David Campany contributes an essay ‘I Saw Right Away That He Was Not There’ to Edgar Martins’ new book Anton’s hand is made of guilt. No muscle of bone. He has a Gung-ho Finger and a Grief-stricken Thumb, a research-based documentary project, a novel, a journal, a lipogramme, an imaginary anthropological study, and a multifaceted body of work which includes original photographs, archival photography and images researched from private Islamist, Libyan and dark web forums. It is also accompanied by album of probing soundscapes exploring the everyday experiences of a war correspondent as well as a book of drawings of war scenes (collector’s edition).

Developed in north Africa from 2019-2023, this part-documentary, part-speculative project is based on a poignant and very personal story and experience: the death and disappearance of Edgar Martins’ close friend, photojournalist Anton Hammerl, during the 2011 Libyan war. The book responds to Anton Hammerl’s disappearance/death through an examination of the geography, players and circumstances surrounding his demise as well as a reflection on the decisive but paradoxical role that photography has played in conflict zones.

Through a meta-representational approach that looks beyond the referent – which Martins terms ‘impossible document’ – this publication represents an ambitious attempt to develop a visual lexicon that can be used as a representational and pedagogic tool to interrogate and document modern conflict as well as the spectacle of photojournalism.