Monday 24 May 2010


Definition - The practice of destroying images, especially those created for religious veneration.

Digital images would seem to be inherently iconoclastic – unrealistic and irreverent. (Wells, 2003:203)

Three instances of iconoclasm which I want to look at include: National Geographic’s manipulation of the pyramids of Giza, Benetton’s blackening of the Queen’s face and Newsweek’s unconventional portrait of Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. (Wells, 2003:203)

The Italian clothes company Bennetton blackened the Queen as part of an advertising campaign which addressed issues of race. (Wells, 2003:203)

Ritchin discusses the issue of Newsweek which ran a feature on the film Rain Man and included an image of Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise apparently shoulder to shoulder in their camaraderie over their joint box-office success. (Wells, 2003:203-204)

The case of the moving pyramids is already well documented. In February 1982 National Geographic published a ‘photograph’ of two of the pyramids at Giza on its front cover. The image had been digitally altered in order to obtain the required vertical format from the original horizontal format photograph. The alteration involved moving the two pyramids closer together.

However, photography was considered to be the means of representing this reassuring world in which everything appeared to stay in its time, space and place. (Wells, 2003:204)


Wells, Liz (2003) The Photography Reader. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge