now in its one-hundred-and-eightieth year
A friend called me in Michigan Sunday night and said, “Turn on your TV.” It was live coverage of a standoff between a crowd of protesters and the Chicago police near the site of the NATO summit. I watched for about an hour as police sought to move and break up the crowd, which had persisted after the end of a permitted rally.
It was a heavily mediated event, to put it mildly. Not only were there many TV cameramen in the crowd, but many of the protesters were essentially documentarians, using their cameras and phones the whole time.
Over it all were the rooftop TV crews, supplying the coverage that I was watching. This second layer of coverage cast the behavior of the protesters in a different light than the images they themselves were recording. In their eagerness to document the police’s activities, they seemed oddly cut off from what was happening.
There are times when being on the phone detracts from the urgency and immediacy of the moment; perhaps this was one.
Now that the summit’s over, it’s interesting to think what will happen to its vestiges, to all the images and impressions that it produced. They will be circulated and used in myriad different ways, just as I’ve used a fleeting remote glimpse of the summit to write this post.
What did you see of the summit? Tell us, please.