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Approximation: Documentary, history and the staging of reality

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The article explores the idea of ‘approximation’: the layered understanding of historical moments and events via works whose aim is to approximate reality and all its ramifications, rather than more straightforwardly to represent it. It sets out to discuss the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, 11 September 2001, through juxtaposition with representations and re-enactments of their most notable and traumatic antecedent, namely the assassination of President John Kennedy, 22 November 1963. After briefly examining how the two events are brought together in the television series Mad Men, issues of history, representation and art are analyzed in more detail in relation to Abraham Zapruder’s home movie of the assassination, Bruce Conner’s Report (1963–1967) and Ant Farm and T. R. Uthco’s The Eternal Frame (1976).
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Keywords: 9/11; Bruce Conner; JFK in art; Mad Men; T. R. Uthco and Ant Farm; US film and video; re-enactment; representations of history; the Zapruder film

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Warwick

Publication date: 2013-04-01

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  • The Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ) is the first international peer-reviewed scholarly publication devoted to artists' film and video, and its contexts. It offers a forum for debates surrounding all forms of artists' moving image and media artworks: films, video installations, expanded cinema, video performance, experimental documentaries, animations, and other screen-based works made by artists. MIRAJ aims to consolidate artists' moving image as a distinct area of study that bridges a number of disciplines, not limited to, but including art, film, and media.
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