In their most basic form, bridges help people get from point A to point B. Yet sometimes – like in the case of the Rakotz bridge in Kromlau, Germany (pictured) – the structure can transform the very landscape around it and become a work of art.
We went looking for some of the world’s most beautiful bridges and found plenty of nominations from users on the question-and-answer site Quora.com. Here are a few of their selections, remarkable for their physical beauty, architectural ingenuity and harmony with their surroundings
Spanning the sky in Malaysia
Architect Mayur Kanaiya gave special props to the Langkawi Sky Bridge, a 125m-long curving cable bridge atop Gunung Mat Cincang mountain on Pulau Langkawi island. “The curving bridge deck allows visitors an intimate experience of the forest canopy and wildlife,” said Kanaiya. “It’s a great example of treading lightly on the land
A natural wonder in India
Instead of bricks, mortar or even standard planks of wood, the village of Cherrapunji in the state of Meghalaya – known as one of the wettest places in the world – builds bridges out of tree roots.
The local War-Khasis tribe learned long ago how to tame the roots of the native ficus to grow in a certain direction, using bamboo as support. Some of the bridges are more than 30m long and can support the weight of 50 people, said Ravi Kodakandla, a Quora user from Hyderabad, India.
Going below ground in the Netherlands
While most bridges cross above water, the sunken bridge at Fort de Roovere near the village of Halsteren sinks just below it. Architecture student Wu Zhuoyi nominated the bridge because it takes visitors through a moat. The walls function like a dam to keep the water out and the structure blends seamlessly with its surroundings, remaining invisible from a distance.
Acrobatics on display in London
Forget the drawbridge. In London, the 12m-long Rolling Bridge curls to one side to let boats through the Grand Union Canal at Paddington Basin. “Its eight steel and timber hinged sections will curl up until the two ends of the bridge meet, forming an octagonal shape,” said Koen Kas, an entrepreneur from Belgium. “Every Friday at noon, the bridge performs its acrobatics for admiring crowds.” (Photofusion/Universal Images
The tenacity of mankind in Yemen
Mechanical engineer Achilleas Vortselas had a special affection for stone bridges. “No modern bridge can compare in grace with traditional stone arch bridges,” he said. “Stone bridges often demonstrate the tenacity of mankind to overcome physical obstacles, even with modest technical means. Shaharah Bridge in Yemen is a marvellous case of that.
Blockbuster is gone. So are Lehman Brothers, Atari, Pan Am, Circuit City and countless others each year. Startups fail, too, with 80% going belly up within the first 18 months. But here’s something to consider in comparison: criminal syndicates don’t go out of business.
The Chinese Triads have been around since the 17th century. For 25 years, Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel has outmaneuvered vicious competition at home as well as the United States’ $51 billion–annually–“War on Drugs.”
Net margins for criminal organizations shame their legal counterparts; while airlines earn 1.8% and oil companies average 8%, cocaine cartels earn a 93% net margin–for just wholesale. Profit per full-time employee ratios are also off the charts.
Google’s profit per FTE is $270,000 and Apple’s is $460,000, both of which are impressive. But the Sinaloa Cartel’s profit per FTE is estimated at $20 million. The global reach of these organizations is also expanding. Beyond North America, the Sinaloa Cartel is now active in Europe, Asia, and Australia.
All of this money and growth is happening despite the efforts of governments and law enforcement agencies to eradicate them. Imagine if there were federal agents whose sole mission was to put Sears or J.C. Penney out of business? I’m thinking they wouldn’t be around. Or, what if Amazon Prime had to operate in secret? Each year, lots of brands die without any help from the FBI or ATF. And yet criminal syndicates make immense profits mostly in competitive commodities businesses. So how do they do it?
In a word: culture. Criminal syndicates are far superior at creating successful cultures than the vast majority of the Fortune 500. All successful criminal syndicates, across cultures, geographies, and endeavors, are primarily culture-driven brands. Despite their significant differences, these culture-driven brands have three key attributes in common.
The Japanese yakuza identify themselves as “chivalrous organizations” and operate within strict codes of conduct that express very specific organizational values. The Sinaloa Cartel, unlike its competitors, actively cultivates a populist image and claims to adamantly oppose kidnapping and the murder of innocent civilians.
These beliefs govern organizational behavior–who they are, what they do, and what they won’t do. And theses credos are far more actionable and authentic than the “values” posters hung in corporate cafeterias. In place of employee handbooks and other corporate drivel, these organizations have distinctive rituals, symbols, and artifacts to express their credos.
Corporations can over-index on “innovation.” But improvisation is a form of innovation, and just as important. Asstreaming technologies emerged, did Blockbuster improvise and move quickly to shift the way it did business? Not quickly enough. And that’s reflective of mainstream corporate cultures that tend to think of innovation as a “process” rather than a behavior.
Criminal syndicates are different; they think of innovation as an organizational imperative. A drug smuggler who finds a new way across a border knows that customs agents will eventually discover the innovation, so he needs to always think of new ways.
The Sinaloa Cartel was the first to design and construct a tunnel under the U.S.-Mexico border. The cartel also managed to have family members hired as border agents, and even used a catapult to counter a high-tech fence in Arizona.
The yakuza benefit from highly diversified revenue streams, which they’ve systematically grown from traditional gambling and prostitution rackets to modern construction and transportation businesses. Where there is a threat or an opportunity, criminal syndicates improvise.
While too many corporations bury employees within organizational charts that are so big there’s specialized software for creating them, criminal syndicates stick to small teams. With just an estimated 150 members, the Sinaloa Cartel produces revenue equivalent to the GDP of Belize (a country with more than 330,000 people).
And while the Yamaguchi-gumi is the largest yakuza organization with more than 20,000 active members, those members are spread across 2,500 different businesses and 500 sub-groups. The teams are small, but they can pull significant resources from the whole.
Just as importantly, the small team structure nurtures an entrepreneurial zeal and an emphasis on doing. With so much at risk, with everyone empowered, and with everyone aligned through shared values and a unifying sense of purpose, criminal syndicates use small teams to accomplish really big things.
There it is, the underworld model for success: small-but-big teams inside belief-driven cultures improvising continuously. Doesn’t sound so criminal, does it? That’s because it’s a familiar formula for some of the best legal brands in the world, from Apple and Nike to Virgin and Zappos. One of the familiar refrains about criminal syndicates is that they are run “like a legitimate business.”
Another is just a sorrowful question: What if these talented criminals had only used their talents for good? Both of these are missing the point. Legitimate businesses wish they had the cultural clarity and business results of these underworld organizations.
I don’t mean to downplay the harmful, reprehensible activities criminal syndicates deal in. But they could teach legitimate businesses an important organizational strategy: work toward small-but-big teams, create belief-driven cultures, and improvise continuously. Because it works.
AT FENDER, NEW INTERACTIVE DESIGNERS RECEIVE BOTH A LAPTOP AND A POUCH WITH PENS AND PAPER. THEY USE THE PENS AND PAPER MORE.
In the early stages of conceiving a site, web and UX designers will create wireframes–a digital blueprint which lays out the structure, priority, and hierarchy of a website without yet worrying about the graphical nuances. While most of this work is done with software such as OmniGraffle, designers’ earliest, roughest ideas are often sketched out by hand.
For the interactive design team of guitar makerFender going computer-free is essential; it’s not just the earliest concepts that get the hand-drawn treatment. Instead, the team sticks to pen and paper throughout most of its wireframing process: from the process of mapping out a web page’s layout, anything from the header and footer boxes to specific boxed-out sections in the body of a page.
Making a digital investment early on makes it harder to let an idea go later on in the design process, so the interactive designers at Fender are encouraged to think through a concept before tinkering for hours in Photoshop to make it look pretty.
The team doesn’t get its hands dirty with computers until much later in the process, during the visual conception and coding stages. Cycling through hand-penned drawings promotes early collaboration with non-designers who might never use Illustrator or Photoshop. Anyone can wireframe with pen and paper, and that’s especially important since even company stakeholders contribute their own input during the wireframing phase.
“You don’t want to jump into Photoshop when everyone is sitting around the table throwing out ideas on paper,” says Mike West, interactive design manager at Fender.
In later stages of web design, software tools are a better option than pen and paper, but only when it’s time to refine a solid concept. Wireframing, however, is supposed to be mutable.
Everyone from the Fender CEO to the engineering team can throw ideas around before investing in digitizing the concept. “It gives us the ability to sit in a room and break down barriers. Sit around a big table and throw around ideas, have them participate. And everyone can grab a pen,” says West.
Fender typically plays with five to six ideas in a collaborative design session and will integrate them into a couple of ideas to move forward with. Doing it this way, West has found that his team ends up with more solid ideas in the final design stages, since the early collaborations filter out most of the other ideas.
West essentially needs to introduce new hires on his interactive team to pen and paper, and gets them all started with a sketch kit called theInkwell–a pen-and-paper kit designed for web designers, by web designers. The newbies need a few trials of getting used to the idea of sketching by hand and collaborating with other people first before following through with a visual solution. But it’s a quick learning curve.
Fender’s interactive design team used their hand-drawn approach as part of the process for its new American Design Experience site. But as with other Fender site redesigns, the interactive team kept its computers closed even after the cross-departmental discussions finished. West and his team put their artistic skills to use during the creative sketching sessions, to get an idea of the site’s graphics, using pen and paper one step beyond wireframing.
“We’re actually drawing a guitar. How would it–would there be a shadow underneath it? Where would the buttons live, and what kind of graphical elements would you have on that?” says West. After those creative sessions, the team refined the site’s concept digitally and moved onto coding the real thing for the web.
For new interactive designers, pen and paper can help retrain the design mind. It’s an unassuming tool that lets you ideate fast and gets you out from behind your computer screen. It’s why the folks at Fender are sitting around with bags of pens and blocks of paper. West makes sure everyone on his team has them.
THE LIKES OF DAMIEN HIRST AND YOKO ONO CREATED FANTASTICAL MAPS FOR A NEW ATLAS THAT RETHINKS CARTOGRAPHY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY.
Before Google Maps came along, cartographers were artists as much as they were charters of geographies, and maps were aesthetic objects as much as they were wayfinding tools.
In Mapping it Out: An Alternative Atlas of Contemporary Cartographies, Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator of the Serpentine Gallery, brings artistry and imagination back to mapmaking.
In an effort to rethink what maps can be and do, he invited 130 artists, designers, writers, scientists, architects, and thinkers to create maps, of interior or exterior worlds, real or imagined, in any medium.
The result is a visually arresting volume filled with works by the likes of Yoko Ono, Matthew Barney, Ed Ruscha, and Gilbert and George, combining infographics and cartography with contemporary art and science.
These maps won’t help anyone get anywhere in the earthly realm, but they take the reader on strange mental trips: there are maps of human emotions and diseases; hand-drawn visualizations of the Internet; maps of airplane flight patterns; and blueprints of unchartable territories, like chaos, Heaven, and Hell.
Most are more visual metaphors than wayfinding tools, and in some cases, are so loftily conceptual that they could benefit from some sort of key, such as a maps of the dreams of several people sleeping in “fairy rings.” Perhaps the most straightforward is, surprisingly, Damien Hirst’s scribbled map, “How to get to my house,” if you ever want to visit him (“call first,” he writes).
The book’s presentation of cartographies as art instead of as practical navigational tools reminds us that maps are always abstractions, to some degree–that they “don’t work, and never have,” as novelist Tom McCarthy writes in his introduction. He goes on:
Maps are not copies, they are projections . . . When drawing up a map, a cartographer must choose between zenithal, gnomonic, stereographic, orthographic, globular, conical, cylindrical, or sinusoidal modes of projections.
Each of these brings with it as many disadvantages as benefits. Projections are not neutral, natural, or ‘given:’ they are constructed, configured, underpinned by various–and quite arbitrary–conventions…. And yet, explicitly or not, all maps carry with them a certain claim; that this one is somehow truer than the others with which it competes.
The book comes at the height of a data visualization craze: in the age of information overload, we rely on well-designed maps and charts to help us distill barrages of facts into digestible chunks. By imposing design on wild, un-designed spaces, cartographers distill overwhelming territories into elegant illustrations, bringing our outsized world down to human scale.
Mapping it Out: An Alternative Atlas of Contemporary Cartographies is available for $42 from Thames & Hudson.
When Kenneth Jarecke photographed an Iraqi man burned alive, he thought it would change the way Americans saw the Gulf War. But the media wouldn’t run the picture.
The Iraqi soldier died attempting to pull himself up over the dashboard of his truck. The flames engulfed his vehicle and incinerated his body, turning him to dusty ash and blackened bone. In a photograph taken soon afterward, the soldier’s hand reaches out of the shattered windshield, which frames his face and chest.The colors and textures of his hand and shoulders look like those of the scorched and rusted metal around him. Fire has destroyed most of his features, leaving behind a skeletal face, fixed in a final rictus. He stares without eyes.
On February 28, 1991, Kenneth Jarecke stood in front of the charred man, parked amid the carbonized bodies of his fellow soldiers, and photographed him. At one point, before he died this dramatic mid-retreat death, the soldier had had a name. He’d fought in Saddam Hussein’s army and had a rank and an assignment and a unit. He might have been devoted to the dictator who sent him to occupy Kuwait and fight the Americans. Or he might have been an unlucky young man with no prospects, recruited off the streets of Baghdad.
Jarecke took the picture just before a ceasefire officially ended Operation Desert Storm—the U.S.-led military action that drove Saddam Hussein and his troops out of Kuwait, which they had annexed and occupied the previous August. The image and its anonymous subject might have come to symbolize the Gulf War. Instead, it went unpublished in the United States, not because of military obstruction but because of editorial choices.
It’s hard to calculate the consequences of a photograph’s absence. But sanitized images of warfare, The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf argues, make it “easier … to accept bloodless language” such as 1991 references to “surgical strikes” or modern-day terminology like “kinetic warfare.”
Not every gruesome photo reveals an important truth about conflict and combat. Last month, The New York Times decided—for valid ethical reasons—to remove images of dead passengers from an online story about Flight MH-17 in Ukraine and replace them with photos of mechanical wreckage. Sometimes though, omitting an image means shielding the public from the messy, imprecise consequences of a war—making the coverage incomplete, and even deceptive.
In the case of the charred Iraqi soldier, the hypnotizing and awful photograph ran against the popular myth of the Gulf War as a “video-game war”—a conflict made humane through precision bombing and night-vision equipment. By deciding not to publish it, TIME magazine and the Associated Press denied the public the opportunity to confront this unknown enemy and consider his excruciating final moments.
The image was not entirely lost. The Observer in the United Kingdom and Libération in France both published it after the American media refused. Many months later, the photo also appeared in American Photo, where it stoked some controversy, but came too late to have a significant impact.
All of this surprised the photographer, who had assumed the media would be only too happy to challenge the popular narrative of a clean, uncomplicated war. “When you have an image that disproves that myth,” he says today, “then you think it’s going to be widely published.”
“Let me say up front that I don’t like the press,” one Air Force officer declared, starting a January 1991 press briefing on a blunt note. The military’s bitterness toward the media was in no small part a legacy of the Vietnam coverage decades before. By the time the Gulf War started, the Pentagon had developed access policies that drew on press restrictions used in the U.S. wars in Grenada and Panama in the 1980s.
Under this so-called “pool” system, the military grouped print, TV, and radio reporters together with cameramen and photojournalists and sent these small teams on orchestrated press junkets, supervised by Public Affairs Officers (PAOs) who kept a close watch on their charges.
By the time Operation Desert Storm began in mid-January 1991, Kenneth Jarecke had decided he no longer wanted to be a combat photographer—a profession, he says, that “dominates your life.” But after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, Jarecke developed a low opinion of the photojournalism coming out of Desert Shield, the pre-war operation to build up troops and equipment in the Gulf. “It was one picture after another of a sunset with camels and a tank,” he says. War was approaching and Jarecke says he saw a clear need for a different kind of coverage. He felt he could fill that void.
After the U.N.’s January 15, 1991 deadline for Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait came and went, Jarecke, now certain he should go, convinced TIMEmagazine to send him to Saudi Arabia. He packed up his cameras and shipped out from Andrews Air Force Base on January 17—the first day of the aerial bombing campaign against Iraq.
Out in the field with the troops, Jarecke recalls, “anybody could challenge you,” however absurdly and without reason. He remembers straying 30 feet away from his PAO and having a soldier bark at him, “What are you doing?” Jarecke retorted, “What do you mean what am I doing?”
Recounting the scene two decades later, Jarecke still sounds exasperated. “Some first lieutenant telling me, you know, where I’m gonna stand. In the middle of the desert.”
As the war picked up in early February, PAOs accompanied Jarecke and several other journalists as they attached to the Army XVIII Airborne Corps and spent two weeks at the Saudi-Iraqi border doing next to nothing. That didn’t mean nothing was happening—just that they lacked access to the action.
During the same period, military photojournalist Lee Corkran was embedding with the U.S. Air Force’s 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron in Doha, Qatar, and capturing their aerial bombing campaigns. He was there to take pictures for the Pentagon to use as it saw fit—not primarily for media use. In his images, pilots look over their shoulders to check on other planes.
Bombs hang off the jets’ wings, their sharp-edged darkness contrasting with the soft colors of the clouds and desert below. In the distance, the curvature of the earth is visible. On missions, Corkran’s plane would often flip upside down at high speed as the pilots dodged missiles, leaving silvery streaks in the sky. Gravitational forces multiplied the weight of his cameras—so much so that if he had ever needed to eject from the plane, his equipment could have snapped his neck. This was the air war that comprised most of the combat mission in the Gulf that winter.
The scenes Corkran witnessed weren’t just off-limits to Jarecke; they were also invisible to viewers in the United States, despite the rise of 24-hour reporting during the conflict. Gulf War television coverage, as Ken Burns wrote at the time, felt cinematic and often sensational, with “distracting theatrics” and “pounding new theme music,” as if “the war itself might be a wholly owned subsidiary of television.”
Some of the most widely seen images of the air war were shot not by photographers, but rather by unmanned cameras attached to planes and laser-guided bombs. Grainy shots and video footage of the roofs of targeted buildings, moments before impact, became a visual signature of a war that was deeply associated with phrases like “smart bombs” and “surgical strike.”
The images were taken at an altitude that erased the human presence on the ground. They were black-and-white shots, some with bluish or greenish casts. One from February 1991, published in the photo book In The Eye of Desert Storm by the now-defunct Sygma photo agency, showed a bridge that was being used as an Iraqi supply route. In another, black plumes of smoke from French bombs blanketed an Iraqi Republican Guard base like ink blots. None of them looked especially violent.
The hardware-focused coverage of the war removed the empathy that Jarecke says is crucial in photography, particularly photography that’s meant to document death and violence. “A photographer without empathy,” he remarks, “is just taking up space that could be better used.”
In late February, during the war’s final hours, Jarecke and the rest of his press pool drove across the desert, each of them taking turns behind the wheel. They had been awake for several days straight. “We had no idea where we were. We were in a convoy,” Jarecke recalls. He dozed off.
When he woke up, they had parked and the sun was about to rise. It was almost 6 o’clock in the morning. The group received word that a ceasefire was a few hours away, and Jarecke remembers another member of his pool cajoling the press officer into abandoning the convoy and heading toward Kuwait City.
The group figured they were in southern Iraq, somewhere in the desert about 70 miles away from Kuwait City. They began driving toward Kuwait, hitting Highway 8 and stopping to take pictures and record video footage. They came upon a jarring scene: burned-out Iraqi military convoys and incinerated corpses. Jarecke sat in the truck, alone with Patrick Hermanson, a public affairs officer. He moved to get out of the vehicle with his cameras.
Hermanson found the idea of photographing the scene distasteful. When I asked him about the conversation, he recalled asking Jarecke, “What do you need to take a picture of that for?” Implicit in his question was a judgment: There was something dishonorable about photographing the dead.
“I’m not interested in it either,” Jarecke recalls replying. He told the officer that he didn’t want his mother to see his name next to photographs of corpses. “But if I don’t take pictures like these, people like my mom will think war is what they see in movies.” As Hermanson remembers, Jarecke added, “It’s what I came here to do. It’s what I have to do.”
“He let me go,” Jarecke recounts. “He didn’t try to stop me. He could have stopped me because it was technically not allowed under the rules of the pool. But he didn’t stop me and I walked over there.”
More than two decades later, Hermanson notes that Jarecke’s resulting picture was “pretty special.” He doesn’t need to see the photograph to resurrect the scene in his mind. “It’s seared into my memory,” he says, “as if it happened yesterday.”
The incinerated man stared back at Jarecke through the camera’s viewfinder, his blackened arm reaching over the edge of the truck’s windshield. Jarecke recalls that he could “see clearly how precious life was to this guy, because he was fighting for it. He was fighting to save his life to the very end, till he was completely burned up. He was trying to get out of that truck.”
He wrote later that year in American Photo magazine that he “wasn’t thinking at all about what was there; if I had thought about how horrific the guy looked I wouldn’t have been able to make the picture.” Instead, he maintained his emotional remove by attending to the more prosaic and technical elements of photography.
He kept himself steady; he concentrated on the focus. The sun shone in through the rear of the destroyed truck and backlit his subject. Another burned body lay directly in front of the vehicle, blocking a close-up shot, so Jarecke used the full 200mm zoom lens on his Canon EOS-1.
In his other shots of the same scene, it is apparent that the soldier could never have survived, even if he had pulled himself up out of the driver’s seat and through the window. The desert sand around the truck is scorched. Bodies are piled behind the vehicle, indistinguishable from one another. A lone, burned man lies face down in front of the truck, everything incinerated except the soles of his bare feet. In another photograph, a man lies spread-eagle on the sand, his body burned to the point of disintegration, but his face mostly intact and oddly serene. A dress shoe lies next to his body.
The group continued on across the desert, passing through more stretches of highway littered with the same fire-ravaged bodies and vehicles. Jarecke and his pool were possibly the first members of the Western media to come across these scenes, which appeared along what eventually became known as the Highway of Death, sometimes referred to as the Road to Hell.
The retreating Iraqi soldiers had been trapped. They were frozen in a traffic jam, blocked off by the Americans, by Mutla Ridge, by a minefield. Some fled on foot; the rest were strafed by American planes that swooped overhead, passing again and again to destroy all the vehicles. Milk vans, fire trucks, limousines, and one bulldozer appeared in the wreckage alongside armored cars and trucks, and T-55 and T-72 tanks. Most vehicles held fully loaded, but rusting, Kalashnikov variants.
According to descriptions from reporters like The New York Times’R.W. Apple and theObserver’s Colin Smith, amid the plastic mines, grenades, ammunition, and gas masks, a quadruple-barreled anti-aircraft gun stood crewless and still pointing skyward. Personal items, like a photograph of a child’s birthday party and broken crayons, littered the ground beside weapons and body parts. The body count never seems to have been determined, although the BBC puts it in the “thousands.”
“In one truck,” wrote Colin Smith in a March 3 dispatch for the Observer, “the radio had been knocked out of the dashboard but was still wired up and faintly picking up some plaintive Arabic air which sounded so utterly forlorn I thought at first it must be a cry for help.”
Following the February 28 ceasefire that ended Desert Storm, Jarecke’s film roll with the image of the incinerated soldier reached the Joint Information Bureau in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where the military coordinated and corralled the press, and where pool editors received and filed stories and photographs.
At that point, with the operation over, the photograph would not have needed to pass through a security screening, says Maryanne Golon, who was the on-site photo editor for TIME in Saudi Arabia and is now director of photography for TheWashington Post. Despite the obviously shocking content, she tells me she reacted like an editor in work mode. She selected it, without debate or controversy among the pool editors, to be scanned and transmitted. The image made its way back to the editors’ offices in New York City.
Jarecke also made his way from Saudi Arabia to New York. Passing through Heathrow Airport on a layover, he bought a copy of the March 3 edition of the Observer. He opened it to find his photograph on page 9, printed at the top across eight columns under the heading, “The real face of war.”
That weekend in March, when the Observer’s editors made the final decision to print the image, every magazine in North America made the opposite choice. Jarecke’s photograph did not even appear on the desks of most U.S. newspaper editors (the exception being The New YorkTimes, which had a photo wire service subscription but nonetheless declined to publish the image).
The photograph was entirely absent from American media until far past the time when it was relevant to ground reporting from Iraq and Kuwait. Golon says she wasn’t surprised by this, even though she’d chosen to transmit it to the American press. “I didn’t think there was any chance they’d publish it,” she says.
Apart from the Observer, the only major news outlet to run the Iraqi soldier’s photograph at the time was the Parisian news daily Libération,which ran it on March 4. Both newspapers refrained from putting the image on the front page, though they ran it prominently inside.
But Aidan Sullivan, the pictures editor for the British Sunday Times, told the British Journal of Photography on March 14 that he had opted instead for a wide shot of the carnage: a desert highway littered with rubble. He challenged the Observer: “We would have thought our readers could work out that a lot of people had died in those vehicles. Do you have to show it to them?”
“There were 1,400 [Iraqi soldiers] in that convoy, and every picture transmitted until that one came, two days after the event, was of debris, bits of equipment,” Tony McGrath, the Observer’s pictures editor, was quoted as saying in the same article. “No human involvement in it at all; it could have been a scrapyard. That was some dreadful censorship.”
The media took it upon themselves to “do what the military censorship did not do,” says Robert Pledge, the head of the Contact Press Images photojournalism agency that has represented Jarecke since the 1980s. The night they received the image,
Pledge tells me, editors at the Associated Press’ New York City offices pulled the photo entirely from the wire service, keeping it off the desks of virtually all of America’s newspaper editors. It is unknown precisely how, why, or by whom the AP’s decision was handed down.
Vincent Alabiso, who at the time was the executive photo editor for the AP, later distanced himself from the wire service’s decision. In 2003, he admitted to American Journalism Review that the photograph ought to have gone out on the wire and argued that such a photo would today.
Yet the AP’s reaction was repeated at TIME and LIFE. Both magazines briefly considered the photo, unofficially referred to as “Crispy,” for publication. The photo departments even drew up layout plans. TIME, which had sent Jarecke to the Gulf in the first place, planned for the image to accompany a story about the Highway of Death.
“We fought like crazy to get our editors to let us publish that picture,” former photo director Michele Stephenson tells me. As she recalls, Henry Muller, the managing editor, told her, “TIME is a family magazine.” And the image was, when it came down to it, just too disturbing for the outlet to publish. It was, to her recollection, the only instance during the Gulf War where the photo department fought but failed to get an image into print.
James Gaines, the managing editor of LIFE, took responsibility for the ultimate decision not to run Jarecke’s image in his own magazine’s pages, despite photo director Peter Howe’s push to give it a double-page spread.
“We thought that this was the stuff of nightmares,” Gaines told Ian Buchanan of the British Journal of Photography in March 1991. “We have a fairly substantial number of children who read LIFE magazine,” he added. Even so, the photograph was published later that month in one of LIFE’s special issues devoted to the Gulf War—not typical reading material for the elementary-school set.
Stella Kramer, who worked as a freelance photo editor for LIFE on four special-edition issues on the Gulf War, tells me that the decision to not publish Jarecke’s photo was less about protecting readers than preserving the dominant narrative of the good, clean war. Flipping through 23-year-old issues, Kramer expresses clear distaste at the editorial quality of what she helped to create. The magazines “were very sanitized,” she says.
“So, that’s why these issues are all basically just propaganda.” She points out the picture on the cover of the February 25 issue: a young blond boy dwarfed by the American flag he’s holding. “As far as Americans were concerned,” she remarks, “nobody ever died.”
“If pictures tell stories,” Lee Corkran tells me, “the story should have a point. So if the point is the utter annihilation of people who were in retreat and all the charred bodies … if that’s your point, then that’s true. And so be it. I mean, war is ugly.
It’s hideous.” To Corkran, who was awarded the Bronze Star for his Gulf War combat photography, pictures like Jarecke’s tell important stories about the effects of American and allied airpower. Even Patrick Hermanson, the public affairs officer who originally protested the idea of taking pictures of the scene, now says the media should not have censored the photo.
The U.S. military has now abandoned the pool system it used in 1990 and 1991, and the Internet has changed the way photos reach the public. Even if the AP did refuse to send out a photo, online outlets would certainly run it, and no managing editor would be able to prevent it from being shared across various social platforms, or being the subject of extensive op-ed and blog commentary.
If anything, today’s controversies often center on the vast abundance of disturbing photographs, and the difficulty of putting them in a meaningful context.
Some have argued that showing bloodshed and trauma repeatedly and sensationally can dull emotional understanding. But never showing these images in the first place guarantees that such an understanding will never develop.
“Try to imagine, if only for a moment, what your intellectual, political, and ethical world would be like if you had never seen a photograph,” author Susie Linfield asks in The Cruel Radiance, her book on photography and political violence.
Photos like Jarecke’s not only show that bombs drop on real people; they also make the public feel accountable. As David Carr wrote in The New York Times in 2003, war photography has “an ability not just to offend the viewer, but to implicate him or her as well.”
As an angry 28-year-old Jarecke wrote in American Photo in 1991: “If we’re big enough to fight a war, we should be big enough to look at it.”
facing the horizon of the sea, a series of reflective panels placed along the main wall of the structure not only replicates the tumbling waves, but also transforms the water through its own attributes.
the recomposed mirrors supported by rows of horizontal bars begin to deform as they interact with the natural elements and the senses.
the wind comes to lift and pull the shimmering modules, providing a duality between the visual experience and reflection of the ripples.
this allows occupants to to physically feel and visually observe the environment around them. here, they have the ability to touch the wooden slats that shine warm rays of light into the enclosure as they feel gusts of air swirl around them among the sounds and smells of the shoreline.
the installation therefore provides an immediate and changing experience that creates a colorful mosaic of la grande motte’s picturesque landscape.
• knowledge about the subject at hand, like math, history, or programming
• knowledge about how learning actually works
The bad news: Our education system kinda skips one of them, which is terrifying, given that your ability to learn is such a huge predictor of success in life, from achieving in academics to getting ahead at work. It all requires mastering skill after skill.
“Parents and educators are pretty good at imparting the first kind of knowledge,” shares psych writer Annie Murphy Paul. “We’re comfortable talking about concrete information: names, dates, numbers, facts. But the guidance we offer on the act of learning itself — the ‘metacognitive’ aspects of learning — is more hit-or-miss, and it shows.”
To wit, new education research shows that low-achieving students have “substantial deficits” in their understanding of the cognitive strategies that allow people to learn well. This, Paul says, suggests that part of the reason students perform poorly is that they don’t know a lot about how learning actually works.
So let’s cut through that lore. Here are learning strategies that really work.
Force yourself to recall.
The least-fun part of effective learning is that it’s hard. In fact, the “Make It Stick” authors contend that when learning if difficult, you’re doing your best learning, in the same way that lifting a weight at the limit of your capacity makes you strongest.
It’s simple, though not easy, to take advantage of this: force yourself to recall a fact. Flashcards are a great ally in this, since they force you to supply answers.
Don’t fall for fluency.
When you’re reading something and it feels easy, what you’re experiencing is fluency.
It’ll only get you in trouble.
Example: Say, for instance, you’re at the airport and you’re trying to remember which gate your flight to Chicago is waiting for you at. You look at the terminal monitors — it’s B44. You think to yourself, oh, B44, that’s easy. Then you walk away, idly check your phone, and instantly forget where you’re going.
The alternative: You read the gate number. Then you turn away from the monitor and ask yourself, what’s the gate? If you can recall that it’s B44, you’re good to go.
Connect the new thing to the old things.
“The more you can explain about the way your new learning relates to prior knowledge,” the “Make It Stick” authors write, “the stronger your grasp of the new learning will be, and the more connections you create that will help you remember it later.”
When you’re weaving in new threads into your pre-existing web of knowledge, you’re elaborating.
One killer technique is to come up with real-life examples of principles you’ve just uncovered. If you’ve just learned about slant rhyme, you could read poems that exhibit it. If you’ve just discovered heat transfer, you could think of the way a warm cup of cocoa disperses warmth into your hands on a cold winter’s day.
Reflect, reflect, reflect.
Looking back helps. In a Harvard Business School study, employees who were onboarded to a call center had 22.8% higher performance than the control group when they spent just 15 minutes reflecting on their work at the end of the day.
“When people have the opportunity to reflect, they experience a boost in self-efficacy,” HBS professor Francesca Gino tells us. “They feel more confident that they can achieve things. As a result, they put more effort into what they’re doing and what they learn.”
While reflecting may seem like it leads to working less, it leads to achieving more.