The documents show how Foreign Office officials have discouraged ministers from attending memorial services for Armenian victims and from including any reference to this genocide at Holocaust Memorial Day. It is no business of the Foreign Office to discourage ministers from attending memorial services for victims of crimes against humanity.
Notable in these hitherto secret documents is how government ministers parrot their Foreign Office briefs in parliament word for word and never challenge the advice provided by diplomats. It cannot be a little bit unequivocal. But genocide is a matter for legal judgment, not a matter for historians, and there is no dispute about the Armenian genocide among legal scholars.
The minister, by now Jim Murphy, was displeased, and became the first to demand to know just what evidence the Foreign Office had looked at. The Eastern Department had looked at no evidence at all. It is astonishing, given the number of British historians, from Arnold Toynbee onwards, who have no doubts on the subject, that the Foreign Office should grasp at the straw of three controversial Americans. Parliament has been routinely misinformed by ministers who have recited Foreign Office briefs without questioning their accuracy. Les dirigeants de la Turquie doivent suivre cet exemple.
Why is Israel still silent on Armenian genocide? Israel has not joined the EU Parliament and the pope in officially recognizing the Armenian genocide, partly because of its strategic alliance with Azerbaijan against Iran. This alone was a good enough reason for the various Turkish governments to maintain close ties with Israel. Ankara believed that Israel had almost mystical powers of influence over the White House and Capitol Hill. Diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey have been foundering for over half a decade.
During most of that time, there has been no Turkish ambassador to Israel, while the Israeli ambassador to Turkey was expelled from Ankara in disgrace. This year, Armenians are marking the centennial of the genocide. In fact, dozens of prominent Israeli artists and academics recently signed a petition calling on the Israeli government and Knesset to recognize the Armenian genocide. Nevertheless, officially, Israel continues to squirm. It will, however, be a low-ranking delegation, made up of Knesset members.
We are sensitive and attentive to the terrible tragedy of the Armenian people during the First World War, and express our empathy and solidarity. A few senior Israeli officials dealing with the issue spoke to Al-Monitor about it on condition of anonymity. According to the Azeri narrative, Armenian forces killed Azeri civilians there, including women and children. In this instance, the Armenians deny responsibility for the massacre of civilians, just as they do for a long list of atrocities that the Azeris have blamed on them since WWI. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has visited Baku, the capital, on several occasions.
Arad has covered international politics and diplomacy, ethnic conflicts around the world and interviewed various world leaders, decision-makers and opinion leaders. On peut surtout penser que M. En tenant compte des connaissances occidentales actuelles sur , quelle est, selon vous, la bonne version des faits? On ne peut pas le nier.
Il suffit de regarder les dates: Emma Sky Politico April 07, Nothing that happened in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in was pre-ordained; different futures than the one unfolding today were possible. Recall that violence declined drastically during the U. As an adviser to the top U. Now, he had a premonition that the same could happen in Iraq.
Now, as his political adviser, I was helping General O ensure that the United States kept its focus on the mission in Iraq while drawing down U. He believed that, in order to train Iraqi security forces and provide the psychological support needed to maintain a level of stability, 20, or so U. But the real engagement, General O believed, should be from the other instruments of national power, led by the U.
Every time a congressional delegation visited us in Baghdad, General O put up a slide showing why the United States should continue to invest in Iraq through the Strategic Framework Agreement that the two countries had signed in General O knew that for the mission to succeed, there needed to be a political agreement between Iraqi leaders.
Otherwise, all the security gains that the American troops had fought so hard for would not be sustainable. He took every opportunity to educate and communicate these complexities to the new Obama administration. For six months, General O had tried hard to support the leadership of Chris Hill, the new American ambassador who had taken up his post in April But Odierno had begun to despair. It was clear that Hill, though a career diplomat, lacked regional experience and was miscast in the role in Baghdad.
In fact, he had not wanted the job, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had persuaded him to take it; she admitted as much to General O, he told me, when he met her in early in Washington to discuss the dysfunction at the embassy. General O complained that Hill did not engage with Iraqis or with others in the diplomatic community—his only focus appeared to be monitoring the activities of the U.
It was frightening how a person could so poison a place. Hill brought with him a small cabal who were new to Iraq and marginalized all those with experience in the country. In his staff meetings, Hill made clear how much he disliked Iraq and Iraqis. That apparently meant having grass within the embassy compound. The initial attempts to plant seed had failed when birds ate it all, but eventually, great rolls of lawn turf were brought in—I had no idea from where—and took root. By the end of his tenure, there was grass on which the ambassador could play lacrosse.
The national elections took place on March 7, , and went more smoothly than we had dared hope. After a month of competitive campaigning across the country and wide media coverage of the different candidates and parties, 62 percent of eligible Iraqis turned out to vote. The European Union and others had fielded hundreds of international poll-watchers alongside thousands of trained Iraqi election observers, while the United Nations provided the Iraqis with advice on technical matters related to elections.
All this helped to sustain the credibility of the process. Insurgents sought to create a climate of fear by planting bombs in water bottles and blowing up a house, but the Iraqi security forces stood up to the test. I could hear celebratory gunfire in the background. We had not expected Iraqiya—a coalition headed by the secular Shia Ayad Allawi and leaders of the Sunni community, and running on a non-sectarian platform—to do so well. I accompanied General O and Hill to a meeting with Maliki the next day. Maliki, a Shia, had been prime minister since Americans and Iraqis alike initially viewed him as weak, but his reputation grew after he ordered military operations against Shia militias.
Since then, Iraqi politicians had become increasingly fearful of his authoritarian tendencies. He had insisted on running separately in the election—as State of Law rather than joining a united Shia coalition as had happened in —in large part because the Shia parties would not agree on him to lead the list. Nobody wanted a second Maliki premiership. When Hill asked Maliki that day about his retirement plans, it was immediately apparent that he was not contemplating stepping down.
Maliki was becoming scary. Even though there was no evidence of fraud to justify a recount, the Iraqi electoral commission and the international community agreed to one, fearful of a repeat of the election fiasco in in Afghanistan, which had tarnished the credibility of elections there. Otherwise, he would be blamed for losing Iraq for the Shia, who make up some two-thirds of the population. In parliamentary systems, the winning bloc is, by definition, the one that wins the most seats in the election and thus gets to have the first go at trying to form a government.
This was certainly the intent of those who had drafted the Iraqi Constitution in General O urged that we should protect the process. He said the United States should not pick winners. It never worked out well. General O and I did not think that the Iraqiya candidate, Allawi, would be able to put a government together with himself as prime minister. But we thought he had the right as the winner of the election to have first go—and that this could lead to a political compromise among the leaders, with either Allawi and Maliki agreeing to share power between them or a third person chosen to be prime minister.
But after one meeting with Hill, General O strode down the embassy corridor looking visibly upset. They were rid of one dictator, Hussein, and did not want to create another. As the embassy did not want to do anything to help the Iraqis form a new government, General O instructed me to try to broker a meeting between Iraqiya and State of Law.
They were the two largest blocs, and we saw an agreement between them as the most stable solution—and the one that would also best serve U. But there was little trust between the two. State of Law continued to insist on Maliki as prime minister, and Iraqiya on Allawi. I met up with Sami al-Askari, a Shia politician close to Maliki who believed that an agreement between State of Law and Iraqiya was the best way forward.
But he also told me that everyone except the Americans realized that the formation of the government was perceived as a battle between Iran and the United States for influence in Iraq. The Iranians were active, while the U. The Iranians, al-Askari said, intended to drag out government formation until after August 31, when all U.www.creditmastersuniversity.com/wp-content/2967-sites-de.php
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The Iranians had indeed not been idle. They were pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to drop his support for Allawi and agree to another Maliki term. For years, the Baathist regime in Syria had allowed jihadi foreign fighters to use their country as a launching pad for horrific attacks in Iraq. In August , coordinated attacks targeted the foreign ministry and the finance ministry in Baghdad, killing around a hundred Iraqis. Maliki had blamed Assad himself for the murders. The Iranians also were putting huge pressure on the Supreme Council, a Shia party headed by Amar Hakim, to agree a second Maliki premiership.
And Iran was seeking to persuade the Sadrists, a Shia party led by Muqtada al-Sadr, through intermediaries from Lebanese Hezbollah, that Maliki would ensure there was no U. Maliki would be able to achieve this because all the neighboring Sunni countries hated him. Their relationship went back decades.
I went to see Rafi, the deputy prime minister. He described how previous U. Qasim Suleimani is very active putting together the Shia coalition. The Shia coalition sent him a letter requesting that he withdraw his candidature for prime minister; Iraqiya made it clear that they would offer him the speakership of the parliament or the presidency, but not the premiership, and the Kurds explained that they really did not want to see him as prime minister for another four years.
General O and Hill met Maliki and told him frankly that he had little support from other groups, so it would be very hard for him to remain as prime minister. Maliki continued to insist that only he could do the job, only he could save Iraq. General O went back to Washington in mid-July for more meetings. If they could not reach an agreement within two weeks on how to form the government, they should both step aside and let others have a shot at it. However, when Biden phoned up the two leaders that week, he did not stick to the agreed line. Instead, he told Maliki that the United States would support him remaining as prime minister, and he told Allawi that he should accept Maliki as PM.
In the Arabic media, there was confusion as to why the United States and Iran should both choose Maliki as prime minister, and this fuelled conspiracy theories about a secret deal between those two countries. When I met Rafi, he was incredulous: This is our country. We have to live here. And we care passionately about building a future for our children.
Biden visited Iraq at the end of August By then, Hill had been replaced as ambassador by Jim Jeffrey. In internal meetings, one U. He would give us a follow-on Status of Forces Agreement to keep a small contingent of U. Furthermore, the official claimed that Maliki had promised him that he would not seek a third term. But Biden had been persuaded by the arguments that there was no one but Maliki who could be prime minister and that he would sign a new security agreement with the United States.
The Obama administration wanted to see an Iraqi government in place before the U. Biden believed the quickest way to form a government was to keep Maliki as prime minister, and to cajole other Iraqis into accepting this. They were scared that he would accuse them of being terrorists or bring charges of corruption against them, and would arrest them.
Maliki had accused Rafi of being the leader of a terrorist group, for instance—allegations that were totally unfounded. General O described how Maliki had changed so much over the past six months. He had become more sectarian and authoritarian. Iraqis had reason to fear him. I tried to explain the struggle between secularists and Islamists, and how many Iraqis wanted to move beyond sectarianism. But Biden could not fathom this. For him, Iraq was simply about Sunnis, Shia and Kurds.
I tried another tack: The peaceful transfer of power is key—it has never happened in the Arab World. Biden did not agree. He responded that there were often elections in the United States that did not bring about any change. He was clearly irritated by me. They all grow up hating each other. The conversation ended, as we had to head over to the meeting with Iraqiya members. Some were in suits, others were wearing their finest traditional robes.
The full tapestry of Iraqi society was sitting facing us—distinguishable only by their dress, clearly showing us the sort of Iraq they wanted to live in. Biden started off smiling: My grandfather was Irish and hated the British. The Iraqis were grinning, expecting there was going to be a good spat between Brits and Americans.
How could I stop Biden making a totally inappropriate comment about them all being Sunnis and hating Shia? Vice President, I am not the only Brit in the room. Biden lost his train of thought and moved on. He said that one of his predecessors, Al Gore, had technically won more votes in the presidential election, but for the good of America had stepped back rather than keep the country in limbo while fighting over the disputed vote-count.
Allawi pretended not to understand that Biden was suggesting he give up his claim to have first go at trying to form the government, letting Maliki remain as prime minister. After we left, I was sure the Iraqis would be wondering why on earth Biden had mentioned his Irish grandfather and Al Gore. If only President Obama had paid attention to Iraq. He, more than anyone, would understand the complexity of identities, I thought—and that people can change.
But his only interest in Iraq, it appeared, was in ending the war. I met up with Rafi Issawi. Iran had succeeded in pressuring Muqtada al-Sadr to accept a second Maliki term as prime minister and hence ensured that there would be no follow-on security agreement for a post U. The United States had helped to hammer out a power-sharing agreement of sorts in Erbil, but it had never been implemented.
Maliki had detained thousands of Sunnis without trial, pushed leading Sunnis, including Rafi, out of the political process by accusing them of terrorism and reneged on payments and pledges to the Iraqi tribes who had bravely fought Al Qaeda in Iraq. Year-long Sunni protests demanding an end to discrimination were met by violence, with dozens of unarmed protesters killed by Iraqi security forces. Maliki had completely subverted the judiciary to his will, so that Sunnis felt unable to achieve justice.
The Islamic State, Rafi explained to me, was able to take advantage of this situation, publicly claiming to be the defenders of the Sunnis against the Iranian-backed Maliki government. The downward spiral, Rafi told me not surprisingly, had begun in —when Iraqiya was not given the first chance to try to form the government. High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq, from which this article is adapted. The criticisms, which come as Mrs Clinton announces her presidential bid, are contained in a book that Ms Sky, an Oxford-educated Middle East expert, is to publish next month about the seven years she spent in Iraq.
High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq, it paints an unflattering picture of the Obama administration as it tried to extricate itself from the country as hastily as possible. While the demand for a speedy drawdown from Iraq was driven primarily by Mr Obama himself, Mrs Clinton is accused of appointing an incompetent US ambassador to Baghdad, Chris Hill, who had little experience of the region and held its people in contempt. Ms Sky, who is now an academic at Yale University, first went to work in Iraq in after a spell as a development expert for the British Council in the Palestinian territories.
In fact, he had not wanted the job, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had persuaded him to take it; she admitted as much to General Odierno, he told me, when he met her in early in Washington to discuss the dysfunction at the embassy. Worse was to come when Mr Biden visited Baghdad. He repeated the simplistic observation at a meeting with the Iraqiya bloc, a religiously mixed, secular movement, only to be embarrassed when one of the Iraqi politicians told him that he had a British passport. Recent gains against the group in Tikrit have been undermined by Isil counter-attacks in the western province of Anbar.
Max Boot The Wall Street journal. Lawrence, Freya Stark, Wilfred Thesiger and more. The deepening American involvement in the Middle East over the past decade has inspired its own crop of ardent experts. Still others—perhaps the largest share—have been temporary recruits, helping the U. The new generation of American Arabists, busy in the field trying to help win two wars, has not yet produced the outpouring of writing that characterized their British predecessors, but they are starting to catch up.
There could have been few more unlikely candidates to advise U. British-born and Oxford-educated, Ms. She had come to assist the American war effort in Iraq by chance in after having spent a decade as a humanitarian worker in the Middle East. Employed by the British Council, a cultural organization sponsored by the Foreign Office, she received an email asking for volunteers to help the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Single and something, she raised her hand and wound up in Kirkuk, where she became political adviser to Col. William Mayville, commander of the U.
Upon first meeting Col. Mayville, she threatened to haul him to The Hague if he did anything that violated the Geneva Convention: She spent nine months in Jerusalem advising the U. Raymond Odierno, who had been Col. There was no more unlikely duo than the hulking, 6-foot-5 former football player with the shaved head and his petite English adviser. To add to the incongruity, Ms. Odierno relentlessly in a way that no one else would have dared—and he returned the favor. It is part of Gen. Sky could provide to avoid the groupthink that so often characterizes military command.
He made her his indispensable aide, and she stayed by his side not only during his tour as the deputy commander in Iraq in but also when he was the top commander, from to Along the way, she helped the U. In his second term, he pursued the sectarian agenda that drove many Sunnis into the arms of Islamic State. Sky ended up disenchanted with the administration she had once supported: If only Obama had paid attention to Iraq. But his only interest in Iraq was in ending the war. Odierno—who warned the administration of Mr. As we stared across the salt lake and watched the sun disappear behind the rocky crags of Israel, I recounted a trip I had taken to Jordan 20 years earlier to conduct field research on Palestinian refugees, as part of a Middle East peace effort designed to ensure that within a decade nobody in the region considered himself a refugee.
No one had an inkling back then that the numbers of refugees in the region would increase exponentially, with millions of Iraqis and Syrians displaced from their homes by international intervention and civil war. Nor had I imagined at the time that I would find myself in Iraq after the invasion of , initially as a British representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority—the international transitional government that ran the country for about a year after the fall of Saddam Hussein—and then as the political advisor to U.
Army General Raymond Odierno when he commanded U. A number of the Iraqis I had gotten to know over the last decade had relocated to Jordan. I had gone there to see them and better understand events in the region—and the conditions that had led to the rise of the Islamic State. It was a reunion of sorts; some of us had gone white-water rafting down the Little Zaab river in northern Iraq a few years ago.
Azzam was an experienced rafter, but even the danger of the rapids had not pressured the group to trust his leadership and work together. There was a lot of shouting and we all got soaked, but somehow we had survived the trip. This, to me, represented Iraq writ large. Therefore, so the twisted reasoning goes, the United States must have deliberately created the group in order to make Sunnis and Shiites fight each other, thereby allowing the U. S to continue dominating the region.
Local media had reported on alleged U. One of my dining companions asked me where I thought the group came from. I responded that Daesh was a symptom of a much larger problem. Regional sectarian conflict was an unintended consequence of the Iraq War and the manner in which the United States had left the country, both of which had empowered Iran and changed the balance of power in the Middle East. In my view, regional competition—of which Iran versus Saudi Arabia is the main but not only dimension—exacerbated existing fault lines. Iran was funding and training Shiite militias, as well as advising regimes in Baghdad and Damascus.
Gulf financing had flowed to Sunni fighters, including the ones that ultimately became Daesh. Azzam offered another perspective. Daesh, he said, were Muslims, and fundamentalist Salafi Islam was to blame for their existence. The problem, he said, was the literal interpretation of the Quran, which, for example, spelled out harsh criminal punishments reflective of seventh-century practices. Other religions had moved forward and reformed because adherents were willing to interpret texts for their own time.
A heated argument broke out as others at the table defended Islam and accused Azzam of being brainwashed by the West. All of these explanations contained some truth: There was no one simple reason, but rather a complex set of factors, that had enabled the group to take control of so much of Iraq. Another explanation came from Sheikh Abdullah al-Yawar, the paramount sheikh of the Shammar tribe, which has around 5 million members in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Last summer, in the wake of the Daesh takeover of Mosul, his mother and brother managed to escape just hours before their palatial room house near Rabiah—northwest of Mosul on the Syrian border—was blown up, his photos and carpets destroyed, his horses scattered to the wilds.
It was a house that I knew well and had visited many times. From onward, Abdullah had decided that he and his family would cooperate with international coalition forces to secure their area, rather than fight against them. Daesh did not suddenly take control of Mosul last summer, Abdullah told me over dinner with his family at his house in Amman. For years, there had been so much corruption in local government that Daesh had been able to buy influence and supporters. Daesh had then been able to exploit this situation to take control, presenting itself as a better alternative to corrupt local government.
But I had a more basic question: Then, after , some became al-Qaeda, and now they were Daesh. They felt excluded and marginalized. Daesh gave them a sense of empowerment and let them present themselves as the defenders of the Sunnis against Shiites, Iran, and the United States. I asked Abdullah what had happened to them. He responded that they had been all talk.
Some had grown the beards mandated by fundamentalists and joined Daesh. Others had done nothing. Abdullah and his wife provided me quotation after quotation from the Quran to prove that Daesh violated the tenets of Islam. Personally, I told them, I judge people by how they behave. I told them I thought I faced a greater risk of death from overeating.
Iran is now in Tikrit. This is not the way to destroy Daesh. It will cause a worse reaction in the future. A few days later, Sheikh Ghassan al-Assi of the Obeidi tribe, which has around , members in Iraq, both Sunni and Shiite, took me to a restaurant in Amman that he said was owned by Christians from Baghdad.
When the waiter came to take our order, Ghassan said, with an acerbic wit that I was by now long familiar with: I had first met Ghassan in , when he had been highly critical of coalition forces in Iraq. Even so, we had remained friends. He had fled to Amman last summer in the wake of the Daesh blitzkrieg.
According to Ghassan, the group had blown up the grave of his father, the paramount sheikh of the Obeidis, and had destroyed the houses of his uncles because they collaborated with Maliki. He had hoped that his house would be left alone, since he had not worked with the United States or the Iraqi government. But the week prior to my visit, Daesh had turned up with C4 explosives and blown the home up. He did not know why. He took out his iPhone. It is a state of militias.
I was surprised; I had never expected a boy born and bred in Hawija—a rough provincial town—to turn out looking like this. Even in Hawija, it seemed, there were people who just wanted to lead normal lives, to wear the latest fashion. It was Dubai, not Daesh, that represented the sort of society they wanted to live in. Sheikh Ghassan laughed at my astonishment. On my last day in Jordan, Jaber al-Jaberi, another tribal leader who had served Iraq as a member of parliament and had once been a candidate for minister of defense, drove me to Jerash, an ancient city outside Amman.
Jaber, too, had been forced to leave his home in Anbar amid the Daesh advance. Jaber himself had given up politics and was now spending his days trying to get food and assistance to tribesmen living in terrible conditions in makeshift accommodation in the desert. The Sunnis, he said, had no real leaders, and the Shiite militias were more powerful than the Iraqi security forces.
The state of Iraq has indeed failed. It no longer has the legitimacy or the power to extend control over its whole territory, and the power vacuum is being filled by a multitude of non-state actors, increasingly extreme and sectarian, who will likely continue to fight each other for years to come, supported by regional powers.
Whether a new kind of order will finally emerge, with more local legitimacy, remains to be seen. And for now those who are displaced are left wondering how long it will be until they are able to return home—and to what. The past would survive in archives, in exhibits in the British Museum, on the walls of art galleries in Amman, in poems recited around the world.
We were in the land where humans had first experimented with settled agriculture, where the Babylonian king Hammurabi gave some of the first written laws, where Jews had written the Talmud. Jaber, I saw, had tears in his eyes. Not these terrible terrorists, not these militias, not these awful politicians. A new generation will come one day that can build on this. The hope is the youth who just want to live their lives. And How to Get It Back. From to , she was the political adviser to Ray Odierno then the commanding general of U.
Republicans and Democrats each share some of the blame for the situation in Iraq — the former for the way in which the United States entered the country and the latter for the way in which it left. It was only between and that the United States had a coherent strategy in Iraq, matched with the right leadership and the necessary resources. At that time, some senior officials argued that the United States should uphold the constitutionally mandated right of the winning bloc, Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi, to have the first go at trying to form a government.
They maintained that the United States should actively help broker an agreement among Iraqi elites to form the new government and warned of the already apparent autocratic tendencies of Nouri al-Maliki, the incumbent prime minister. Other officials argued that Maliki, despite his narrow electoral defeat, was the only conceivable Shia leader who could hold the position.
He was also, they said, a friend of the United States who would agree to allow the United States to maintain a small contingent of forces in Iraq after , when the existing agreement between the two countries expired. In the end, it was Iran that stepped in and, by pressuring the Sadrists to support Maliki, secured him a second premiership.
The price Iran extracted from Maliki was his support for the removal of all U. Since , Maliki has consolidated his power by targeting his political rivals, subverting the judiciary and independent government commissions, reneging on his promises to the Sunni tribal leaders who had helped him fight al Qaeda, and politicizing the security forces that the United States invested so much in training. He also mishandled the yearlong protests against his government that erupted in Sunni areas at the end of , following the souring of relations between him and Rafi al-Issawi, the highly respected minister of finance.
His forces attacked protesters in Hawija, killing Following the death of the Iraqi general leading the operation, Maliki ordered his troops into the cities of Anbar province to close down all protest sites. But they have been revealed to be strategic disasters, since they provoked a backlash that weakened the state. Sunni tribes, which previously had turned against the forerunner of ISIS, al Qaeda in Iraq, have this time either fled, remained neutral, or backed the militants. In one of his recent speeches, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, called on Sunni Muslims to join his organization to fight the Shia and establish a caliphate, which would remove the borders between Muslim lands that were demarcated by colonial powers.
But it is not the borders that are the root of the problems of these countries. It is the political leadership, which has failed to develop inclusive and robust states. And, ironically, although the ISIS has railed against national divisions, the tensions between its international jihadist agenda and the nationalist agendas of most Sunni groups will inevitably create friction and infighting.
Meanwhile, facing the shock caused by the collapse of the Iraqi army in Mosul, Shia have turned to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for guidance. In the ongoing turmoil, the Kurds have taken the contested city of Kirkuk and see independence in their sights. Without such a neutral third party, the likelihood of Arab-Kurdish conflict is increasing, with ISIS gaining the opportunity to present itself as the protector of the Sunnis against Iranian-backed Shia but also against what they perceive as Kurdish expansionism.
So what can and should the United States do? It is positive that the United States no longer views the violence in Iraq as separate from the bloodshed in Syria and Lebanon. The region has become one battlefield — and U. It was the Iranian Revolution that set off the modern-day struggle between Iran and the Sunni powers. And it was the war in Iraq that led to sectarianization of regional politics. Then it was the U. The United States needs to pursue policies that lessen sectarian tensions and support moderates.
The majority of those living in Iraq and Syria yearn to live in peace with just, effective, and transparent governments. The fall of Mosul and events that followed are indications that these tensions have come to a head and that it is time for Maliki to admit his failures and open the way for a more competent Shia leader to start a new approach. Although Maliki did head the winning bloc in the most recent elections, those opposed to him have enough votes to replace him if they can agree on an alternative. In his June 19 statement, U.
Shia, Sunni, Kurds — all Iraqis — must have confidence that they can advance their interests and aspirations through the political process rather than through violence. He correctly recognized that any military options would be effective only if they were in support of an overall political strategy that a new broad-based government agreed to. A new broad-based Iraqi government will need to win back the support of Sunnis against ISIS — and the Obama administration should be prepared to respond positively to requests for assistance to do so.
Nationalism, Sectarianism and Socio-political Conflict in Iraq. This past December, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of several bodyguards of Rafi al-Issawi, the minister of finance and one of the most influential and respected Sunni leaders in Iraq. In response, tens of thousands of Sunnis took to the streets of Anbar, Mosul, and other predominantly Sunni cities, demanding the end of what they consider government persecution.
Issawi has accused Maliki of targeting him as part of a systematic campaign against Sunni leaders, which includes the indictment of Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, on terrorism charges. This is not the first time that Maliki has gone after Issawi, either. In , during tense negotiations over the makeup of the government, Maliki accused Issawi of leading a terrorist group — a claim that the U. Not coincidentally, this most recent incident occurred days after President Jalal Talabani, always a dependable moderator in Iraqi politics, was incapacitated by a stroke.
The scale of the ongoing demonstrations reveals the widespread sense of alienation that Sunnis feel in the new Iraq. Prior to , Sunnis rarely identified as members of a religious sect and instead called themselves Iraqi or Arab nationalists. Today, the roles are reversed. In turn, many Sunnis take issue with the new political system, which was largely shaped by Shia and Kurdish parties.
Today, the Sunni population is mobilizing against the status quo and making sect-specific demands, such as the release of Sunni detainees, an end to the torture of Sunni suspects, and humane treatment of Sunni women in jails. Moreover, demonstrators are calling for the overthrow of the regime, using slogans made popular during the Arab Spring. As with other protests in the Arab world, which were initially driven by legitimate local grievances, there is a risk that the current movement will become increasingly sectarian. At political events, some Iraqi Sunni clerics use conciliatory language and emphasize Iraqi fraternity.
Since , when Maliki led a harsh crackdown on the Mahdi Army, a Shia militia, the prime minister has tried to present himself as a nationalist leader seeking to unify his country and evenly enforce the rule of law. Maliki tried to earn legitimacy beyond just the Shia community, in particular seeking the support of Sunni voters.
His confrontation with Massoud Barzani, the president of the semi-independent Iraqi Kurdistan region, over security issues along the disputed border was primarily a move to win the support of the Sunni population there, which is resentful of Kurdish encroachment. He blames external interference for the current tensions, exploiting images of divisive symbols such as flags of the Saddam era, the Free Syrian Army, and Kurdistan, as well as photos of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Maliki could cling to power by presenting himself as the defender of the Shia in an increasingly tumultuous environment, turning his fear of a regional sectarian conflict into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Al-Qaeda attacks in Iraq are on the rise, provoked by discontent with Maliki and inspired by the Syrian civil war next door. Cependant, monsieur le professeur, veuillez noter ce fait: Je la menace de lui couper les cheveux.
Au bout de trois jours, tout un village hurle. Le comte n'a jamais voulu que j'essayasse. Lui, malin, fait le mort Il ne s'attendait pas au champagne. Il pousse un cri et se trouve mal. En effet, monsieur le professeur, la machine humaine J'entendis craquer des branches mortes, et il me sembla que quelque animal fort lourd essayait d'y grimper. Je lui racontai ce qui venait de se passer. J'ai eu honte et je me suis enfui Vous voulez donc que nous lisions l'Evangile en jmoude? Vous n'avez ni notre J, ni notre L, ni notre Y, ni notre E.
Me permettriez- vous de vous la lire? Je l'ai dans mon portefeuille. Le comte me regardait fixement avec son regard singulier. Ils ne reviennent pas. Il est plein de roubles de Novgorod? J'avoue que je demeurai tout interdit. Elle n'a point de coeur Elle est blanche comme la neige et froide comme elle! Permettez-vous que je le voie? Il appela le valet, qui lui amena le chien. Pourquoi les animaux ont-ils peur de moi? Pourtant, vous ne sauriez croire l'aversion que j'inspire aux chevaux et aux chiens.
Nos paysans mangent tous les champignons qu'ils trouvent, et ne s'en portent que mieux. Si je fus surpris d'entendre la vieille invoquer un dieu du paganisme, je le fus bien davantage de voir les champignons se soulever. Cela ferait un joli sujet de tableau de genre pour votre compatriote Knauss Avez-vous envie de vous faire tirer votre bonne aventure? Vous avez ici une belle occasion. Tu ne sais donc pas que monsieur est Je l'ai vu s'enfoncer lentement, lentement Viens me voir un de ces jours.
Pourquoi les chrétiens croient à l’existence des géants et des extraterrestres…
Je te donnerai du tabac et de l'eau-de-vie. Je suis connu dans le pays comme le loup blanc. Vous riez et vous avez raison The Myth of Presence The crux of this myth lies in the ability of digital, and cyberspace its first manifestation, to provide real experiences for its users. This myth is based on a correlation between presence and a series of its effects; namely, immediacy or transparency, singularity and interactivity.
We do have a myth here — at once true and not true. Digital radically renews the processes of representation, which does suggest new works of an unsurpassed effectiveness. However, this renewal is still in its preliminary stage. That the computer has become a media, a means for representation, is no longer in question. Jay David Bolter and Diane Gromala have already commented on this: Over the past decades, the quest for such transparency is at the very heart of computer development, readily attested to by the increasing effectiveness of graphic interfaces.
Bolter and Gromala likewise refer to this quest, as much myth as ideal, pursued by users and programmers alike. Richard Powers highlights this aspect: We dream that a new tool might put us closer to the thing that we are sure lies just beyond us, just outside the scale of our being. A little heavier throw weight, a few fuller colors, a finer brush, another dimension, greater syntactical innovation, stylistic breakthrough, twice the trombones, a bigger set budget, a few extra megabytes or megahertz is all we need to do the trick.
Artists and their audiences are both like that robber baron — Carnegie I think — who, when asked, How much is enough? The curse of the body is that it habituates, and every signal from outside our senses already starts the cycle of its own attenuation. The brighter the insight, the quicker our pupils contract.
Novelty and complexity do not make a media effective. Rather, it is our habits, a collection of well-used conventions, processes whose rudiments and presuppositions are well mastered by readers and spectators, that the effectiveness of a representation is ensured. The new media, whatever its complexity and technical capability, i. In the meantime, the effect of presence it is said to impose is a myth — albeit a myth we should analyze closely.
These myths claim cyberspace as the end of history, the end of distance and the end of politics. This is of course a utopia as neither history, nor geography nor politics disappear into the pixel screen of cyberspace; on the other hand it is true that the latter does transform the manner in which history, geography, and politics are practiced. It modifies the ways users think these aspects of their lives.
These myths oscillate between the dream of a perfect projection and the inevitable distortions of human enterprise. Myth simplifies to the extreme, while at the same time, it reveals. It renders present what would otherwise remain taboo or implicit. It provides a tool for understanding.
Mosco studies them to show their foundations as well as their inevitable limits. Following his example, I wish to explore this myth of presence that digital brings to life. First, I will examine how digital fulfills certain promises of the myth, thereby ensuring it a certain credibility, and secondly, I will focus on its deconstruction to show its share of illusions.
To do this I will use a hypermedia work hosted on incident. This work creates a very subtle effect of presence, which sustains the myth, while never completely achieving it. However, it is perhaps a good idea to start with a closer look at presence itself, and the conditions for its manifestation. The Anatomy of Presence How does something reveal itself to us? Georges Didi-Huberman uses the example of dust suspended in air: In the ray that falls on the ground, from a window up above, the dust seems to show us the ideal existence of a light that is purified of the objects it illumines: This is nothing more than a fiction as the object has not been purified; it is there, and it is the dust itself.
But it is a tangible fiction, or almost; ineffable, while still quite palpable. The dust suspended in the air allows us to grasp an elusive moment where a presence is revealed. Much like the aura that attaches itself to the works of Walter Benjamin, it is neither the dust nor the light, but the subtle and ephemeral relationship between the two that creates the effect of this presence. It is the contact between the light and the dust, a light segmented by the frame of a window and the dust suspended in the perfectly still air of a room, that allows something to appear.
There can be no presence without a backdrop of absence. There can be no appearance if at first there was nothing. Presence does not, in any way, imply permanence; it does however imply dynamism. An inanimate body is not present; it is at the limit of disappearing. It hides in front of our eyes. The effect of presence can only be understood from discontinuity, an interruption, or an imbalance.
It can only be really seen at the point of junction between appearance and disappearance.
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In logical terms, presence is what follows appearance, and what precedes disappearance. It is bounded by absence, time frames that can be constructed either in a mode of anticipation — that which is not there, but expected — or in a mode of recall — that which is in fact no longer there, and whose absence is being felt. Presence is structured like the present, an interval of unstable time circumscribed by a future and a past, whose tensions provide its form and extension.
Presence is therefore circumscribed by two events, appearance and disappearance, the two time frames of absence that one after the other, appear and disappear. Moreover, if one of these two events no longer happens, presence ceases. If there is no appearance, it is the very limit of presence that is not achieved, unless we open the experience of presence to include mystic revelation, to the real presence of God for example, which requires no appearance for a presence to be established.
In the same manner, there can be no recognition of presence if there is no disappearance. Permanency does not ensure the recognition of presence: Permanency must be threatened or presence fades from consciousness; presence cannot remain static or inert. The effect of presence is tributary to disturbances, events that ensure, even if negatively, a dynamism.
This clearly suggests the effect is a cognitive event. Presence can only exist for a subject who feels the effect. A wound, or a provocative image, make their presence known by imposing on the senses. This reaction can come from a natural phenomenon — the wound or the ray of light — or any other mechanism, a representation, for example. In this case, presence appears as the illusion of a figure that emerges and seems real, even if it is only artificial.
It is an experience that seems real when in fact it is the result of several processes. To create such an illusion, where a figure emerges from nothing, a representation — and more specifically a digital representation — it is essential to respect three limits, which are equally illusory. These are immediacy or transparency, singularity and interactivity. The first illusion, immediacy, is the impression that a figure is offered without any mediation, that the processes are completely enmeshed in the representation.
Immediacy implies transparency, a balance between the expectations of the spectator and the possibilities of the medium. This suspension of mediation affects the experience of time and space. In the immediacy of the effect of presence, the figure offers experience its own determinations, which enter into phase with those of the spectator.
The two space-times thereby converge to create a mixed territory where the near and far co-exist, the virtual and the real, the before and after. This is the land of illusion, where every paradox is permitted. Transparency requires an equilibrium that can only be attained if and when conventions are already shared, if and when the expectations of the spectator are structured as a function of the capacities of the media.
A referential illusion, no matter what form it takes, relies on a set of predispositions and habits that ensure its effectiveness. If there is no experience of spectatorship, there is no way to correctly interpret the signs. As Richard Powers suggested earlier, all mediation implies a complex interface that requires competency, an established set of interpretants.
Any possible illusion is forfeited before it can even appear. The habits of spectatorship are necessarily anchored in a practice that confirms action and gives experience both its opacity and meaning. However, these habits rely on predispositions that modulate the overall sphere. These predispositions are shared by the ensemble of the implicated interpretative community.
Consequently, the desire for transparency and immediacy are at the very heart of the current developments in computer technology and manifests itself as the contemporary actualization of a quest started long ago, the quest to reproduce as faithfully as possible the original non-mediated experience of the world.
Transparency is the primary criterion used to propose interfaces that actualize design. Transparency is the barometer of all things. The second illusion, singularity, suggests the situation of spectatorship is unique: Here, the figure is perceived as fragile and precarious. It can at any moment disappear, which accentuates the effect of its presence. Singularity can only appear if transparency, or the effect of immediacy of the figure, is maintained. Obviously, the interactivity of digital strengthens this effect of singularity as it gives the spectator the impression of a real connection between her or his actions and the world represented.
However, singularity stems from the overall impact of the work itself, its ability to grab the spectator and bring her or him to fully participate in the representation. Both literature and film have, over time, developed strategies to facilitate our adhesion to the universe they propose. One of the properties of narrative structure is to grab the reader or spectator intellectually and emotionally through the creation of an intrigue, by giving her or him the impression of actively participating in the story and its reconstruction. We can readily see how the interactivity of digital would accentuate this effect of singularity.
Interactivity, the third illusion, provides the spectator with the sense that he or she has a real possibility of interacting with the figure, and can, if so desired, make it react to her or his own commands. Interactivity is the most accomplished form of appropriation. The subject is no longer content to project his or her intentions and desires onto the figure; the subject moves the figure to act as a consequence of his or her intentions and desires.
The figure espouses the intentions of the subject, and renders them in its own universe. Digital, more than any other media, has succeeded in developing forms of interactivity that ensure presence its most dramatic effects. This interactivity is not some mere fantasy or trick of the imagination: This is as close as I could get to your original text. It is important here to distinguish between two levels of interactivity: For this second level of interactivity to be effective, the first level of interactivity must disappear; the processes from which it originates must dissolve to give way to the semiotic universe projected.
In terms of the media itself, interactivity relates to the properties of the computer allowing a user to manipulate it, to set off actions, video sequences or the opening of other components or programs. At the semiotic level, interactivity is the fictional counterpart to this first property; it is the projection of various manipulations into a world of representation and their translation into action and events in that world.
The illusion of interactivity appears at the disappearance of the mediation the media interactivity provides. This oversight by the spectator implies a transitivity, which effectively allows the manipulations of the computer machine to be subjugated to the illusion.
A direct relation between the desires of the spectator and the actions the figures present on the screen emerges. It is this second level interactivity that grounds the myth of presence, this illusion of a real experience that digital provides us. The process is incredibly simple, at least in appearance. The browser window is entirely black, except for a rectangle at its center, an embedded window in sepia, where we can plainly see a woman laid out on a sheet. She is photographed using a three quarter mid shot; we can only see the upper part of her body, her trunk, her head and her arms.
She is sleeping on her stomach and her face is hidden from us. The image itself is extremely stark. The backdrop wall is non-descript, no distinctive signs, no accessory is present that might allow us to date the scene. We are confronted with a minimal representation: And we can know nothing more. The only information available is revealed by a line of text beneath the window of the image.
Here it is our own space-time determinations that are presented. We in fact see, written in red on black, the exact time our of our visit to the site, as well as the day, the date and the year. The usual cursor of most browsers transforms into a very small square, which seems to be inspired from computer programs used to transform images.
The immobility of the woman is interrupted when suddenly, with the use of our cursor, we click on her neck or any other part of her anatomy. The sleeper awakens, slightly, and moves. The inanimate is alive. Like a jinn we can discretely disturb her sleep, making her move, stretch an arm or turn onto her stomach. With the click of a finger, we can make her lift herself up on her forearms before falling back to sleep. The movements are usually irregular and it requires a bit of time before we master it, but there is no doubt, it is our displacements of the mouse that animate her; it is our gestures that make her turn in her bed.
But is she really sleeping? Does she know we are the ones inciting her to move, as if we were tickling her? Her vulnerability — her sleep is in our hands — makes her all the more desirable. And the absence of space-time determinations Where is she? Where does she come from? We re-territorialize the scene, projecting onto this world our own information. This time is our own, this space is the one we wish it to be, thereby accentuating our adhesion to the representation.
The effect of presence is ensured by this interactivity that links our desires with her movements. If the limits of the digital processes are quickly attained, the impression left by the discovery of the work confirms the initial effectiveness of the produced illusion. The interactivity accentuates the effect of immediacy, which ensures the transparency of the representation.
The movements that mutually correspond ours and hers reinforce the experience of singularity. The illusion, like all forms of playing with appearances, is precarious and quickly fades on closer examination. However, before exploring its limits, we should pay close attention to the force of this process and how it participates in the myth of cyberspace as being able to transcend representation. From the outset, the title of the work itself sets the groundwork for this mythification.
It is what the first man on earth sees, what he can record with his digital camera. Obviously if this webcam belongs to Adam, this sleeping woman can be none other than Eve, the very first woman. But what exactly is the nature of this gaze? Is it innocent or immoral? Obviously its nature depends on the moment and the type of relationship. It is innocent if Eve is sleeping in the earthly Paradise; it is much less so if it occurs after the banishment, after she has tasted, and therefore us included, the forbidden fruit of knowledge between good and evil.
Everything tends to indicate the couple has long left the garden. She is not simply sleeping, she is offering herself to be seen, to be desired. Her nudity is an invitation to voyeurism. If she remains essentially innocent, our gaze directed toward her is not. It has been constructed, and is therefore devoid of any saving grace. Whatever the final verdict may be, the symbolism of this primordial relationship is impossible to escape: The window opens onto a myth of origins. The work uses this imaginary to hyper emphasize the singularity of its experience, its transcendent characteristic, and thereby enhances the effectiveness of the effect of presence.
It is after all only logical these two imaginaries complement each other: The end and the origin share the same space, mirror each other, because they are the two salient points of a single moment of transition, a liminal space where what is disappearing is relay to what is appearing.
They are times of crisis which impose their own specific temporal and eventness logic. These time periods are favorable to apparitions, marvels and wonders, like inanimate objects coming to life by the click of our mouse. The signs play an essential role; they herald the truth to come. The marvel of a woman who reacts to our desires, despite the distance the screen of a computer imposes, is reinforced by the fact that it is the first woman.
This relationship we are establishing between her and us is potentially the start of a new world, a new reality. Our union is at the origin of a hybrid world, between the biological and the digital. If, as we mentioned earlier, this time is our own, it is transformed by our contact with the sleeping woman: It also expresses an important poetic function, as defined by Roman Jakobson. This kind of paronomasia draws attention to its own composition, a reflexivity that is at the heart of the poetic function.
However, this works against the wish to create an illusion of presence, which requires the media become transparent and disappear to enhance the immediacy of the object represented. The paronomasia leads us back directly, just like the quasi-homonym that we eventually discern once our attention drifts to the composition of the syntax instead of its meaning.
The pronunciation is almost identical; only an incredibly attentive ear will pick up the camera from the ruse, the cam from the scam. The alliteration of the fricatives is lost in the tension between the nasal and occlusive. It exploits all its possibilities while at the same time, it undermines its very processes. The interactivity, whose seductive appeal played such an important role in our initial adhesion, is quickly revealed as a simulacrum.
The woman, who will never reveal her face, remains insensible to our presence.
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If the unveiling or the anticipated awakening ensured the dynamism of our relationship and fed an illusion of a real interactivity, their indefinite postponement reveals their illusory character. The interactivity is undone, and with it the singularity of the experience and the effect of immediacy of the representation.
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This is not, after all, anything more than a machination, a representation whose effectiveness can no longer allow us to believe in the absence of any mediation. It is now the gaze of nostalgia that we slowly adopt for a relationship lost for ever, despite appearances to the contrary. Eve does nothing more than turn her back to us; she continues to sleep and live in her world, a world of thought we no longer have access to as we are separated by this computer screen.
ou début de la fin des temps prophètisés
Eve is nothing more than a montage of code; we are clearly out of Eden, forever banished from Paradise where communication with the other was ideal, and is now revealed as impossible. The immediacy and the presence of this other were nothing more than simulacra, the result of media mechanics. More importantly, these media mechanics have a long history. They eloquently speak of this desire to give life, to see forms of life appear where they were least expected. If the figure of the sleeping woman takes its source from the Bible and other literary myths, the actual mechanics are a direct echo of a long celebrated cinematographic sequence.
Everything is static and yet, at the same time, the magic of cinema combines with an incredible intrigue, which allows us to animate this universe, to give it a breath of life. This life is none other than our own. As the film progresses we forget these are fixed images, following one after the other, just like a reader of a novel forgets she or he is simply reading words. Meanwhile, more than half way through the film, a miracle occurs.
The woman, who the man meets and seduces, is shown sleeping in a close up shot. She sleeps and the images begin to blend with each other. She dreams, and the scenes become superimposed. Suddenly, too suddenly for us to anticipate it, she opens her eyes. A filmed sequence barely a few seconds in length is inserted into these fixed images and the appearance happens: The woman opens her eyes and the effects of presence are magnified.
She is there, alive and palpably real. The unexpected has occurred. Something appears, and then almost immediately disappears, as if gripped by time, and this within a short interval between two times of absence, the future and the past, and a presence impresses itself on our minds. The time interval is brief, it only lasts a few seconds. The film resolutely returns to the initial slide show presentation of fixed images. However, the impact is stupendous. It has created a simulacrum of presence. And it creates it with an exceedingly simple technique: Inserted in a limited technological background, the filmed sequence appears as genius, even though it is quite common.
She stays there, silent and asleep, subjected to movements initiated by a fascinated spectator, but always present. The continuous presence of the image helps deconstruct the effect of presence that the interactivity helped create, as if some limit had not been respected. Eve becomes once again a simple image, and the myth regains its normal dimensions. The comparison with the La Jette by Marker clearly confirms that the effectiveness of a representation is indeed completely unrelated to the complexity of the processes used to create it.
In what context does the comprehension of this work transpire? It transpires in a cyberspace where bodies and nudes progressively impose their reign. Pornography, as we know, is one of the most important motors of Internet development. Literally, millions of sites propose bodies in any imaginable position: We can, in fact, choose between being a witness or a spy. Two modes are presented, the first passive, the second active. The terms of engagement are predefined: All we can do is choose our attitude: Whichever one we choose, Eve is always naked and vulnerable, always sleeping and desirable, always distant, if only because she is hidden behind a mountain of code.
This is the heart of the project: This site is a virtual gallery of hypermedia art works. It provides information and space for artistic creation. In this particular exhibition, thirty works are presented where nudity is treated in different yet innovative ways, whether it be with humor, tragedy, esthetics, or politics.
Its processes are therefore inscribed in a space dedicated to nudity, and different representations of the body. And it expresses the nature of the gambit quite well. She does not face us, having nothing to cover herself in her purity; she turns in part her back to us, hiding her face, as if she did in fact have something to hide. The body, naked and pure, has nothing erotic about it: However, the body slightly covered or a covered body, incites itself to be uncovered, and therefore, creates an affirmation of desire and the need for an effect of presence.
The fall, in Biblical terms, is a prelude to desire. Eve alone, amongst all women, has experienced these two states. The first, Eden, is marked by a body without sign or taboo, a neutral body, the same as every other living body in Paradise. In the second state, human, the body is distinguishable. It is a body no longer pure, a body constructed by culture. It is covered, transformed, paired and especially, sexualized.
Sometimes, we may well believe it is only that. It is an ancient paradox that the naked body disappears from sight, while the covered body can never stop showing itself. Nothing ensures an act of presence more than the appearance of a sexualized body, that is, a body whose nudity is no longer a natural state: The effects of presence felt through the initial interactivity rely on the relative nudity of Eve, on the possibility that she might completely turn around so that we could see her face and her body, her breasts, and everything that has been undressed.
As soon as we start moving our cursor over her body, trying to make her act, to wake her up or to show herself, we are voyeurs, hoping for the moment where the hidden will be revealed, as if the whole meaning of the work depended on this revelation. The effectiveness of these processes lies in the dynamic created by every hermeneutical enquiry.
The anticipation of the moment of return — in its literal and narrative sense here! By manipulating the mouse, we never really know if we will discover what needs to be done for her to show herself completely, and thereby answer our desire. The work also fully exploits the principle of voyeurism. It hyper accentuates the function. For this reason the work is not only on incident. The work has transmuted. On the homepage of the portal webcamworld. Every available image is not necessarily pornographic, as this portal provides access to webcams throughout the world, classified by continent.
Nonetheless, the vast majority of the sites listed do propose explicit images. Eve is lost in a mass of bodies. She is also inscribed in a global offering that has no artistic intent. And this is no accident. Her presence here is quite deliberate: Infiltration In the domain of web art, artists have often used different strategies of infiltration, playing with the institutional limits of their work. The critical use of the codes for pornography for example, is a prime example of these types of strategies, which blur the limits between art and non-art.
Their success relies on two essential elements: It is a move to leave the art world to meander through the world of erotic webcams. By listing itself on webcamworld. By mingling with this mass of webcams, by rendering Eve anonymous, Loghman is attempting to pass the ultimate test: Is the experience she offers comparable to that of the others? The answer is clear: With an erotic webcam there is no secondary level of interactivity. The woman is in fact present at the screen, linked to a computer by a sophisticated protocol of communication a digital camera, a telephone connection, a network of information distribution, etc.
She has her own intentionality; she is not simply a fictional counterpart of the spectator. She can answer questions and accept to do what we ask her, but she is first and foremost alive and not controlled by the commands of a computer. Unlike Eve, she is not sleeping, her face is not hidden; on the contrary, her face is visible, as well as the rest of her more often than not. This is no longer interactivity. It is no longer representation, it is communication. We are no longer confronted with a work, but with life. The mediation does not disappear, it is hyper accentuated. The effect of presence is neutralized because there is in fact, quite simply, presence.
Other effects can appear, but presence imposes itself as reality, and this in itself subsumes all processes used to simulate its existence. The interactivity, in its secondary and semiotized form, is the quality that identifies the effectiveness of a representation to imitate an interaction. It disappears when interaction takes up it rightful place.
For a figure to be present and impose itself on our mind, for its effects of presence to be noteworthy, we need an absence, not a banal presence less and less meaningful. A figure is a complex sign that, like all signs, takes the place of an object whose absence it actualizes, while giving the illusion of its presence. However, this presence is symbolic. It is a construction of the imagination. The Eve of Sebastien Loghman is a figure. There is no woman behind the code or the linked screen that gives her form and ensures her a presence — there is only a representation, a set of signs. This Eve is a figure that allows herself to be desired.
She asks us to invest in our desire to manipulate, i. The fact that she does not stop being on our screen, refuses to leave the realm of dreams that is hers, provides her with a great potential for meaning. Nothing is more present than that which makes itself desired. It is the law of the imagination to abhor emptiness.
And she has the fragility of those figures where almost anything can make her disappear. It only requires that the process of representation encounters some error a damaged film, an interrupted communication or a computer virus for her presence to end, and the event of her appearance is cast into the category of a simple memory.
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The effects of presence are fragile, just like the figures that best represent their results. The processes do not guarantee the results hoped for, and their results dissipate rapidly. But their effect is incredible, and remains at the heart of our continuing fascination with all sorts of representation, from the more traditional literature to the more resolutely modern digital.
A fascination for these figures, these beings of thought that mime, in the theatre of the imaginary, our own desires and needs. All the while, as I have tried to show, this fascination does not depend on the technical means or processes used, even if new ones allow us to renew the game. Rather, it is the capacity of the forms projected to carry elements of signification, or, more generally speaking, meaning itself. It relies on the narratives we create, and the myths in which we are ready to believe.
The Role of the Body What role does the body have in this myth of presence that digital makes possible for us? What happens to the nude when the body can be industrially cloned and when nanotechnologies infiltrate the meat on our bones? What is the relationship between generalized nudity and this other form of being naked that awaits us with the experience of esthetic?
It brought it to the screen, it has slowly undressed it, and has exposed it in all its aspects, even the most private and secret. It has ravished and marked it, it has abused its limits and it has transformed it, some desired some horrible, and yet in every instant it has remained a spectacle. The body is our singular reality.
It is, for some, the incarnation of consciousness. For others, it is the ultimate limit that we cannot shed despite contemporary fictions to the contrary. It was the last frontier: Eroticism signals the appearance of these things hidden for so long, with effects of presence of an incredible effectiveness. If an author like William Gass could lament the paucity of vocabulary for the body and its sexuality, insisting on the fact that there were more words to designate types of birds than there were to describe sexual relations , the end of the last century has taken his reprimand quite seriously and has multiplied its representations.
In fact, the body has become an imposed subject. It is no longer hidden; on the contrary, we never cease exhibiting it, playing with its ability to capture our attention the moment its presence is most fragile. Showing the body is to inscribe its unveiling as an event. Its playing the game of appearing and disappearing, of presence and absence, of a gaze that is always surprised to see naked what society has clothed to protect it, even in its most vulgar moments.