Political and news media imagery saturate the culture of our classrooms as thoroughly as the popular culture imagery that deliberately targets children and youth. Media images such as those of US president G. W. Bush's visit to Canada that we discuss in this paper have become ubiquitous in our culture. In our view they constitute a primary mechanism through which the powerful political and economic forces exert an unrelenting threat on populations around the world. We (1 + 1 + 1)* enter this discussion from the point of view of Canadians, one of whom holds duel Canadian / US citizenship, all of whom have extensive backgrounds in the practice of our respective art forms and a broad range of academic study in the arts and media. We are well aware that mass-mediated images are not innocent happenstance. Our research revealed the degree to which every detail of the president's media images had been envisioned, designed, and executed. To understand the images and how they contribute to the pervasive sense of insecurity within current social, political and economic realities, we are obliged to speak first to our reactions; we acknowledge and attempt to accurately foreground our own emotional and intellectual groundings. As we scrutinize the images and attend to their formal composition and content, we also articulate the qualities of these contemporary media images that we observe to be analogous to the composition and aesthetics of ancient religious icons. Simultaneously we recognize contemporary versions of historical, secular practices of recasting icons to accommodate the designs of Byzantine emperors and contemporary despots.


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