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Osama bin Laden

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Note: The sequence of images in this feature was updated Jan. 8, 2013. 

American Special forces, guns trained and at the ready, stand outside a fortified compound on foreign soil. Cast in midnight shadow, the well-armed and night-vision-equipped troops communicate with hand motions and brief radio exchanges.

What follows is a stunningly efficient raid — carefully choreographed — with the requisite shouted commands, sporadic gunfire, and the low-hummed whirr of helicopter blades. Through it all, photographer Jonathan Olley was there.

But these bullets and bombs were mere props. The soldiers: actors instead. The drama: cinematic climate written and directed by the movie industry’s best. But in the world of Hollywood, Jonathan Olley’s photographs are almost too real.

Many Americans have likely seen Olley’s work, even if they don’t know the photographer by name. With his images plastered on the sides of bus stop vestibules or subway station walls, on billboards, print advertisements and even the cover of Newsweek, Jonathon Olley is the stills photographer for this year’s Oscar-hopeful Zero Dark Thirty.

The film, from Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, traces the hunt for Osama bin Laden through the career of one female American intelligence officer, played by Jessica Chastain. While the film has received criticism —from politicians and the military, not to mention historians who challenge the film portrayal of events— the virulence of the critiques may fairly reflect how realistic the movie is presented.

“What we were attempting is almost a journalistic approach to film,” Bigelow told the The New Yorker in an interview about the movie last December. Who better to photograph a movie about a war, than a photojournalist who had seen one up close.

As a 27-year-old photographer, Jonathan Olley traveled to Sarajavo, a city under siege as Yugoslavia slowly broke apart. Packed and ready to leave on February 5, 1994, Olley was footsteps from the city’s main market when a violent explosion rocked his career forever.

Jonathan Olley

Jonathan Olley

Markale market masacre during the Siege of Sarajevo, which killed 68 and wounded 200. 1994.

The mortar, responsible for the deaths of 68 people and the wounding of 200, left a near-dazed Olley reeling amidst the chaos of the scene.

“I made some photographs of the place in a haphazard and panicky way” he remembers. “At that point, I got grabbed by some men and had a gun put in my mouth.”

Jonathan Olley

Jonathan Olley

British Army's 19th Field Ambulance high on the mountain plain of Bosnia-Herzegovina protect a wounded soldier from the downwash of a Royal Navy Sea King. Sipovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Former Yugoslavia. 1996.

For Olley, those moments served as “catalyst” in his professional career, illustrating how photographers could become part of the stories they covered, and could even create conflict while trying only to bear witness.

“That day made me think about what my position in all of this was,” he said. “In the end, the risks” — by this he means for himself and the people he photographed— “were not worth the news agenda of the day.”

More than a decade after that fateful event, Olley was introduced to Hollywood director Paul Greengrass, who hired him as photographer for the film Green Zone, a movie about the fruitless search for nuclear weapons in a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

Jonathan Olley

Jonathan Olley

Iraqi tank destroyed by depleted-Uranium tipped weapon. Al-Amarah, Maysan, Iraq. 2004.

Today, with three films under his belt, Olley says his commercial photography work on Green Zone, The Hurt Locker and now Zero Dark Thirty, requires the same skill and attention to detail as covering any war.

“You don’t really get a lot of access and you have to find your position in the maelstrom of activity.” Olley told TIME in an interview from his home in London. “Like conflict photography, shooting film stills is about being in a place where no one really wants you to be and making it work.”

Because still photographers are “non-essential” for the production process, he said — the photographs are used primarily to promote the movie when complete — the stills photographer is often the first victim of ornery directors, aggressive producers, or mercurial actors. If filming is going poorly, or the timing just isn’t right, photographers can be asked — politely or otherwise — to leave.

Jonathan Olley

Jonathan Olley

Zimbabwean de-miners in full protective clothing in Al-Zubai-Dat, Iran on the Iraqi border.

“Some actors are a little bit like racehorses: great to watch, but tough to deal with,” he jokes. In spite of the tensions, though, Olley is quick to add that many of Hollywood’s best actors — from Matt Damon to Jennifer Chastain — understand the importance of a film’s still photography and that working with these professionals at their best is “a privilege.”

Yet, as journalistic as his commercial images might look, and as close to reality as some Hollywood films have become, Olley views his film work as a means to other personal and professional ends.

“To me it’s like any other job,” said Olley, whose latest project, large format photography looking at the legacy of empire in Ireland, has received interest from the Tate Modern museum in London.

Despite the challenges of photographing the silver screen, Olley’s film experiences have been his most professionally forgiving, he said.

With scenes getting multiple takes — professional “second chances”— he has more opportunities to capture the valuable, powerful moments. However, for Olley — so nearly killed while covering conflict — there is comfort in the security of a Hollywood set.

Jonathan Olley

Jonathan Olley

Victim of shell splinters from a Serbian mortar-round. Jewish Community Centre, Central Sarajevo. 1994.

“At least in this business, you don’t die when you get it wrong,” he said.

Jonathan Olley is a photographer based in London.

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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

Massimo Berruti

Pakistan: Fade Into Dust

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Pakistan is considered to have had a key role in the start of the war on terrorism, as probably it will have a main role in the history of its end.

Pakistan is “the country” on the front line of the War on Terror, the most directly involved and afflicted, with the military operation launched in Swat Valley in may 2009 and the subsequent one in South Waziristan, which together have caused 4 million of evacuees. But the involvement shown so far is not yet sufficient for the U.S. Administrations.

After the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s killing by the hands of a US operative commando on Pakistani soil, the relations between the two countries seem doomed to crash.

More than during the past Musharaff regime, Pakistani developement is connected and subordinate to the international policy. Its economy is fully financed by the US and the IMF, even though Pakistan is a country that by the richness of its soil could be mostly independent.

The fast and constant rise of taxes is at the root of the impoverishment of its society.

Meanwhile, wealth more and more concentrated in the hands of a few, is creating available ground for ignorance and extremism to grow, fertilized by the rising rage of the poor against their governors.

If on one hand Pakistanis, through examples like the lawyer movement, are showing their awareness and their will to contribute to a better society, fighting for their rights, on the other hand the same people has fallen under a heavy physical and psycological pressure of terrorism and recession.

The purpose of this project is to look through the changing society of Pakistan and the upward spiral of violence this country has fallen into since September 2001. A spyral that is driven by something invisible, its first target being the people. Something that risks to invest us all.

 

Bio

Massimo Berruti was born in 1979 in Rome, Italy, where he actually lives.

In 2003, after a short course of photography, he stopped his studies in biology to go deeper in photography. Freelance photographer, from 2004 he started to work in Eastern Europe, and mostly in Italy. Here he worked on immigration, suburbs and the industry crisis: parts of his work was published in a book called “Made in Italy”.

His professional career began when working with the most important Italian and European magazines such as l’Espresso, Internazionale, D la Repubblica delle Donne, Le Monde2 and The Independent.

In 2008 he began traveling to Central Asia, particularly to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he is documenting the changing society. He won two World Press Photo: in 2007 (Second Prize Reportage in “Contemporary issue”) and in 2011 (Second Prize Stories in “General news”).

 

Related links

Massimo Berruti

 

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The ad campaign for Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty, which chronicles the mission that led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden by a Navy SEAL team, has been pretty low-key so far. But then, the studio hasn’t had to do much, as there has been a fair amount of publicity for the movie thanks to accusations that the original October release date was meant to remind audiences of President Obama’s role in the mission, just before the Presidential election takes place. There have been far more serious (but unproven) allegations that the film is based on access to classified data that was given illegally to the production.

Now it’s time to move beyond those talking points to look at the actual film. Derspite featuring Joel EdgertonJessica ChastainChris PrattKyle ChandlerMark Strong, and Jason Clarke, the teaser trailer showed few faces, and relied upon audio montage to set up the story of the hunt for Bin Laden. A few images later gave us a bit more. Now you can see a lot more of Bigelow’s follow-up to The Hurt Locker, in the full trailer below.

There’s some good stuff in there: Jason Clarke’s intro, the shot of James Gandolfini, and Kyle Chandler looking like he plays a companion role to his presence in Argo. I wonder about putting Chastain’s character front and center, and how she’ll work as the backbone to the entire story. This looks like the same sort of reality/fiction blend that worked very well in The Hurt Locker, and with that in mind, how much will the degree to which this might inevitably deviate from reality matter in the long run?

Apple has the trailer. Zero Dark Thirty‘s opens on December 19.

For a decade, an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, working in secret across the globe, devoted themselves to a single goal: to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty reunites the Oscar(R) winning team of director-producer Kathryn Bigelow and writer-producer Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) for the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.

 

 

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People walk on the OCBC Skyway linking the Supertrees in the nearly completed Gardens By The Bay just next to Singapore’s busy financial district on Monday April 30, 2012 in Singapore. This is part of the city-state’s efforts to bring and nurture greenery within the city and capture the essence of Singapore as a tropical [...]

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Beach-Bomber

Cover-3
Françoise Mouly is one of my heroes. She and her husband Art Spiegelman published RAW, an astounding large-format comic book that was a big inspiration to me when I started bOING bOING as a print zine in 1988. (I'm still waiting for a full-size hardback that reprints the first 8 issues of RAW, Volume 1). For the last 20 years, Françoise has been the art editor of The New Yorker.

Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant To See is her new book. It's a collection of New Yorker covers that were either rejected, caused an outrage, or have an interesting story behind them.

Of the cover above, Françoise says, "In 1993, we published this cover by David Mazzuccelli as the trial of the four men suspected of the bombing of the World Trade Center got underway. There were bomb threats to the magazine, and the image was vehemently denounced -- at the time, most in the media were weary of labeling the men involved as Arab or Muslim terrorists."

Below, 11 more covers and cover concepts for The New Yorker, with commentary by Françoise Mouly.

Chris-Ware

We asked Chris Ware, who drew this week’s cover, “Mother’s Day,” to discuss the New Yorker covers that inspired him. He wrote a charming ode to the women artists of The New Yorker, where he confessed to having “a soft spot for Gretchen Dow Simpson’s blank observations of beaches, grass, and whitewashed homes -- the peopleless screen doors, walls, shingled roofs, and beach pebbles of the nineteen-seventies and eighties.”

Art-Tattoo

Each cartoonist I work with has his own approach and understanding of what makes a good
New Yorker cover. In 1993, Tina Brown, who was only the 4th editor since 1925, turned to
cartoonists like Art Spiegelman to revitalize the magazine. This was Art’s published Mother’s
Day cover at a time when tattoos were becoming widespread.

Art-Pregnant-1

A few years later, Spiegelman offered this other sketch for a Mother’s Day image—it didn’t
get approved.

Wardrobe-Malfunction

Sometimes it looks like an artist is poking fun at the more sedate New Yorker covers. This was proposed by M. Scott Miller, years before Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction. He claims that the inspiration for this jeté is an experience familiar to anyone who follows classical ballet.

Marilyn-2

Marilyn-1Cartoonists use clichés, but a good image will use clichés and well-known images to say something new. Harry Bliss make us realize that, sadly, time passes (left). When female bombers made their appearance in the news, in 2002, Danny Shanahan used the same trope to make an entirely different point (above).

Monica-L

“I have an idea for a back‐to‐school issue,” said Anita Kunz back in 1998, “It’s Monica Lewinsky sucking a 'Presidential' lollipop... It could be drawn in crayon, very child‐like. Please let me know if you can use it.” Once the artist has a good idea, she can strengthen her point with the style she uses to render it.





Clintons-Last-Request

At the height of the Lewinsky affair, Art Spiegelman proposed this sketch titled ‘Clinton’s Last Request.’ “When a word like ‘blow job’, which you never dreamt of finding in the paper is on the front page every day,” he explains, “I had to find a way for my image to be as explicit without being downright salacious.”

I-Have-A-Nightmare

In a sketch that Art Spiegelman proposed during George W. Bush’s first term, King’s dream becomes a nightmare as black leaders like Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice provide cover for George W. Bush.

Mentos

In the fall of 2005, videos began making the rounds showing what happens when pieces of Mentos candy are dropped into bottles of Diet Coke. Barry Blitt first tried his idea with two children or two businessmen before finding the right and frightfully funny combination—two Arab men. All versions make fun of terrorism, but only that one makes fun of our own fears.

Freedom-Tower

As of this week, the Freedom Tower has now become the tallest building in New York City -- and the third tallest in the world. Speaking of my own personal fears, we’ll be moving into that tower in 2014. Back in 2002, when models of the projects for the World Trade Center site were put on display, Blitt sketched Osama bin Laden and his second-in-command reviewing the proposed designs.

Cover-2

When this image by Barry Blitt came in, David Remnick, the editor who makes all the final decisions was o on a trip, but he asked me to show it around. My colleagues, all word people, laughed heartily yet they concluded it didn’t ‘work’ because neither the Pope nor the scandals plaguing the Catholic Church had anything to do with Marylin Monroe. “Oy vey!” said the artist, Barry Blitt, and we moved on.

Buy Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant To See on Amazon

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Globe (SHUTTERSTOCK)

Dataminr is an analytics company that draws trends from social networks for various business clients, and today it revealed a partnership with Twitter that grants it access to over 340 million tweets a day — data points that will be used to create what the company calls "one of the earliest warning systems for breaking news and emerging events." The company claimed last year that the technology had relayed news of Osama Bin Laden's death to its clients before the story had been reported by major media outlets. The use of Twitter for breaking news in recent years has grown both for firsthand users of the service and even for general audiences through broadcast outlets like CNN — and Dataminr joins other companies already using big...

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Nikki Durkin

The Bay Area tech scene is all about startups. But which ones are worth your attention?

We looked at the startups trending on AngelList, asked entrepreneurs in the valley what all their friends are talking about, and ran down the most buzzed-about companies from recent demo days and conferences to put together this list of companies you should be paying attention to.

Karma is a social mobile gifting service.

Startup: Karma

Date Founded: June 2011

Founder: Lee Linden and Ben Lewis

Concept: Give your friends gifts via your iOS and Android devices

Location: San Francisco, CA

Funding: Under $5 million.

Why You Should Care: Karma lets you send gifts to your friends and family right from your phone without needing to know their mailing address.  

It has already partnered with the likes of Domaine Chandon, Kate Spade, and Magnolia Cupcakes.

99Dresses lets women use virtual currency to trade clothing and accessories.

Startup: 99Dresses

Date Founded: 2010

Founder: Nikki Durkin

Concept: An infinite wardrobe for women. It lets women trade clothing online.

Location: Mountain View, CA during Y Combinator program.

Funding: Unknown. This Y Combinator company just launched this week.

Why You Should Care: It did a test run in Australia: 4,500 dresses were uploaded and 3,500 of them were sold. It has already gotten the praises of tech gatekeepers Ben Parr and Robert Scoble.

Getaround lets you rent cars near you.

Startup: Getaround

Date Founded: 2009

Founder: Jessica Scorpio, Elliot Kroo, and Sam Zaid.

Concept: Rent cars when their owners aren't using them.

Location: San Francisco, CA

Funding: Raised $5.13 million from Redpoint Ventures, Crunchfund, and others.

Why You Should Care: They've expanded to three cities, but they have many more to go. They have just gotten started.

It's part of the sharing economy, which puts value on accessing a car, rather than owning it. If it takes off, it could take millions of cars off the road. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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