chapter  3
20 Pages

Imaging Toxins

WithJennifer Peeples

This essay examines how toxins are visually represented in news and popular media.

More specifically, it analyzes the function of visual narratives, identity, place, and

uncertainty in the construction of the controversial toxicant Agent Orange, a defoliant

used by the US military during the Vietnam War to reduce jungle cover and destroy

cropland causing devastating health and environmental effects. Toxins present an

interesting challenge for visual construction in that they are often invisible and banal in

their esthetics. The essay concludes with five observations for understanding the relation-

ship between images and toxins.