Theatrum Mundi: 911
The Hijacking of Terrorism
"Does the WTC attack feel like a movie?
... Well of course it does! It has been specifically written as a movie
script... Having studied for years how Americans react in movie theaters,
the game planners have decided we are now ready for movie spectaculars
in real life. You are witnessing a cathartic and intense psychological
operation. It is designed to alter your perceptions and hence your politics.
It's a classic PsyOp. Its a made-for-TV movie with all the cliché
blockbuster elements. It has mayhem, evil warlords and subtle hints of
a military coup. It has terrorists who wrestle for control of Flight 93
with Die Hard have-a-go Bruce Willis clones."
Wag the WTC - The Blockbuster
9-11-2001 was the ultimate day of reality television.
Like most North Americans, I didn't just watch the World Trade Center
attack on the evening news; I spent the entire day glued to the idiot
box in shock and awe, flipping between CNN and other news channels bringing
live coverage from ground zero. The images were breathtaking, like something
out of a major Hollywood blockbuster, only you didn't have to suspend
your disbelief: this was news.
For the first few hours, the anchorpeople seemed stunned
by the magnitude of the event. There were long pauses as information gradually
came through from government sources: hijackers, terrorists, Arabs, al
Qaida. Practically within hours, public opinion shifted massively from
recently growing criticism of Sharon's Israel, to a fierce anti-Arab patriotism.
Since then, the major English-language news media have
been churning out such concerted propaganda that the internet as a forum
for the exchange of information has become more valuable than ever. I
heard the other day from a friend in NYC that she is afraid to look for
critical information online: the truth is out there, but Americans are
worried they will be electronically monitored.
By now the amount of independent research and information
that points to 9-11 as a charade played out on the stage of big media
news to dramatically influence public opinion is staggering. There are
seismographic recordings which indicate that 2 larger explosions occurred
before the final collapse of the towers.
There are the pools of molten steel observed at sub-basement levels at
Ground Zero which explain the efficient collapse of the towers: the stuctural
beams had been melted at temparatures many times higher than what burning
jet-fuel could produce. The collapse of the towers was in fact typical
of a controlled demolition rather than a chaotic disaster.
There is the question of how precision bombs could possibly
have been planted in buildings with such high-tech security systems, and
there is Dubya's low-profile younger brother Marvin. Marvin
Bush was a principal in Securacom/Stratasec, the company that provided
security for the WTC, Dulles Intl. Airport (from where two of the planes
took off), and United Airlines. There is Professor
Dewdney's research regarding the faked cellphone calls from flight 93.
There is the mystery
of the missing Jetliner and the unbelievably small hole it made in the
Pentagon's outer wall; a hole much more likely to have been caused by
a small bomb or missile. There is the consistent destruction of evidence
including the fact that the Pentagon
lawn was covered over with gravel within hours - to hide the fact that
there was nothing (no plane wreckage) to cover over.
Then there is the interesting aspect of major media collaboration.
The American mass media are owned by a handful of military-industrial
and infotainment corporations, who are no strangers to the oil company
that runs things. What makes 9-11 such a brilliant media art event is
the spectacular power of the images that were beamed around the world
that day, and the profound effect they had on the collective psyche. Anyone
who has seen Johan Grimonperez' DIALhistory video immediately recognizes
the photogenic quality of airplane hijackings, which was brought to a
stunning climax with the WTC attack. What was hijacked that day was terrorism
itself: this is terrorism practiced on our collective imagination by the
American government and the big media.
It can be hard to make the leap out of consensual reality
into the paranoid universe of meaning and artifice that such conspirative
theatre brings. The movement of consciousness required to bring one's
thinking around from the commonly accepted to the spectacular is intense
and disturbing. To understand a media artwork like 9-11 as the massive
piece of theatrical manipulation it is, one needs to accept that the most
important art of our time is happening 'outside the frame' - outside of
art institutions and, better yet, without any label identifying an artwork.
In the theatre of the real, where we live, the most ambitious art of our
time is taking place, and its delicate subject is our perceptions. Whatever
happens next - even if it leads to impeachment and scapegoating - the
show will go on, and most Americans will be watching it on CNN.
To see 9-11 as an isolated event would be to misunderstand
both the nature of the current information war and the process by which
art develops. For every outstanding work of art there are dozens or hundreds
of precedents, ranging from the well-known (e.g. the 1933 Reichstag fire)
to the unnoticed. At certain points the available know-how is pushed to
new limits to serve a particular intention.
The intention in this case was articulated by a Washington think tank
a year before, calling for "a catastrophic and catalyzing event... like
a new Pearl Harbor". The World Trade Center - an icon of globalization
and American prosperity, had stood like two fingers to the rest of the
world. It was the perfect target - could a Hollywood villain have been
so fiendish as to forever alter the geography of Manhattan, leaving a
permanent scar, a grain of sand in the oyster?
The composer Karlheinz
Stockhausen was the first to call 9-11 an artwork just days after the
event, although in the ensuing public outrage he quickly attempted
to retract his comments. Widespread recognition of 9-11 as a media art
masterpiece is yet to come, and would run counter to the passivity engendered
by the infotainment media. On the internet there is of course a lively
exchange of information, and all one needs to do to begin tapping it is
type a few words into a search engine. However compared with the massively
effective dissemination of propaganda as top-priority news, all the information
available on the web is just a drop in the bucket.
Author's note: Some of the hyperlinks have gone dead since this curatorial piece was first published July 4th 2003.