The Ontology of the Digital: War on Terror and Post-9/11 Visual Culture
The 9/11 attacks converged with the rapid technological changes of the new millennium, when the widespread diffusion of digital technology challenged the indexicality of the image. This confrontation created a withering of the epistemological certainties regarding history and photography-based media. The subsequent wars generated controversies over privacy and surveillance, rendition, civil rights, and prisoner abuses. These events inevitably influenced Hollywood cinema. Investigative directors like Bigelow and Morris represent the War on Terror by embracing the ultraprofessional procedural subgenre, where the process itself is elevated to a dominant value independent of any particular goal and of any positive value or ideal of justice. Poitras took these themes and transformed them into self-reflective challenges to the transparency of film, marking the future of investigative cinema.