When Seeing is Belonging: The Photography of Tahrir

        This reading drives two particular points home for me: first, the power of representation, and second, the fact that an archive must first and foremost be ‘searchable’ for anyone to get any use out of it.
        “The power of representation” comes out in the discussion of Operation Desert Storm: when the event was represented only by professional media like CNN with (presumably) their own agenda, they could sell any narrative they wanted–even one that was largely divorced from what the situation felt like on the ground. The subsequent rise of citizen journalists “rehumanized reality.” Moreover, the representation proved emotionally powerful–it was a reaffirmation that the people in question “had a right to see and be seen;” that their emotional realities deserved exactly as much stage time, if not more, than the emotional realities set by the entities that originally held power over forms of media.
        However, with increased production of material, the question of who sees what when, and how they do so, becomes more pressing. When there are as many streams of content as there are people with image-recording devices, how do faraway viewers (or even those that are close by) find the content that is maximally relevant to them? If seeing equates to belonging, then ‘belonging’ can be disrupted by disrupting ‘seeing,’ and there are two main ways to disrupt seeing: disrupting image production, and disrupting image accessibility. Democratization of the latter is a largely disjoint problem from democratization of the former, and it seems to be one that we’ve only half solved.

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