Sin Imágenes

Josu Rekalde

This video, made with words and no images, observes, scrutinises, examines and speculates about the filtering process that the representation of armed conflicts undergoes under the hands of the mass media. The viewer, on the other hand, remains still, defenseless and delighted. Rekalde warns: “my conscience is not altered by war images”, as these are images that very often help to veil the truth of those same wars. Because “war can have no images”.

Until very recently war was just an illusion that became real in its representations. To prove its veracity, pain needed the help of graphic documents. But today, the saturation of war images has the opposite effect, it produces a feeling of rejection in the viewer, and creates a spiral of silence that undervalues the document unless it is extremely horrifying. In this video without images, Rekalde criticises the filtering of the armed conflicts for its show on screen.

Sin imágenes is formulated as a visual poem, almost like a prayer. In it, Rekalde examines his personal experience of war, during the time previous to the Yugoslavian conflict. He presents his writing about his own points of view (“there are no images, there are no sounds”), accusing the simulacrum of television as a guilty participant in the conflict, for creating a distance and helping to enjoy the war as if it was one more form of entertainment. Following the Freudian description of censorship, the unconscious’ unpleasant material tries to penetrate conscience by dressing up and trying to appear innocent. Since the Vietnam conflict, when war became a television spectacle, an event which provoked massive popular condemnation, the manipulation of the mass media is always one of the principal objectives of the sides in conflict.

Rekalde’s premise becomes a reality: in the new wars, the contenders try to avoid the mentioned saturation of images of massacres. As Umberto Eco says: “he who has killed too much, loses the battle over public opinion”. Today the point is to make war invisible, and to allow only the official communication apparatus the privilege of showing the one and only version of the crisis. Since the Yugoslavian conflict, politicians have proclaimed tirelessly that the war of today is one of machine-against-machine, and that its images have no more interest than the screen of a videogame, even though, due to small errors, civilians are often killed.

The facts of war are filtered and the media have no other choice than to comment on these as images, not as reality. There are war actions of which no images (or sounds) exist. These ephemeral actions are ethereal, like those of 9/11, which didn’t show us the bodies thrown and buried under the Twin Towers. If no one sees the atrocities, the event doesn’t exist for the informers. There is a well argued censorship to protect an hypothetical sensitive viewer who, supposedly, cannot withstand a visual violence similar to the one he has been fed by television all his life. Nevertheless, today, the veiling of violent events seems to strengthen their veracity. Secret manipulations, due to a perverse televisual education, seem more real than reality itself.

Technical datasheet

  • Title: Sin Imágenes
  • Direction: Josu Rekalde
  • Production: Josu Rekalde. 1994.
  • Duration: 00:02:48
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD
  • TV systems: PAL
  • License: Copyright