I like many people outside the continental USA (where cable companies refuse to carry it) have been watching the live transmission of Al Jazzera covering the uprising in Egypt. It has been an amazing few weeks in this most strategic and pivotal of Arab lands. What I have found interesting, following from the online coverage of the uprisings in Tunisia, Iran last summer, and the Israeli invasion of Gaza over New Year 2008-2009, is that the coverage of the Egyptian uprising has reached another level, literally. The viewers of Al Jazeera witness the demonstrations in central Cairo from above, in an omniscient God-view. Cameras positioned about the city lift the view above the mass scenes and provide an almost diagrammatical image of the city and what is happening in it. The scene takes on the perspective of a map, with live actors inhabiting it in real time.
Scenes taken from different locations are aligned in time and space in a single full screen image
The view can see both sides of the sitation as it stands on the ground, the military and the 'protesters' (actually a number of groups, from socialists to religious)
Commentators are also in the sky, looking down on the mass with us and providing explanations of events and a guide to the topography of what we are all looking at.
Scenes are broken down into their components, with camera moving from ground level to the frame of buildings. In these two images the commentator talks us through first the identity of the building we are looking at, the State Television Building;
And then, as the camera gaze corresponds with his words, we are shown groups of people gathered in front of the building. These groups had apparently been preventing people from entering or leaving the building.
In this sequence of images an interconnected series of perspectives that can be navigated are presented to the viewer with text superimposed on them to explain either what one is seeing or their contexts. The perspective is removed from the events and gives a long enough time and space frame for multiples to be combined. We are watching now a live world of interactions as the drama of surveillance. The news swallows the city of Cairo, its people and the time they exist in, re-presenting them in a series of fields of action that change only according to the view of the cameras. It reminds me of the third-person, so-called god-view of The Sims City.