In February this year ISIS released a video, Healing the Believers’ Chests, which showed Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh being burnt alive. Around the world, people were shocked by the torture and murder shown in the video – but also surprised by the production’s Hollywood aesthetic, with its slick aerial shots, use of montage and sophisticated animations.
What does it mean when a terror cell adopts the aesthetic of the enemy it seeks to unravel?
If Hollywood is the opposite of reality, why have those in the Western media been so quick to accept the veracity of slick ISIS productions? Do facts even matter, or is the threat of violence – as opposed to the inflicting of violence – the point of all horror movies? How do we understand the difference between performed and documentary horror if the vision is near-identical?
Join renowned visual artist and filmmaker Philip Brophy for a discussion of terror, reality and the Hollywood/ISIS feedback loop. Hosted by Helen Hughes.
Graphic content warning: While this event will not include the screening of footage depicting actual violence or confronting imagery, it may include still images (of dubious veracity) which some attendees may find disturbing or uncomfortable.
Philip Brophy is a respected academic, filmmaker, writer and musician. He writes for Frieze, The Wire, Film Comment, and Real Time.
Helen Hughes is co-founder and co-editor of Discipline journal and a curator at Gertrude Contemporary. She recently submitted her PhD in Art History at the University of Melbourne.