945 - Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 May 201825 May 2018


ConferencePictures of War
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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