Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan (Book)

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.

Category: Film Studies


Rita Leistner is an interdisciplinary practitioner-theorist. She received a master’s degree in comparative literature from the University of Toronto, where she teaches a course on documentary photography at Victoria College.

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
Smart phone

McLuhan + Fiore + The Printed Book

The iProbes

iProbe 01_ The iPhone Camera + Hipstamatic app 
iProbe 02_Phone Texting 
iProbe 03_Body Armour 
iProbe 04_Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs) 
iProbe 05_Figure / Ground 
iProbe 06_Improvised 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_Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAVs) 
iProbe 12_Sandbags and HESCO Concertina Barriers
The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:00–11:10)

The Tetrads: Laws of Media

'This book is astonishing!' 

The International Centre of Photography library blog, Deirdre Donohue
Related Titles