Picturing Live War: A research practice in an installation and in a text​

El Chamaa, Sabine. 2014. Picturing Live War: A research practice in an installation and in a text​. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Picturing Live War)
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Abstract or Description

As a local filmmaker I was compelled to film during the 34-day war waged by the Israeli government on Lebanon in July 2006. My questioning of the function of my images amidst the proliferating international and local live media images of that war led me to pursue an interdisciplinary research. This thesis project, presented partly as an installation and partly as a theoretical text, is the result of my research.

My thesis argument and original contribution to knowledge is that ‘co-liveness’ has become inherent in the act of watching live war since the first televised live broadcast of war (The First Gulf War, 1991). I have defined co-liveness as the local citizens’ experience of war as an embodied reality and as a mediatised event turning them simultaneously into potential targets and media spectators.

My colleagues’ non-recognition of ‘co-liveness’ in my edited sequences leads me to question how the factual/fictional construct of what counts as an image of war is recognised revealing the ‘technostrategic discourse’ (Cohn, 1987) as a recognisable language/view from a gun/air raid perspective.

Michel Foucault’s “return to the origin” (1977) inspires the analysis of the framing of first Gulf War (1991) and its critique as ‘infotainment’ and ‘spectacle’, as discursive practices where foundational omissions are inscribed in a critique that perceives all spectators to be distant to war’s materiality. A diffractive reading enables me to propose an imaginary co-live perspective on the margins of the text.

The accompanying installation “Fragments” is conceived through the combined influences of ‘Détournement’ (Debord, 1958), the ‘Parergon’ (Derrida, 1979) and ‘Articulation’ (Haraway, 1992) where every visitor’s trajectory maps a personal interaction with the elements on display. Co-presence lends a renewed reading to what it means to ‘watch war’ when visitors share their impressions in a final discussion.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Live war, the representation of war, The Lebanon July 2006, war, filming war, The spectacle of war, The materiality and mediatisation of war, filming war, watching war

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


June 2014

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

05 Aug 2014 12:12

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:00



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