Helmetcams, militarized sensation and 'Somatic War'

McSorley, Kevin (2012). Helmetcams, militarized sensation and 'Somatic War'. Journal of War & Culture Studies, 5(1) pp. 47–58.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/jwcs.5.1.47_1

Abstract

In stark contrast to the abstraction and radical disembodiment of hi-tech virtual war, the mediascape of contemporary counter-insurgency is increasingly dominated by material that is lo-fi, intimate, multi-sensory and decisively linked to the embodied experiences and risks of soldiering. In this article, I explore the visual grammar and affective logics of two recent prominent public mediations of the war in Afghanistan, both dominated by the use of video footage recorded from camcorders mounted on soldiers' helmets. Epitomized in this helmetcam footage, I suggest that it is through an emerging aesthetic regime of 'somatic war' – that foregrounds sensory immersion and real feeling, vital living and bodily vulnerability – that the endless war in Afghanistan is currently being made perceptible and palpable.

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