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Re-thinking Abu Ghraib: A Discussion on the Abu Ghraib Images beyond the Iconic Reading

Kurdve, Nina LU (2012) KOVM12 20121
Division of Art History and Visual Studies
Abstract
The research objective for this thesis are two problematic yet interweaving occurrences observed in earlier research on the Abu Ghraib scandal (2004) and its image material. Firstly in terms of methodology, a restricted amount of images in which three single images, “Hooded Man”, “Man on Leash” and “Piled Bodies” are overrepresented and frequently regarded as descriptive for the scandal as such. Secondly in terms of theory and interpretation, a predominating iconic reading which hypothetically provided the three images with an iconic surface in terms of a “public face”, characterised by an object status; both when it comes to the images themselves, and the bodies depicted.

By means of Gillian Rose’s methodology of “three sites at which... (More)
The research objective for this thesis are two problematic yet interweaving occurrences observed in earlier research on the Abu Ghraib scandal (2004) and its image material. Firstly in terms of methodology, a restricted amount of images in which three single images, “Hooded Man”, “Man on Leash” and “Piled Bodies” are overrepresented and frequently regarded as descriptive for the scandal as such. Secondly in terms of theory and interpretation, a predominating iconic reading which hypothetically provided the three images with an iconic surface in terms of a “public face”, characterised by an object status; both when it comes to the images themselves, and the bodies depicted.

By means of Gillian Rose’s methodology of “three sites at which an image’s meaning is made”, and the abject theory presented by Julia Kristeva, the thesis seeks to penetrate the established “public face” in order to emphasise what may be obstructed by the surface layer, as well as to advocate a view on the depicted bodies as subjects rather than objects. A prime interest is the human body which is further treated in two separate aspects of “human” and “body”. A second interest is the digital qualities and context in which the Abu Ghraib images have received a perpetual life, are analysed and observed.

In conclusion, what is “hidden” or somewhat obstructed by the “public face” are several aspects of the abject, threatening the subject due to its closeness and notions of the real. The initial objective of reading the depicted bodies as subjects was so revised into an abject reading. A perspective of we/them is central in the encountering and reading of the Abu Ghraib images as it is found both in the iconic reading and the abject reading. Also, the digital qualities of the images and the digital context of the screen exert influence on the abject and the icon. The relationship between the abject and the icon presented could be regarded as one possible explanation of the dominant position of the iconic reading of the Abu Ghraib images. (Less)
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author
Kurdve, Nina LU
supervisor
organization
course
KOVM12 20121
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Nina Kurdve, Kurdve, Abu Ghraib, Iraq, war on terror, representations of violence, abject, abjection, icon, iconic reading, digital context, the screen, we/them, three sites of meaning, Kristeva, WJT Mitchell
language
English
id
2542011
date added to LUP
2012-08-20 10:48:35
date last changed
2012-08-20 10:48:35
@misc{2542011,
  abstract     = {The research objective for this thesis are two problematic yet interweaving occurrences observed in earlier research on the Abu Ghraib scandal (2004) and its image material. Firstly in terms of methodology, a restricted amount of images in which three single images, “Hooded Man”, “Man on Leash” and “Piled Bodies” are overrepresented and frequently regarded as descriptive for the scandal as such. Secondly in terms of theory and interpretation, a predominating iconic reading which hypothetically provided the three images with an iconic surface in terms of a “public face”, characterised by an object status; both when it comes to the images themselves, and the bodies depicted. 

By means of Gillian Rose’s methodology of “three sites at which an image’s meaning is made”, and the abject theory presented by Julia Kristeva, the thesis seeks to penetrate the established “public face” in order to emphasise what may be obstructed by the surface layer, as well as to advocate a view on the depicted bodies as subjects rather than objects. A prime interest is the human body which is further treated in two separate aspects of “human” and “body”. A second interest is the digital qualities and context in which the Abu Ghraib images have received a perpetual life, are analysed and observed. 

In conclusion, what is “hidden” or somewhat obstructed by the “public face” are several aspects of the abject, threatening the subject due to its closeness and notions of the real. The initial objective of reading the depicted bodies as subjects was so revised into an abject reading. A perspective of we/them is central in the encountering and reading of the Abu Ghraib images as it is found both in the iconic reading and the abject reading. Also, the digital qualities of the images and the digital context of the screen exert influence on the abject and the icon. The relationship between the abject and the icon presented could be regarded as one possible explanation of the dominant position of the iconic reading of the Abu Ghraib images.},
  author       = {Kurdve, Nina},
  keyword      = {Nina Kurdve,Kurdve,Abu Ghraib,Iraq,war on terror,representations of violence,abject,abjection,icon,iconic reading,digital context,the screen,we/them,three sites of meaning,Kristeva,WJT Mitchell},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Re-thinking Abu Ghraib: A Discussion on the Abu Ghraib Images beyond the Iconic Reading},
  year         = {2012},
}