September 11, 2001: The Photoshop Brigade Responds to the Attack on America


Almost immediately after the 9/11 assault on New York and Washington, Americans started to make their feelings known through visual art circulated on the Web. What I found fascinating about this was that, unlike most art in our culture, this was totally unmediated and (apparently) unprofessional-- nobody seems to be making a buck off it, it's just there to express the artist's feelings. Much of it is circulating anonymously.

A lot of it expresses themes of black humor. Here's one of the first I got:

Almost the first theme to express itself was rebuilding:

That upraised finger motif found a few other expressions--

This was not the only use of Lady Liberty--

That last one came from a series about America under the Taliban-- here are two others from that group--

And the new, improved New York Skyline--

As for Osama bin Laden himself, I haven't seen him as often as I'd have expected. Here are a few--:

Far more visible in internet art than Osama bin Laden was the unnamed but spectacularly unlucky figure who's come to be known as Tourist Guy:

A lot of intelligent people seem to have initially taken this picture seriously (if you're one of them, go here to find out why the picture's a fake). But, in reaction to this original shot, many parodies soon began to appear. I assume that they're all the work of the same guy, presumably someone with Photoshop skills and too much time on his hands. Here are a few:

Oh, what the hell. Here are a few more:

And, finally, just for a change of pace--

Another face that we saw a lot of was that of Satan. No doubt you heard about the photos that allegedly show the face of a laughing Lucifer in the smoke and flames of the World Trade Center--

Personally, I only find this one convincing--

Surprisingly, there doesn't seem to have been much anti-Arab or anti-Muslim art-- instead, the Photoshop Brigade seems to be focusing on the people caught in the act of demonstrating that they don't wish us well-- although with varying degrees of effectiveness:

Sometimes, though, unintentional Photoshop humor outdoes the real thing. Here's an actual pro-bin Laden poster produced in Pakistan. Which of these things is not like the others?

As we drew closer to beginning our attack on the Taliban forces, things got more focused:

I'll warn you now, this next one is not for the squeamish--






As a matter of fact, a woman I work with just came in and saw it and from her reaction, I decided to put it on a page by itself.

Here's a really clever black-comedy use of found art:

 I'll continue to add to these. If you come across any that you haven't seen here, please send them to me.