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The Stills Gallery held their monthly Democratic Camera Club last Thursday. I find this event very inspiring, as you are asked to respond to a brief each month around a different subject. It’s often a subject you might not otherwise think of exploring, intellectually, creatively or otherwise, and it’s always interesting to see how others respond to it as well.

The theme this month was ‘conflict’.

My response was to buy two battalions of toy soldiers for £1 from a sweet shop (interesting in itself) and explore various possibilities with them. The black and white formations I did like but probably the most successful pic was where I got the previous Saturday’s centre spread in the Guardian of the victory celebrations in Tripoli and posed the toy soldiers in front of it.

I guess my point was really about how, often, we are fed a simplicity of imagery around easily consumable themes of war and conflict – of the heros and villians, the victors and the victims, the right and the wrong, good and bad – and somewhere within these neat, monochrome opposites, a greater truth about the abject horror and depravity of war is hidden.

If people percieve conflict in two-dimensions then it’s easier to manipulate them, maybe. Easier for George Bush to use language like ‘You’re either with us or against us’ or worse ‘You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists’.

But the complexity of a three-dimensional world might be too anarchic a space for someone who cited ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ as one of his favourite books (bear in mind he was 22 when it was written).

Funny how the subject of conflict always leads to a bit of GW bashing!

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