Introduction With the globalization of video recording and distribution technology in the first decade of the twenty-first century and the related globalization of the imagined recording and viewing communities, visual agency has emerged as an important part of the processes that make up international politics. Soldiers’ video recordings of atrocities such as those in Abu Ghraib, protesters’ visual denunciations of the repression of dissent in the Arab Spring and visual artists’ questioning of security practices attest to the power of visual agency, as do increasingly ubiquitous bans on filming. On the other hand, meta-coverage of political events has been criticized for shifting the focus from the events themselves to mediation or the media aspects of events. While the increasing prominence given to visual agency and the mediation of conflict makes these interesting themes for documentary filmmaking, they raise tricky questions about how to negotiate attention to the visual agency of documenting within a genre that, for the most part, has seen itself as neutrally observing the world. The present chapter considers questions of visual agency and meta-coverage in the documentary films Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country (dir. Anders Østergaard 2008) and Burke + Norfolk (dir. Luke Tchalenko 2011), while paying particular attention to how these films understand their own roles vis-àvis the visual agency they depict. The analysis of these themes is closely related to recent technological and political developments. The first decade of the twenty-first century witnessed a globalization of image-based communication that was hardly conceivable during the 1990s. The Internet and the digitization of the technologies for recording, distributing and showing video and photographic images redefined the ways in which images spread and meet the spectator. In a parallel development, imagined visual communities also underwent transformations, as largely private and local forms of visual agency became redefined as important public acts on the world scene (Andersen, forthcoming). As the documentary films discussed in this chapter illustrate, this double globalization has influenced international politics. Repression of dissent is not only a problem of achieving superiority of force; such force is now a potential (visual) liability that reconfigures the economy of force used (Andersen 2013). This type

of visual liability is excellently portrayed in Burma VJ, a commercially produced award-winning film about the mediation of the 2007 Burmese protests. The second film considered here, Burke + Norfolk, is a short documentary about photographer Simon Norfolk’s work in Afghanistan, produced for the Tate Museum. Burke + Norfolk attests to the power of visual agency by considering how Norfolk visually questions the occupation of Afghanistan by Western coalition forces. Despite important differences, both films depict the role of visual (or pictorial) agency in violent political conflict. They also explore the practices of metamediation or meta-picturing, in which journalists, scholars, artists, citizens and the documentarists themselves engage. This chapter looks at the space of reflection provided by documentary film in meta-mediating pictorial agency in contemporary conflict. It does so by contrasting Burma VJ and Burke + Norfolk as films that picture the role of picturing in relation to violent conflict and by exploring the relationship between the meta-picturing of the documentary film and the pictorial agency they depict. I argue that both films stick closely to a tradition of documentary filming in which the choices made by documentary filmmakers remain hidden. This contrasts with the emphasis on picturing as an act that the subjects of the films articulate. The chapter first introduces the concepts of meta-mediation and metapictures, discussing how, apart from a focus on mediation as a crucial part of reality, they are defined by reflexivity as a core discursive feature. Subsequently, it moves to an analysis of Burma VJ, and thereafter contrasts the depiction and enactment of visual agency in Burma VJ with the views expressed in Burke + Norfolk. Finally, the discussion centres on how the films enact and depict visual agency in world politics.