Can Industrial Horror Ever Be Reified By Imagery?

There are so many horrific images of industrial decay, environmental degradation and rotting waste assaulting our senses daily in every city. Horrors such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch caused by plastics in the ocean. But are literal images enough to shock us? Or are we now immune to the nightmarish scenes, desensitised beyond belief? Would it be better to make videos that are poetic, using slow motion imagery and emotive sounds, to jolt us back into having some feelings about what we’re doing to the planet? Can industrial horror ever be reified by imagery?

In answer to the questions raised above, I would ask, are we already over stimulated by the trillions of images which assault ours senses on a daily, weekly and annual basis? Can the problem also be the solution, as homoeopaths would have us believe? Has the digital age made us blasé to the catastrophic problems our environment faces? I find myself posing more and more questions when I should be providing some answers if not solutions.

One could say that the Vietnam War was halted by the power of the image in its employment by the western media in covering that engagement. More recent military actions, like Iraq and Afghanistan, have been strictly controlled by the military in terms of what images the press have had access to. This in itself tells us something important about the power of images to reify issues and situations. The extreme smog, caused by industrial pollution, blinding the city of Beijing for its inhabitants, has captured the world’s attention recently. This is environmental degradation brought into sharp relief by the cameras of the world’s media. Where are the policies for waste management, pollution; and the environmental solutions?

“A picture is worth a thousand words”, is the old adage and it remains true and relevant today. “Seeing is believing”, is another. How we present these images, as suggested at the beginning of this article, may, indeed, be the solution to the problem of over exposure. Getting creative with sound and visual editing may provoke more response to crises around the globe. The danger, as in the prevalence of Photoshopping images of celebrities, is that we may be moving further and further way from the realities of these often dire situations. Will the viewing audience shrug their collective shoulders and turn away from overly produced visual presentations in advertising and promotions? It seems I am back asking more questions and ultimately not answering them. This is a complex problem.