When images become weapons

By Charlotte Klonk



  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4713-4
  • Pages: 280
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £20.00
  • Published Date: January 2021
  • BIC Category: PHOTOGRAPHY / Photojournalism, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Terrorism, The arts / Photographic reportage, Art History, Society & social sciences / Media studies, The arts / History of art & design styles: from c 1900 -, Society & social sciences / Terrorism, armed struggle, Terrorism, armed struggle


In June 2016, a French policeman was stabbed to death in a Paris suburb. His assailant gained access to the victim's flat, where he murdered the policeman's partner in front of their three-year-old son. While negotiating with members of the special forces, the murderer posted live footage of himself and his victims on Facebook. Acting in the name of the so-called Islamic State, the perpetrator, who would later be shot and killed, single-handedly applied one of the fundamental tenets of modern terrorism: it is not the act of violence itself that counts, but the images of it that are brought into circulation. Once released, nothing and no one can eradicate these images and the visual battle that ensues knows no winners or ceasefire.

With the expert eye of an art historian, Charlotte Klonk documents the visual machinery of terrorism from the late nineteenth century to the present day. She shows that the propaganda videos form the IS are nothing new. On the contrary, perpetrators of terror acts have always made use of images to spread their cause through the media - as have their enemy, the state. This is an indispensable book for understanding the background and dynamic of terror today.


'In an acute and stimulating analysis, Charlotte Klonk traces the longue durée of media responses to terror attacks, from the woodcuts of nineteenth-century illustrated magazines to live video recordings of attacks, unearthing striking continuities in the way that the mass media frames and attempts to tame attacks on public order.'
Julian Stallabrass, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art


1 Close-up: Assassinations and Bomb Attacks in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twenty-First Centuries
2 Distant Images: Hostage-Takings and Aircraft Hijackings since the 1960s
3 Images of Perpetrators: From Wanted Posters to Propaganda Videos
4 Image Ethics


Charlotte Klonk is Professor of Art History and New Media at Humboldt University, Berlin and member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. She has held fellowships at the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science, at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Berlin and the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. Among other publications, Klonk is the author of Spaces of Experience (2009) and the co-editor of Image Operations (2016).

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