Unconscionable or Communicable: The Transference of Holocaust Photography in Cyber Space

By Delevie, Brian; Ingham, Isshaela | Afterimage, May-June 2004 | Go to article overview

Unconscionable or Communicable: The Transference of Holocaust Photography in Cyber Space


Delevie, Brian, Ingham, Isshaela, Afterimage


Holocaust on Your Plate, a campaign launched in 2003 by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), is a controversial example of the exploitation of significant historical images. PETA's use of concentration camp photographs to mirror the current conditions of factory farms and slaughterhouses has attracted negative attention from the Anti-Defamation League, the Canadian Jewish Congress and many Holocaust survivors, organizations, writers, artists and museums. Since this promotion began, the following statement by Manuel Prutschi, the national director of community relations for the Canadian Jewish Congress has pervaded the debate: "to equate what is truly one of the most monumental crimes in the history of mankind to the abusive treatment of animals is totally unconscionable." Detractors' moral and ethical criticism has not challenged PETA's overall crusade against cruelty to animals but it has targeted their analogous presentation using Holocaust imagery. Prutschi's sentiments reflect the convictions of many who view the Holocaust as an incomparable circumstance in history for which there are boundaries to its discourse and its imagery. To transgress these boundaries, to jeopardize the integrity of Holocaust remembrance is, in the opinion of many, "unconscionable."

In displaying side-by-side photographic messages on billboards, in exhibitions (now touring Europe) and on the Internet, PETA's objective is to heighten public awareness of animal cruelty and to inspire action for its cause. However, the use of these momentous images of human suffering alongside those of chicken coops and slaughtered farm yard animals divisively capitalizes on viewers' recognition of and response to the atrocious conditions that humans suffered and that are documented within these historical photographs. In its presentation of the ostensibly barbarous conditions during the Holocaust, the exhibition utilizes the public's response to these well-recognized photographs in order to enhance their analogy that the atrocious conditions imposed on humans by humans during WWII are equal to the treatment of animals by the food industry today. Supporters of PETA's campaign justify their juxtaposition of these images; yet, the opposition holds that the analogy is grossly over simplified and that the photo ensemble is exemplary of the way in which such usage compromises the integrity of original photos and what they represent. As regards the level of exploitation that these images have reached via several forms of traditional media and new media, this controversial campaign calls attention to the degree to which an image's integrity can be disseminated in the face of even the most ethical considerations of our time. It forces us to consider our relationship to images that are not only deliberately arranged and placed out of context to voice alternate messages, this controversy asks us to consider what becomes of such images once they enter the digital realm and are unleashed into cyber space.

PETA's use of Holocaust images alone is not unprecedented. For nearly sixty years, the public has viewed photos of the Holocaust in incongruous associations through a variety of media. Since the end of World War II, images of Holocaust atrocities have had an important part in what is termed, bearing witness. As accurate records of an event that affected an entire people and the world, their role is to authenticate personal and historical experiences and provide access to this event for following generations. Under the auspice of bearing witness to the Holocaust, the obligation of survivors, groups, and institutions such as the Jewish Anti-Defamation League and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is to preserve the integrity of Holocaust discourse and its artifacts. Subsequently, Holocaust images hold the position of both memorializing the past and having import for the future. However, media's and institutions' incessant display of the same photographs of Nazi death camps or heaped corpses has made an impression that causes the images to be seen as icons of terror and atrocity rather than as specific records of an authentic moment in time. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Unconscionable or Communicable: The Transference of Holocaust Photography in Cyber Space
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.