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Distributed for Intellect Ltd

Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan

iProbes and iPhone Photographs

In this timely and highly original merging of theory and practice, conflict photographer and critical theorist Rita Leistner applies Marshall McLuhan’s semiotic theories of language, media, and technology to iPhone photographs taken during a military embed in Afghanistan. In a series of what Leistner calls iProbes—a portmanteau of iPhone and probe—Leistner reveals the face of war through the extensions of man. As digital photography becomes more ubiquitous, and as the phones we carry with us become more advanced, the process of capturing images becomes more democratic and more spontaneous. Leistner’s photos result from both access and impulse. Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan will appeal anyone with an interest in the conflicts in the Middle East, the seminal communications theorist, or iPhone apps and photography.

See a gallery of photographs.

240 pages | 100 color plates | 9 x 9

Art: Photography

Media Studies

Middle Eastern Studies

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Table of Contents


Hipstamatic Blues by Julian Stallabrass

The Process

Smartphones + War in Afghanistan

Marshall McLuhan b. 1911 in Alberta Canada

The embed


Figure + Ground

Reading McLuhan

Musa Qala

The social media

River City

iPhone + the Hipstamatic app

The thingness of things

The iProbes

Prophylactive therapy

The Extensions of Man

Camera obscura

Electric light




McLuhan + Fiore + The Printed Book

The iProbes

iProbe 01_The iphone Camera + the Hipstamatic app

iProbe 02_Phone Texting

iProbe 03_Body Armour

iProbe 04_Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs)

iProbe 05_Figure / Ground

iProbe 06_Improved Explosive Devices (IEDs) Made of Wood

iProbe 07_Fuel Dispensers

iProbe 08_Loudspeakers and Sermons from the Mosque

iProbe 09_Mobile Telephony: “Can You Hear Me Now?”

iProbe 10_The Written Word: “Proceed At Your Own Risk”

iProbe 11_Unmaned Ariel Vehicles (UAVs)

iProbe 12_Sandbags and HESCO Concertina Barriers

The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:00­–11:10)

The Tetrads: Laws of Media





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