Rachel Somerstein
Winter 2013

Media, War, & the Future of Collective Memory


On the night of January 16, 1991, United States forces pummeled Baghdad, and CNN’s cameras kept rolling. Green nighttime still and film images, the product of “starlight systems” developed and rolled out by broadcasters for the first time during the Gulf War, appeared close to the action. But this cinema-verité-style footage belied the media’s limited access to the battlefield…. Historians and critics alike have since written extensively about the media’s fictional representation of the war, with Jean Baudrillard even devoting a book to the topic (1995’sThe Gulf War Did Not Take Place), but precision bombs and bloodlessness are the images we saw, the images that have largely been invoked by the media to commemorate and signify the war, and thus are largely the images we (collectively) remember.

Read the rest of the article in Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism.