Artworks, Issue 21, Past Issues
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Misprints

Paul Qaysi

“Misprints” investigates the effect of destruction, trauma, and memory through deliberately accidental printing. Photojournalism ‘represents’ casualties of war; they refer to an actual event. Misprints suppress the literal, and ‘present’ destruction and the meaning of loss of life which is reconstructed in afterthoughts, how we think about it over time.

Civilian Killings. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [061457 FEB 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 9 x 12 inches. Note: This is documented in [282013 MAR 13 Study Sheet] the same photograph printed as [061457 FEB 13 Misprint], but it exploded very differently.

Civilian Killings. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [061457 FEB 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 9 x 12 inches. Note: This is documented in [282013 MAR 13 Study Sheet] the same photograph printed as [061457 FEB 13 Misprint], but it exploded very differently.

In my first series of “Misprints,” I researched, and organized stories about civilian and American causalities of the Iraq War, that’s documented in hundreds of photographs, news outlets, and Iraqi/American blogs. The photographs I use are mostly in the public domain since they are works of the United States Government that are excluded from copyright law, while a few others, are under fair usage copyright for the progress of useful arts. The collected photographs are assembled on “Study Sheets” organized by names, location, and dates of the incidents and classified by generic types—civilian, soldiers, IED road explosion, house/building explosion, and so on.

Civilian Killings. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [080132 FEB 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 9 x 12 inches. Note: Two pillows neatly stacked in a corner beyond a body shrouded in white cloth. The ornate rugs are stained red, nothing more.

Civilian Killings. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [080132 FEB 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 9 x 12 inches. Note: Two pillows neatly stacked in a corner beyond a body shrouded in white cloth. The ornate rugs are stained red, nothing more.

Civilian Killings. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [061432 FEB 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 9 x 12 inches. Note: Q. Okay. And you found out that he had taken pictures and you told him… A. He was with me, sir, and he was snapping some pictures and I was like, Sergeant, just delete those because you are just getting yourself in a world of trouble. So he said, Roger that, sir.

Civilian Killings. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [061432 FEB 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 9 x 12 inches. Note: Q. Okay. And you found out that he had taken pictures and you told him… A. He was with me, sir, and he was snapping some pictures and I was like, Sergeant, just delete those because you are just getting yourself in a world of trouble. So he said, Roger that, sir.

I cull these widely distributed photographs and print them on the wrong side of inkjet transparency film which is then presented on back-lit panels. Without the chemical substrate, the ink explodes and pools, rendering the original images difficult or impossible to recognize. Viewers can examine and experience not the representation of death, as we commonly do in the media, but the actual dismemberment and carnage of the image itself.

Civilian Killings. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [052150 FEB 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 3 3/4 x 8 inches. Note: Marines stopped the white taxi the men were riding in, then allegedly shot them after a bomb exploded nearby. The incident was the first on a day of violence in Haditha that left 24 civilians dead, including women and children.

Civilian Killings. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [052150 FEB 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 3 3/4 x 8 inches. Note: Marines stopped the white taxi the men were riding in, then allegedly shot them after a bomb exploded nearby. The incident was the first on a day of violence in Haditha that left 24 civilians dead, including women and children.

Civilian Killings. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [032137 FEB 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 9 x 12 inches. Note: Licensing, this image or file contains materials that originally came from the United States Marine Corps. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Haditha_massacre.jpg

Civilian Killings. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [032137 FEB 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 9 x 12 inches. Note: Licensing, this image or file contains materials that originally came from the United States Marine Corps. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Haditha_massacre.jpg

The combination of the destructive process manifested in the transformation of the original photograph into blown up abstract colors and broken borders is compelling in several ways. The seepage and splotches evoke a psychological detachment that often happens in the face of violence and physical destruction. The misprinting process is the unacknowledged and forgotten incidents of war. Locations, subjects, and equipment in the images remain blurred and indeterminate, like the fate of cities and human bodies ravaged by war.

House. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [312348 JAN 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 8 x 10 1/2 inches. Note: In reports and selected testimony, Marines talk about clearing a house of suspected insurgents. “That happens when you have to clear a house…” Just a summary of the facts. Marines go into one house, eight–six people killed in the first house in order to clear it. A mud-brick house.

House. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [312348 JAN 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 8 x 10 1/2 inches. Note: In reports and selected testimony, Marines talk about clearing a house of suspected insurgents. “That happens when you have to clear a house…” Just a summary of the facts. Marines go into one house, eight–six people killed in the first house in order to clear it. A mud-brick house.

Humvee. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [312133 JAN 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 8 x 10 1/2 inches. Note: The problems of reference and truth are addressed in the titling convention. There, I reconsider referentiality to an event through rupture. Photographs record an event, Misprints produce very unstable images. Each work corresponds to a specific  time and space, with a unique set of irreversible  circumstances.

Humvee. Haditha, Iraq. November 19, 2005 [312133 JAN 13 Misprint], 2013. Inkjet monoprint transparency in lightbox, 8 x 10 1/2 inches. Note: The problems of reference and truth are addressed in the titling convention. There, I reconsider referentiality to an event through rupture. Photographs record an event, Misprints produce very unstable images. Each work corresponds to a specific time and space, with a unique set of irreversible circumstances.

2014 Misprint

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