Becoming Bombs: 3D Animated Satellite Imagery and the Weaponization of the Civic Eye

Roger Stahl

Abstract


This essay traces the recent history of 3D satellite animation from its military origins to its visibility in the civic sphere. Specifically, technologies unveiled in 2004 as Google Earth first received widespread public visibility in the television coverage of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. The essay first maps the political economy of the “military-media-geotech” complex, focusing mainly on the coverage of the Iraq War as an nexus of interests. Second, the essay analyzes the aesthetic uses of 3D satellite animation on the news during this period, including how these imaging practices meshed with existing discourses such as the clean war, the weaponization of the civic gaze, and others. The essay concludes with thoughts regarding what these practices mean for the efficacy of the deliberative citizen, public life, and the meaning of war.

Keywords


biopolitics, war, satellite, journalism, media, military, visual rhetoric, Google Earth, Iraq

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