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On David Campbell: Blindness...but what if there's nothing to look at anyway?

by Anna

The key agenda of David Campbell’s article “Horrific Blindness: Images of Death in Contemporary Media” is to unravel some of the hidden narratives behind why certain images of horror and violence go unpublished in mainstream media. Yet, its secondary agenda seems to be to actually tell some of these stories that hitherto have gone untold in their fullness, for example, the Bahr el Ghazal famine (68 – 69). The stories that Campbell tells are in part to illustrate his points, and on the other hand for the sake of their being told. Given this, it strikes as somewhat odd that these stories themselves go unillustrated. Perhaps Campbell sees that the fact that these stories have been told at all as some sort of inroads to the problems he outlines, in which case, the power of no images comes to the fore.

One horrifying story in the news in 2007 and 2008 was the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal. This disappearance, like many disappearances, was characterised by a continuing lack of images, as Madeleine went unfound, with only her portrait and the blank façade of the holiday park repeating in the media day after day. Hope for her safe return was constantly problematised by this lack of images. This lack created a scenario wherein the worst (whatever that may have been for each viewer) remained and remains constantly possible.

The Telegraph online archive page lists the most recent articles about Madeleine McCann in the newspaper. The page repeats the same three photographs of Madeleine over and over. Likewise, almost half of the 25 headlines relate to possibilities of sighting, spotting and new photographs of Madeleine. Although rumoured and evidently desired, none of these new visual occurrences seem to have ever been substantiated. In a way then, Campbell, by denying the reader a visual form to cling to, will not allow for the stories told in his article to be placed into history, the refusal of images refuses the possibility that those stories be over or resolved

Works Cited

Horrific Blindness: Images of Death in Contemporary Media
Author: David Campbell*

Source: Journal for Cultural Research, Volume 8, Issue 1 January 2004 , pages 55 - 74

Publisher: Routledge 

Routledge is the preferred journal publishing partner for many of the world’s most prestigious learned societies and associations, such as: Regional Studies Association; British Educational Research Association; Society for Psychotherapy Research; European Accounting Association; National Communications Association; Oxfam, and the Australasian Association of Philosophy, to name but a few.

Madeleine McCann – Latest News of the Search – Telegraph.co.uk accessed 12 October 2008


* David Campbell is Professor of Cultural and Political Geography at Durham University (UK), where he convenes the Politics-State-Space research group and serves as an associate director of the Durham Centre for Advanced Photography Studies and the International Boundaries Research Unit. His research deals with the visual culture of geopolitics and international relations, political theory and global geopolitics, and US security policy.

4 comments:

  1. "One horrifying story in the news in 2007 and 2008 was the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal. This disappearance, like many disappearances, was characterised by a continuing lack of images, as Madeleine went unfound, with only her portrait and the blank façade of the holiday park repeating in the media day after day."

    I beg to differ here.

    There may have been very few images of Madeleine, the actual victim of an unsolved crime. But there was no shortage of photos of her parents, posing as victims - although how they wanted us to believe that they were victims while emerging from the church in Praia da Luz on the 12th of May 2007, only 9 days after their daughter vanished into thin air (not to mention that it was the day of Madeleine's 4th birthday), smiling from ear to ear and basking in the public's and the media attention, remains a mystery to me.

    There are dozens, hundreds, thousands of images of the parents, images that more often than not, broke the limits of good taste and decency. Whether or not they adequately illustrated the tragedy of Madeleine, is an issue that merits a discussion of its own.

    For the record, and on a personal level, most of said images illustrated the horror of the little girl's destiny more aptly than any thousand words.

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  2. In the Madeleine McCann case, "there is nothing to look at anyway" may be quite applicable. Didn't she die on 3 May in the holiday apartment, her parents are believed to have disposed of her body and the abduction was staged to divert attention from the true story. Then what the point of showing photos, it was all a charade.

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  3. I'm sorry, but am I the only one missing what is intended in this article?

    What does this gentleman want?

    Even if the McCann abduction allucination were to be true, does he expect the kidnapper to take pictures and keep feeding the news so that we would have Madeleine's face updated?

    Or, if, as we all know, she was killed that night, does he want pictures of David Payne striking Madeleine, of that same gentleman hitting Kate, of Gerry digging at the beach, of the body in the freezer, of it decomposing in the trunk of the infamous rented car or of it being cremated out in some field? (Yes, I'm avoiding pictures of an "adult" nature...)

    I think I'm losing the ability to read. Or at least to understand some things.

    Textusa

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  4. Pois.E há muito a dizer sobre as fotos de Maddie....
    Qual a razão de ser uma foto,quando era mias novinha,a que aparece nos cartazes?

    E as outras? Seria alguma tirada cá,na P. da Luz?

    Porquê aquela,com o cabelo mais curto(supostamente) e aparentando para aí 2 anitos e qq. coisa,pouca?

    ****
    Joana:quanto à informação que colocou acerca de que é eo que faz David Campbell,eu pergunto: o rosadinho já lá foi palestrar?
    "at Durham University (UK),

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