Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Image Control and Power

This short article from the guardian covers the relationships between imagery and power (Via The End of Cyberspace). Quote:

"The church had social control. Whoever controlled the images had power. And they still do. Social control followed the lens and mirror for most of the 20th century. What's now known as the media exert social control, not the church, but we are moving into a new era, because the making and distribution of images is changing. Anyone can make and distribute images on a mobile phone. The equipment is everywhere."
I don't know how well the connection between mass production of images and the decline of the church is. The writer also raises the point about imagery manipulation and the law. We are in an age where you can manipulate imagery in a way that depicts cruelty to other humans, yet no human was really hurt as the photo was manipulated. The emotional response to the image is real, but the photography is fake.

Update: Kuipercliff links to an interesting conference entitled "Imaging War".


Ymarsakar said...

I just think of it as self-selective social evolution. The society or civilization or ideology that best adapts to and resists the manipulation of emotions and psychology will be the dominant force on Earth for the next few hundred or even thousand years. Or until a technological revolution starts, that is.

Such adaptation will require the re-energization of both system hierarchies and individual initiative. Whether totalitarian systems will defeat the inherent flexibility and virtue of individual initiative, however, remains to be seen.

So far technology has been on the side of classical liberals. Technology made slavery uneconomical. Technology gave people free time to pursue their own happiness. Technology increased worker productivity and security from famine and other natural disasters.

But behind that technology rests a mortal human body and a fallible human mind. The society that has too many sheep and not enough shepherds, will inevitably fall to image and iconoclastic manipulation, like the Palestinians. And then scientific progress goes up in smokes, which is why I said any power that would come on top of this kind of struggle will remain in power. They will remain in power because they will have a monopoly on technological advancements.

In a day and age where you can re-program children through educational images and programs from half a world away, that is the age in which power can best be exercised by a few over the easily manipulated mob.

The bull is strong and fierce, but images and skill control it.

Jay@Soob said...

I keep coming back to Natures End when thinking about the effect of technology on society. The essence of the book was alarmist eco-doom but the sub-plot involved a hyper evolved form of computer technology. Said technology could take a list of variables (personality variables, if you will) and effectively re-create the cognitions of an existing human being. After which the program could be questioned and the responses (always honest) given by the program were an accurate account of what the actual personality would have said had they been answering honestly. Frightening.

Which reminds me of Marks recent post in which he links to a site that conflates polito's speeches with voice/stress analysis and puts out real time data on the "honesty" of what the person is saying.

In line with ymarsakar's comment, we are ever more reliant on technology to ease us through our day to day existance, either in our work life or personal life. Should we come to rely on technology for our political processes as the above suggests, well that's a bit terrifying.