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Lt. John Pike Goes Viral (4)

The behavior of the administrators untimately responsible in this situation, no matter how reprehensible or questionable, did not manifest itself visually in a resonant way. Pike, lowest man on this totem pole, has outdone them all in that regard, rising overnight to global celebrity by becoming an internet meme, the instantly recognizable symbol of the callous, doughnut-heavy, authority-abusing white cop. The proliferation of Pike collages cheers me considerably, demonstrating as it does that the pillory — as a function that empowers the citizenry to mock and shame those who violate the social contract — endures. […]

Lt. John Pike Goes Viral (3)

There’s no ambiguity in these images from UC Davis. This is a purposeful individual in uniform, demonstrating what happens to anyone who refuses to obey his commands and challenges the powerful institution he represents. You’re watching a man knowingly craft a public image of himself in his official role. No reason, then, to feel any sympathy for them if society weighs them in the balance and finds them wanting — nor if juries find them civilly or criminally liable. When Pike waves his can at the observers before starting to spray, he’s telling them to bring it on. […]

Lt. John Pike Goes Viral (2)

Without the videos and still photographs of Lt. John Pike, the campus policeman at UC Davis who was documented on Friday, November 18, pepper-spraying peacefully seated Occupy-movement protesters, we’d have had none of the international uproar that ensued, nor the pandemic photocollage response to his act. So lens-derived imagery has played a crucial dual role here: first by providing undeniable evidence of an event, and then by enabling spiraling critical commentary on that event and its instigator, plus satire thereof. […]

Lt. John Pike Goes Viral (1)

John Heartfield it’s not, but the viral photocollage campaign immortalizing the nonchalant thuggery of Lt. John Pike, the campus policeman at UC Davis who was documented on Friday, November 18, pepper-spraying peacefully seated Occupy-movement protesters, reaffirms that the roots of photocollage lie in vernacular image-making rather than modernist high-art practice while demonstrating that its reach has now become instantaneous and worldwide. […]

Digital Lens Culture: Incident I

We talk so much about what we’ve lost as a consequence of the shift from analog to digital in photography and the other lens-based media — almost exclusively it’s the down side that preoccupies us in that conversation. We need to balance that with thoughtful consideration of the benefits. This car crash in front of our house and its aftermath (including this post) represent the most trivial examples. But our record of it, and this internationally available communication about it, exist due to exactly the same cluster of enabling technologies as the one now driving Iran toward reconfiguration as a more open society. . . . […]