Richard Woodward

Recent Articles

Picture This

The news reports from Iraq in the last few weeks have proven once again that, when it comes to weapons of war, nothing packs as much firepower as a camera. The shock and awe of some crude snapshots taken by amateurs may well be more devastating than all the cruise missiles in the U.S. arsenal. Why images are in many cases so much more potent than words is a metaphysical puzzle that art theorists have never quite resolved. But even the Secretary of Defense, apparently too busy to read a 53-page report detailing the horrors at Abu Ghraib and tell the president about them, should have smelled trouble for the American cause in the Middle East when he learned that the photographs existed. That he didn't act more forcefully to bring the scandal to light may mean that he didn't regard these practices as out of the ordinary; or, he may have understood that photographs of the abuses would overwhelm any explanation that Central Command might have come up with. The illusory immediacy of the...