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Casio, Seiko, Sheraton, Toyota, Mars

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“News stories, scripted for consumption, merge the spaces of recent conflict. Plots, characters, and camera direction produce images for decoding. The sets can be cities, mountainous landscapes, hide-outs and tourist resorts. The plots include documents, dossiers, manuals, reports, un-released videos, un-circulated images, found mobile phone SIM cards, confiscated hard drives, and a largely unseen spectacle of incidental props.” Sean Snyder’s film essay Casio, Seiko, Sheraton, Toyota, Mars from 2004, analyzes the conventions and complications that arise in the production of iconic images of war. Combining the most diverse footage including moving and still images from amateur, government, photojournalistic and media sources, the work investigates the ongoing re-interpretation of information in the news media, from the Cold War to present day conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, questioning the correlation between factual evidence in the form of images rehashed through the media and the actual pictures of reality as such. Snyder simultaneously focuses on the materiality of war – expressed in consumer goods, economic exchange and the super brands in the title through the repeated appearance of products such as Mars candy bars, Toyota trucks, and Casio watches – and the relationship between the ‘reality’ of war as an event and its documentation as spectacle, exposed through quotations from textbooks and instruction manuals outlining the mechanisms of photojournalism. This critical deconstruction of and reflection on photojournalism thus reminds the viewer that the relationship between deed and documentation is reciprocal rather than dichotomous, made acutely evident for example by soldiers strapping cameras to their guns, thereby simultaneously engaging in journalistic and military services. Further addressing the international acceptance and consumption of images and consumer goods beyond all boundaries, both as part of the globalization of the market economy and as part of an ideological war, Snyder addresses the ethics of reportage, the staging and manipulation of images, and the changing role of photojournalists in the era of consumer digital imaging.

Sean Snyder was born in 1972 in Virgina Beach, USA. He lives and works in Berlin and Kiev. He takes the global circulation of information as the operating ground for his work. His videos, texts and images data presented in the form of installations or publications, are the material evidence of a systematic research into the intrinsic codes of technologically produced and processed imagery as well as overt montage and propaganda techniques, exploring ideas of accessibility, transparency and the manipulation of information.

Snyder draws his material from a variety of sources, being official news channels, information databanks, press agencies such as Reuters, The Associated Press, Governmental bodies as well as personal homepages, digital and material archives and clandestine websites. Through case studies, which have examined the world of urban planning, architecture and the news media, Snyder retraces the strange and often surprising shifts in meaning that information undergoes in the process of translation from one ideological system to another, while avoiding any definitive interpretation. Recent exhibition include Architecture on Film: The World, curated by the Architecture Foundation, The Barbican Art Centre, London, UK in 2014 and No Apocalypse. Not Now, at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne in 2013.

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