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ItemAestheticised violence: images of distant sufferingAgnew, Rebecca Mary ( 2012)These images are the icons of the contemporary political theology that dominates our collective imagination. These images draw their power, their persuasiveness from a very effective form of moral blackmail. After so many decades of modern and postmodern criticism of the image, of mimesis, of the representation, we feel ourselves somewhat ashamed by saying that such images of terror or torture are not true, not real (Grois 2008, p. 125). This thesis is an exploration and questioning of the aestheticisation of violent imagery. It examines the structure of ‘issue’ and ‘response ‘as a way of tracking the image from the event to its representation. It is the image that is documented, and paid for by suffering. The uneasy truth is that these images are real and discussed from a distance, which I join, as a stranger looking at another stranger’s suffering. The first part of the thesis, Issues, explores the image connected to suffering and possible overuse in popular culture. A predominant concern is that the habitual looking perhaps causes responses of otherness and alienation. With empathy to distant suffering linked to technology, proximity and lack of context the image, the case studies in this thesis deal with possible latencies in the communication of trauma. The second part of the thesis examines social responses of avocation, activism, denial and responsibility. The emotional and cognitive responses are analysed via mainstream media representation and the reciprocal relationship to images of suffering in art. Theorising the influence of aestheticisation to an image, I question if it is enough to promote a deeper understanding or if it only provokes a shallow, detached, habitual response. My Masters project, discussed in the final chapter, was built upon disparate violence to flatten the images, by removing distance and sub-context. photographic images. Employing my own distancing techniques, I used aestheticization, stylis I consider the presentation of the aestheticisation of violence as a way to engage, represent and retell through art by invented language, exchange and voice. The collage narrative of global news, photography and personal history allowed my Masters project to exaggerate moral and physical distance. Represented in the form of Stop Animation and Works on Paper, the fragments of fact and fiction facilitated otherworldly perspectives. I have hypothesised the viewer’s imagination from the function of photography, as an act to the photographer’s intention. Through the meditations of Vilém Flusser (2000), I recognise the camera as a tool becoming a kind of human apparatus to produce an image as a piece of culture flattening or obscuring reality. The bewildering ‘normalising’ of imagery comes from a habit of looking, allowing misinterpretation and juxtaposition to manifest a kind of ‘disturbance’ visualisation. I delve into the uneasiness I felt while correlating material for this research.