Jon Kessler

THE WAR ON TERRORISM is a war fought with information. As a May 13 New York Times article on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal declared: “Defenders of the operation said the methods . . . were necessary to fight a war against a nebulous enemy whose strength and intentions could only be gleaned by extracting information from often uncooperative detainees.” The infelicitous phrase “extracting information from often uncooperative detainees” conjures a world of ruthless coercion and calls into question recent use of the term information by art historians and critics. In the domain of art, information is typically associated with dematerialization—it denotes the triumph of language and photo-documentation over the fleshier materials of painting and sculpture. But here, in the New York Times, and in the context of politics, such a position is persuasively rebutted: Information is acknowledged as

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