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Muammar Gaddafi

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Following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime last year, photographer Jehad Nga set out to explore the former dictator’s political and military philosophies within the framework of an underlying and contrasting Libyan culture. Here, Nga he writes for LightBox about his project, The Green Book, which depicts the conflicting values of reality through gathered images broken down into binary code.

The Green Book, first published in 1975, is a short tome setting out the political philosophy of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Intended to be required reading for all Libyans, the 24 chapters were constructed simply, containing broad and basic slogans rendered in a rudimentary writing style easy to understand by all. Gaddafi claimed to have developed the book’s theories in order to resolve many contradictions inherent in capitalism and communism thereby—by his logic, freeing its citizens from bondage of both systems. The book, however, proved for most to be nothing more than an inane manifesto used to further reduce the value of a population’s role in the building of a society.

During the revolution that finally brought Gaddafi’s reign to an end last October, it was common for the intelligence arm of the government, in its heightened state of awareness, to target people attempting to traffic information out of the country.

Employing the similar technological principles, I used a satellite adjusted to intersect varying levels of Internet traffic flow transmitted over Libya. An assigned command allowed for the satellite to look only for photographs and disregard all other associated data traffic.

Without any distinguishable narratives, the constant stream of communication I captured visually grew over time to resemble a hyper-realized paradise, where the borders between the natural and supernatural had been washed away. From the ebb and flow of images being sent between people—the population’s naked, unedited psyche rendered visual—I harvested 24 representative images.

Once the images were captured, I wanted to further explore the meaning of my action. I first reduced each image to its most basic structure, binary code, which singled it out from the other billion bits of data shooting through the sky. This conversion exposed each image’s digital “cell structure”—millions of algorithms mathematically, miraculously unified to produce something of beauty. Code is built in layers, each with a metaphor constructed by its programmer to enact and describe its behavior. Reducing an image to pure binary data strips it of any individual identity, any protection, and any premise.

I was able to exploit this frailty—the structural weakness of each image—by introducing new information into its binary data. Each chapter of The Green Book was introduced into the code structure of each photo, threatening to break the image file past the threshold of recognition. Sometimes the new data caused the complete collapse of the image structure. When my experiment was successful, the text at once contaminated the image and created something new.

The final product is a depiction of how something with “genetic predisposition,” something rigid and fixed, struggles to coexist with additional textual information. The conflicting “values” are evident in the distorted and augmented reality presented by the photographs.

Taken as a whole, The Green Book Study, a collection of 24 images that carries with it Gaddafi’s three-volume manifesto in its entirety, becomes an method for evaluating the process of which a society’s human structure becomes distorted and at time fully collapsed by a command line of one totalitarian vision.

Jehad Nga is a New York-based photographer. LightBox has previously featured Nga’s work about his Libyan roots as well as a photo essay on the world’s biggest refugee complex.

The project will be showing at the Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York and the M+B Gallery in Los Angeles.

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The photographer André Liohn, who got an early start on covering the civil war in Libya and stayed in the country through the killing of Muammar Gaddafi, was recently asked not to use that term—civil war—to describe the conflict. Liohn had returned to Libya to introduce a project that he started with seven other photographers who covered the war-torn African nation last year. They call the project Almost Dawn in Libya, and through it they plan to exhibit their photographs of the war in the Libyan cities of Tripoli, Misurata, Benghazi and Zintan. But as Liohn was telling a young lawyer who had been active in promoting the revolution on the internet about their work, the photographer was confronted about his choice of words.

He responded that what he had seen seemed to fit his own conception of a civil war, but she told him that, to her, the conflict didn’t fit that category. “That you can come to us and challenge this concept that we have of it—that’s exactly what the project is for,” Liohn says.

The photographers behind Almost Dawn in Libya—also known as ADIL, an acronym that sounds like the Arabic word for justice—aim to use their work to help Libyans come to grips with what happened there in the past year, to turn galleries into spaces for public debate. They are not the first to think about what would happen if those who might appear in war photography got to see those pictures. Susan Sontag described in On Photography the way that a photographer can seize control of a narrative and Susan Meiselas’ In History examined the ethics of conflict photography in Central America in the 1970s and ‘80s. But, says Liohn, there’s a new factor in play these days.

“The Libyan revolution or the Arab spring, it’s probably the first time where victims of a violence were able to document their own suffering. Mobile phones, videos, graphic design have been extremely important to unify people. They did it through images,” he says. “But today the images that they created have lost the context of the violence.” Liohn says that, without that context, the images that were once a rallying cry have become a source of fragmentation: each city has its own images of how brave its people were or how much they suffered. By showing the same exhibit of 100 pictures, not sorted geographically or chronologically, in four different places at the exact same time, the ADIL team hopes that Libyans will be able to start a dialogue that is not divided by city.

And Liohn says that, through ADIL, the photographers involved will cede their control of the images. “We are not showing it to a public that never saw Libya,” he says. “We are actually exposing ourselves to the public.” Part of the project involves bringing the photographers back to speak to that public and hold workshops, though, so Liohn says that hearing dissent about the way Libya is portrayed is part of the point. The larger point, however, is that the people who see the exhibits may then be inspired to discuss the country’s direction.

“The people there are waking up from this kind of dream-nightmare situation,” says Liohn, “and no one actually knows how the day is going to be.”

Learn more about Almost Dawn in Libya—and the photographers involved (André Liohn, Lynsey Addario, Eric Bouvet, Bryan Denton, Christopher Morris, Jehad Nga, Finbarr O’Reilly and Paolo Pellegrin) at their emphas.is fundraising page here

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Spontaneous snapshots. Intimate moments. Unexpected exposures. There was no one formula for this year’s most viral photographs. Most were based on news events, such as the death of longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi—but these photos ended up becoming the news themselves. They shocked us. They awed us. They inspired us to feel. But the most powerful feeling was the impulse to share.

The best viral images of 2011 are those we found flooding our email inboxes and Twitter feeds this year. One thing weaves the images together: each photographer netted a once-in-a-lifetime picture. From Royal Wedding mania and a bloodied despot to an utterly unexpected leopard on the loose, photographers both professional and amateur brought us the scenes of unpredictability and chaos that gripped our world over the past 12 months. As shocking as the subject matter is the simplicity of some images. A few came from mobile phones. Most were snapped without a thought of—or time to handle—composition or lighting. One was even taken by a man who would be dead minutes later.

Given that the Internet is a notoriously fickle beast, it’s impossible to predict which photos will score a hit. Here, LightBox looks back on the photos we couldn’t help but share. —Nick Carbone

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The best photos of 2011 from around the globe. Warning: All images in this entry are shown in full, not screened out for graphic content. Some images contain dead bodies, graphic content and tragic events. We consider these images an important part of human history.

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The year 2011 brought us dramatic and unexpected images from some of the world’s major news events, including the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, the violent end of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s rule and the humiliating tweet that ruined New York Representative Anthony Weiner’s career. But beyond the widely seen and iconic images that accompanied the year’s biggest events, like the death of Osama bin Laden and the shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, were unusual, equally astonishing and startling images that rested at the periphery of the news. A cat with two faces, rail tracks buckled by the shifting earth after a quake in New Zealand, the police rescue of a girl held hostage by her father, a suicidal bride and beautiful, abstract images taken from space by an astronaut photographer — these are just a few of the compelling and surprising images to have emerged beyond the main news cycle this year. Here, LightBox looks back at a small selection of the underreported, improbable and astounding images that caught the attention of TIME’s photo editors.

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WARNING: SOME IMAGES CONTAIN GRAPHIC CONTENT OR NUDITY
From the uprisings across the Arab world to the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, there was no lack of news in 2011. Reuters photographers covered the breaking news events as well as captured more intimate, personal stories. In this showcase, the photographers offer a behind the scenes account of the images that helped define the year.

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The month of October has been a dramatic month of deaths, from Steve Jobs of Apple succumbing to cancer to the demise of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, as well as the dramatic racetrack death of Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon.   But toward the end of the month, life was celebrated with the birth of the seven billionth person on Earth.  Also in the news was the continued and now global growth of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Palestinian prisoner releases for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and a devastating earthquake in Turkey. WARNING: Graphic content.

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Britain’s Jessica Ennis makes an attempt in the Heptathlon Long Jump at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011.

Hurricane Irene moved along the east coast causing heavy flooding damage as far north as Vermont and shutting down the entire New York mass transit system. One of two people rescued from a sailboat, right, uses a line to make their way onto the beach on Willoughby Spit in Norfolk, Va., Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011, after they and another person were rescued from the boat that foundered in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. A rescuer, left, waits for s second person to exit the boat.

A Libyan rebel fighter holds ammunition from one of Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s munitions dumps hidden behind a row of residential houses on August 28, 2011 in Tripoli, Libya. Heavy fighting continues in the Libyan city of Sirte between Gaddafi’s forces and the surging rebel presence.

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Britain's Jessica Ennis makes an attempt in the Heptathlon Long Jump at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #

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One of two people rescued from a sailboat, right, uses a line to make their way onto the beach on Willoughby Spit in Norfolk, Va., Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011, after they and another person were rescued from the boat that foundered in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. A rescuer, left, waits for s second person to exit the boat. (AP Photo/TheVirginian-Pilot, Bill Tiernan) #

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People shield themselves from blowing sand and rain as they look over the beach during Hurricane Irene August 27, 2011 in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Hurricane Irene hit Dare County, which sits along the Outer Banks and includes the vacation towns of Nags Head, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills, as a category one hurricane around mid-day today. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

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A Libyan rebel fighter holds ammunition from one of Col. Muammar Gaddafi's munitions dumps hidden behind a row of residential houses on August 28, 2011 in Tripoli, Libya. Heavy fighting continues in the Libyan city of Sirte between Gaddafi's forces and the surging rebel presence. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

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Billy Stinson (C), his wife Sandra Stinson and daughter Erin Stinson (R) comfort each other as they sit on the steps where their cottage once stood before it was destroyed by Hurricane Irene August 28, 2011 in Nags Head, North Carolina. The cottage, built in 1903 and destroyed yesterday by Hurricane Irene, was one of the first vacation cottages built on Albemarle Sound in Nags Head. Stinson has owned the home, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, since 1963. "We were pretending, just for a moment, that the cottage was still behind us and we were just sitting there watching the sunset," said Erin afterward. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

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Traveller boy Pa Button (L) holds a puppy in a mobile home at Dale Farm on August 30, 2011 in Basildon, England. Dale Farm is the largest Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller site in the United Kingdom. Part of the site is due for demolition after the local authorities deemed that it was built without planning permission. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #

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Tom Chase waves atop of his friend's beach home in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, in East Haven, Conn., Monday, Aug. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) #

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Portuguese fishermen, seen in silhouette, pull their net out of the sea onto the beach Monday, Aug. 29, 2011 in Caparica coast, near Lisbon. Along side the coast, fishermen use the common technique of trawling near the shore and pulling the nets out of the sea onto the beach by using an agricultural tractor. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco) #

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Telephone workmen attempt to find the telephone line along the storm battered road on Hwy 12 in Rodanthe, N.C. Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011. Landline phone service and power had been restored to Hatteras Village, Frisco, Buxton and Avon but north towards Pea Island damage was severe and residents were still disconnected Tuesday. ( AP Photo/The News & Observer, Chuck Liddy) #

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Meghan Morrow sweeps mud and debris from what is left of the Windham Spa, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011 in Windham, N.Y. Officials say more than a dozen towns in Vermont and at least three in New York are cut off, with roads and bridges washed out by flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Irene. In New York, the towns of Keene in the Adirondacks, and Windham and Phoenicia in the Catskills are effectively isolated by damage to roads and bridges. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) #

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In this Wednesday Aug. 31, 2011 photo, spectators flee as waves created by a tidal bore crash over a barrier on the Qiantang river at Haining, in east China's Zhejiang province. About 20 people were injured when they were caught too close to the river while viewing the annual tidal bore, which occurs when sea water from an unusually high tide funnels into the river, creating high waves. (AP Photo) #

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South Korea's Kim Deok-hyeon competes in the qualification for the Men's Triple Jump at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Friday, Sept. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) #

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Libyans celebrate with their new flag at Martyrs Square in Tripoli on September 1, 2011. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG #

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Afghan refugee boys play on a homemade swing as they celebrate the second day of Eid al-Fitr festival which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011. Eid, one of the most important holidays in the Muslim world, is marked with prayers, family reunions and other festivities. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

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Louisiana National Guard helicopters dump water on a burning marsh fire in Eastern New Orleans, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) #

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Fireworks are seen in the sky over St. Basil Cathedral, left, and Spasskaya tower,right, at the International Military Music Festival Spasskaya Tower at the Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. Festival was opening on Wednesday in Moscow for five days. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel) #

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Iranian women perform their Eid al-Fitr prayer, at the Imam Sq. in the city of Isfahan some 234 mile (390 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday Aug. 31, 2011. Eid al-Fitr is the Islamic holiday that comes at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) #

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In this photo taken Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, North Korean children perform at a theater in Rason, North Korea. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) #

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A reveler throws tomato pulp during the annual "Tomatina" tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol, near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. Bunol's town hall estimated more than 40,000 people, some from as far away as Japan and Australia, took up arms Wednesday and pelted each other with 120 tons of ripe tomatoes in the yearly food fight known as the 'Tomatina' now in its 66th year. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz) #

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A Pakistani Muslim buys a balloon for his child as he leaves after offering prayers of Eid al Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. Eid, one of the most important holidays in the Muslim world, is marked with prayers, family reunions and other festivities. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan) #

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In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011, a man stands on the bow of the North Korean leisure boat the "Mangyongbong" during its trial cruise to Mount Kumgang resort from the port of Rason, North Korea. Since South Korean tourists have been barred from the luxury resort, known abroad as Diamond Mountain, North Korea has begun courting Chinese and other international tourists. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) #

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An Indian Muslim man offers Eid al-Fitr prayers at the Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi on August 31, 2011. Muslims around the world celebrated Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of the month of Ramadan, after the sighting of the new crescent moon. (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images) #

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A woman with fingers painted in the colours of the Libyan flag celebrates in Martyrs Square (formerly Green Square under Kadhafi) in Tripoli on August 30, 2011. Thousands of Libyans gathered in the square to celebrate the success of rebel fighters against Colonel Gaddafi's forces and the beginning of the Muslim festival Eid. AFP PHOTO / Carl de Souza #

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An Indian villager throws a fishing net into the River Brahmaputra at Suwalkuchi, west of Gauhati, India, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/ Anupam Nath) #

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Habiba Osman Ahmed,seated with her two children in a makeshift shelter in Dollow refugee camp in southern Somalia, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011. She was a former farmer, but since Somalia's 20-year civil war pushed the drought into famine, everything has changed. Now she doesn't even have a pot to cook in, and must share with another family. She will wait patiently while they finish their food before preparing her own. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi) #

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An Indian Muslim woman poses showing her hands decorated with mehendi (henna) during 'Chand Raat' or 'Night of the Moon' in Hyderabad on August 30, 2011, traditionally held on the eve of the festival of Eid al-Fitr. Muslims all over the world began Eid-al-Fitr celebrations at the sighting of the crescent moon, marking the end of Muslim's holy fasting month of Ramadan. AFP PHOTO / Noah SEELAM #

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Camels stand on the motorway between Misrata and Sirte, on August 30, 2011. Libyan rebles were advancing towards Syrte, fallen leader Moamer Kadhafi's hometown and the last bastion of loyalists. AFP PHOTO / Filippo MONTEFORTE #

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Indian Muslims pray outside the Jama mosque during the holy month of Ramadan in New Delhi, India, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011. Muslims are preparing to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan.(AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) #

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Seen from overhead, a Pakistani youth reads verses of the Quran while attending a religious class during the holy fasting month of Ramadan in a Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

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An Afghan girl begs for alms outside a mosque in the city of Jalalabad the provincial capital of Nangarhar province east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #

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