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Selected images from ORBIT ÆTERNA .

The use of media by terrorist organisations has become a fundamental part of anti-western campaigns. Groups such as Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and ISIS run sophisticated propaganda  campaigns through social media to broadcast its ideological intent, and recruit beyond the Middle East and Africa.

High quality video’s mimicking Hollywood theatrical trailers and a range of photographs from selfies to high quality propaganda imagery containing graphic imagery of executions, battle successes and ideological calls to arms are posted on YouTube and Twitter coupled with trending hashtags that draw attention to the graphic nature of the images and the ideological intentions of the groups.

Through a romanticized version of jihad young international Muslims are being called to join terrorist groups by foreign recruiters speaking in their own language who demonstrate the freedoms and excesses to be expected from the Jihadi lifestyle in videos which often draw parallels with the idealised image of gangster rap or “Cribs” style American reality Television shows.

Alongside the autobiographic depiction of Jihad, constructed personas such as Jihadi John appear in videos in expansive ambiguous desert landscapes where they perform brutal executions upon infidel victims who are dressed as approximations of Guantanamo bay inmates; a device intended to emphasis a reversal of the in proper treatment of prisoners by western powers in detention centers and Black Sites. Featuring strong iconography and high quality imagery these constructed videos are intended to create an indexical legacy for the groups that perpetuates their presence in visual culture, the fear of terrorism and for a select group an enticement to join the ranks.

But in light of the successful use of social media to promote and recruit for terrorist activity it has also lead to the capture of fundamentalist and the destruction of strategic headquarters by unmanned drones and air strike as individuals and locations are recognized in selfies and other images and videos.

Through a series of constructed black and white medium format film photographs ORBIT ÆTERNA considers the cultural significance of the contemporary iconography of terrorism from 9/11 to ISIS’s on going insurgency with the intention of revealing the role that images, the media and political agendas play in the service of perpetuating the underlying fear of terrorism, terrorists and suspected terrorists in the service of the US's pursuit of full spectrum dominance.

The photographs visual reference to infrared drone footage (UAV)  is intended to reveal how false colour drone footage accentuates the dissociation of conflict imagery from reality by acting as de-humanising force which renders the landscape of the conflict zone and the bodies of those which we see killed alien or otherworldly and yet how paradoxically trauma is accentuated by poor quality imagery and its indexical archival quality.

Through the construction of an ambiguous protagonist situated in a desert landscape the photographs reveal the intentional use of iconography by terrorist and its retention in visual cultural. The construction of images is also intended to highlight an ongoing negotiation with the documentary mode of representation.