Keynote 8th Sept
Professor of Documentary Photography
University of the Arts London
Undertaking documentary practice: some perspectives on the photographic essay
There is a clear relationship between documentary practices and visual anthropology, especially in the area of ethnographic film. Still photography, however, seems less well established within visual anthropology.
This presentation will describe the reportage / photo essay approach to making documentary photography projects. It will describe this very specifically from the perspective of a practitioner making images about specific subjects and usually over extended periods of time. The presentation will deal with some of the methods and mechanics of this approach: learning how to shoot individual photographs, how to edit from these frames, how to think in terms of larger projects involving groupings, sequences or series of images and how to construct photo essays.
These methods are as much about understanding how photographs work, how they emerge, understanding the subject being documented and about developing confidence and essential social skills as they are about choices of technology.
Whilst this presentation does not attempt to describe the wide spectrum of documentary practices, reference will be made to several significant bodies of work as well as to the speaker’s own photographs.
Keynote 9th Sept
Associate Research Fellow
Birkbeck, Department of Politics
Social documentary photography as a medium of representation
Throughout history societies have represented themselves and their social environment in symbols and images. The image as a visual language of representation has played an important role in the development and transformation of society. From the moment the image in the square box was fixed, photographers began expressing ideas through their work. A portrait reflects the social class of the person, and more importantly, the social vision of the photographer.
Social documentary photography is a mediator between time and history, society and the personal. Photography is the spirit of memory and the philosophical materiality of the history of society.
Photography is political and ideological affecting social consciousness and creating public opinion. Who represents, who is represented, and why are they represented? Images have been used to impose, transform, or keep the hegemonic ideology of the elite. Regardless of ideology, art plays a social role in society to deny or reassert a social reality.
Some of the questions I will address are: how can social and economic injustice be represented by social documentary photographers? Can photography be an instrument for social change? Should ethics be at the heart of social documentary photography?
Institute of Audiovisual Arts, Jagiellonian University, Kraków
Archiving Life – Facebook as the Personal Archive of Photos and Experiences
Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites in the world, which counts over one milliard users. People - who created their profiles – are connected with other users and can share photos or videos. Those visual materials become the part of their virtual identity and self-presentation. But these materials are also collected and segregated into albums, galleries or carousels of photos. They create a personal archive. Oliver Grau said during the Transmediale 2016 that Facebook is the largest archive in the world. I agree with this statement, but I would also like to emphasize that every single profile is a specific form of the archive. In this case, the owner of the concrete account is not only the user or the creator of the archive but also becomes the curator. User collects both own photos and those taken from other users. They are part of self-creation and storytelling. But the function of the curator is not only limited by the interface of Facebook - it is also shared with it. Facebook becomes the curator of our archives and can shape our memory. Timeline movies or Facebook year in review” are the example of such situations, where our photos are compiled in a way which could not have been imagined before. The algorithm of Facebook gives them new meaning.
The main aim of proposed presentation is to analyze Facebook profiles in the context of the archive and the role of curator (i.a. Constant projects). This perspective includes types of collections and photos - both those arising from the interface of Facebook, as well as those that result from the trends in social media (selfie and Museum of selfies for example).
The Hyperimage: towards a theory of expanded photography
We are all implicated in photography whether we like it or not, and whether we associate this visual language with a precise function or we use it to shape ourselves as individuals or communities, trading our existence in images. We refer to images and image-making in order to act socially, politically and culturally.
The established categories in which photography was once subdivided, practiced, understood and discussed have been reconfigured. It’s as though our society has freed image making from previously articulated specific applications, blurring the boundaries between genres and functions of image-making, and rendering the photographic image as a free-floating subject on its own, detached from any function or relation specific to its origins; what we may term as the “hyeprimage’.
The text aims to explore the fact that photography is a vocabulary, a language that is neither written nor verbal, but visual and digital. Using the curation of art as a method, and building on my previous body of research on the interaction and mutual influence between artistic and media work (Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform without Informing, Intellect, 2009), I will attempt to grasp how photography has entered its adulthood, and how we can use it to understand and resolve some aspects that typify our visual information age.
Considering the work of theoreticians and artists that have addressed the digital realm in photography and visual culture, both those anticipating the information age (pre-digital thinkers) and those currently living with photography as a usable universal vocabulary, I will address the following main questions:
How are artists’ and cultural producers’ inquiries, values and justifications reconfiguring through the hyperimage? How do contemporary artists act as translators for such enquiries from one context to another, rather than representing them in one context?
Conversely, how does an overall “media age” which almost doesn’t recognise different visual practices and approaches, inform cultural production including curating, exhibition making and displaying?
The answers to the above queries may bring to surface how this photographic moment in the history of image-making, distribution, staging and consumption is changing the organising as well as the production principle of current visual culture creation.
Goldsmiths, University of London
Crossing Lines: Depicting the Psychogeographical Encounter
Can a Psychogeographical encounter with ethnographies of a place, by way of a dérive, be shown in a single image? By creating a visually constructed tableau it is possible to bring together a narrative of space, time and memory within a single frame. The result is an excavation of place for discovery by the digital layering from the palimpsest of urban events.
The depiction of place as a Psychogeographical encounter using the photographic medium causes a dilemma for the artist. How can an essentially peripatetic form of engagement with the urban landscape, which at present is best served by an established literary lineage, be represented in a single photograph and yet retain the quintessential experience of the dérive.
The methodology I have used to address this problem is the constructed tableau form, wherein a sense of place is maintained and not lost, as in sequential or disparate types of images. The tableau is a reconstructed form that brings together a visual narrative of space, time and memory within a single frame. By layering multiple images together that were taken over a significant period of time, a kind of reverse excavation of a place, and associated memories are presented to the viewer for discovery. The Psychogeographic narrative that results from this unearthing is negotiated by a form of visual meanderings within a fixed frame.
By transporting the dérive via the camera to the computer screen a kind of
postproduction revisiting occurs that opens up imaginative/memorative signs from the documented urban encounters: the scholar and artist Svetlana Boym, writes of “memorative signs” creating a correspondence between an inner landscape and the external world; these signs find a realisation in this methodology.
In conclusion the use of a digital methodology, can create a tableau that holds evidence in an informative and poetic way that brings back the visual from outside an ideological or social platform.
Developing the image: re-evaluating contemporary photographic practice
What value does using text and research bring to long-term photography projects? Taking a practitioners’ perspective, in this paper I examine my ongoing work in Lourdes – which combines traditional photographic methods, phenomenological theory, and ethnographic ‘thick description’ (Geertz) – in the light of changing approaches to what constitutes photography and what the role of the photographer is (neutral-observer, auto-ethnographer, socio-political agitator). Contemporary photographers (Liz Hingley, Alec Soth, Taryn Simon, and Broomberg and Chanarin) are using social anthropology and academic research methods and theories to deepen the understanding of the human condition and religious experience, re-imagining and re-contextualising the photograph in so doing. What does the increasing use by these practitioners of installation pieces, critical text, historical documents, soundscapes, and found objects mean for stand-alone photography? As photographic work begins to leave behind the model of a sole or prime focus on the production of images, how far does this represent a shift in the status of photography from a purely visual language towards a multi-disciplinary practice? Comparing and contrasting my own experience in Lourdes over the past three years with the work of other practitioners who are exploring faith and religion through the merging of image with ethnography and research, I will argue that the visual language of photography is increasingly and productively interacting with other discourses as traditional approaches to photographic projects are re-evaluated.
Ana Paula Motta
Institute of Archaeology, University College London
(re)visiting the cemetery: the multiple realities behind the ‘shooting’ of photographs at the San José de Flores cemetery (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
The aim of this paper is to address how photographs were view according to two distinct types of actors: the Directorate General of Cemeteries and the social researcher. The following research was carried out as part of an archaeological project concerning mortuary practices developed during the Late nineteenth and Early twentieth Century on the San José de Flores cemetery (Buenos Aires, Argentina). Focusing on the iconographic elements present at the cemetery mausoleums, photographic images were implemented to record these features. Photographs, from this perspective, were considered as a visual support for the post-fieldwork analysis. However, during the survey, staff members of the cemetery manifested a concern of the implications that photographing the mausoleums may have, since they are responsible for their conservation. As one of the most abandoned and looted cemeteries in the city, actions were taken against the recording of the deplorable state of this cemetery. This manifested a second perspective on photographs: as testimonies of institutional neglect and the expansion of deprived neighborhoods in the area. Contrary to the belief of the non-interventive character of photographs, the frustrated attempts to detained the act of photographing the vaults led to the exploration of new enquires regarding what goes on at this cemetery.
Andreia Alves de Oliveira
Artist and independent researcher in photography, London
Between Documentary and Social Science: Photographing Migration
Paper presenting a photographic project that I am developing about immigration from Portugal to London. Through interviews, portraits and photographs of places, the project investigates the experience of migration in relation to notions of m/dis/placement, with the aim of intervening in the politics of visibility of migrants' experience.
Portugal has the highest emigration rate in the EU and one of the world's highest. Since 2011 and coinciding with an IMF bailout, emigration has peaked once again. As a Portuguese national and an e/immigrant myself, I felt compelled to witness and to understand this phenomenon through my practice.
The paper will present and discuss the project A Place Called Diaspora, which by means of interviews with Portuguese e/immigrants in London, portraits and photographs of places, aims to investigate experiences of migration and create a representational space where these experiences can be conveyed and accessed.
In spite of the cyclical character of emigration in Portugal, the question of why do people emigrate and what does (mass) emigration say about life and society has not received sufficient attention from scholars there. Socially and historically, the emigrant is mostly represented as a figure of contempt if not derision, or then as a victim. In today's world of flows, where geographical movement is facilitated by the collapse of spatial distance, various reasons motivate the need to and/or the will to emigrate, a process which in turn leads to questioning about received (and enforced) notions of border and identity defined in relation to Nation and nationality.
The project aims to learn about these motivations but also to intervene in widespread representations of migration – hence its epistemological hybridity, proposing both an approach and an outcome that sit between visual ethnography and documentary photography, aiming to bridge the gap between these forms of respectively formal and informal knowledge. Research methods derived from ethnography such as the interview, oral history and participant observation are adopted and adapted to the codes and affective potential of the photographic image in order to produce a scripto-visual static portrait that aims to arrest the flow of migration and offer the viewer not only knowledge, but also and moreover the elements enabling them to recreate through thought and emotion the experience which is being conveyed.
Artist/Researcher, Odessa, Ukraine
Intersubjectivity in Photographic Method
Distortion in simulation is inevitable. When concerned with depiction of visual reality for further discourse in social sciences it is essential that one understands the inevitability of parallax. Neuroscientific evidence gives us an insight into visual perception as inseparable from the other identifiable sensory dimensions.
No perception is monosensory and the sensory equilibrium of the individual mind does not allow to constitute a universal approach to representation. It is this realisation of impossibility of subjectivity that should be informing the method one chooses to archive visions, the method of preservation, the method of responsible intersubjectivity formation.
When depicting the organic world, the preservation approach would benefit from inscription using a similarly organic medium. In the case of photography this means prioritising analogue (film) photography over digital photography.
Laying the foundation for an image that will be of further use to social science one shall primarily think of the eye itself. The most appropriate aspect ratio, informed by the qualities of the eye’s field of vision, is 4:3.
The lens that would preserve natural vision and inform the readers and researchers more integrally is a standard prime lens that would provide the least amount of distortion while maintaining the focal length necessary to fit the object in the frame at a given distance.
Lastly, the object’s backdrop, as well as the lighting conditions informing the vision, must be reflective of it’s natural ecology. Despite all attempts at subjectivity, when doing photography for any social purpose one must always keep in mind that with every movement of the shutter intersubjectivity is being affected. This affect will at a point go beyond the control (context) of the creator.
Institute of Archaeology, University College London
Shooting Afrikaners: Considering the Problematics of Photographic Representations of Afrikaners.
This essay will investigate the implications of photographing a people, considering the way in which Afrikaners are perceived via photographic representation by critically analysing and comparing the work of David Goldblatt’s Some Afrikaners Photographed (1975) and Roelof Petrus van Wyk’s Jong Afrikaner (2012), and revealing the uncomfortable tension between essentialism and representation.
The discussion of the problematics and politics of ethnographic photographic representation must be framed within a larger discussion of photography as a creative medium and the notion of ‘truth’ as developed by Sonntag, Wells, Berger, et. al., the implications and meanings of context (and the inevitable lack thereof), and the notion of the reader as translator, as defined by Gayatri Spivak.
Ultimately, photographic representations of Afrikaners have belie the realities of a shifting sense of hybridity - a cultural complexity that is constantly in flux and forever changing what ‘Afrikanerness’ means or looks like. The point of this essay is not to suggest that there is one, or any, correct way to truly depict this culturally hybrid people. It serves as an investigation into what the representations of Afrikaners are not showing us - a warning against the inherent flaws of photographic representation that must always be taken into consideration when viewing a photograph of a cultural people in general, and of Afrikaners specifically.
Arturo Soto Gutierrez
Fine Art, University of Oxford
Guileful Words for Common Spaces
One of the characteristics of documentary-style photography lies in its perceived truthfulness and authenticity, a notion that becomes even more entangled when the images are inscribed into a conceptual framework. This paper offers a critical analysis of Zoe Leonard’s Analogue (1998-2009), focusing on the way its deceptively simple title shapes the discursive significance of a very large number of photographs taken in dissimilar locations (USA, Mexico, Cuba, Uganda, Poland, etc.) and of an equally diverse subject matter (store fronts, hand painted signs, of informal commerce, etc.). Analogue is an artwork designed to frustrate viewers through its fragmentary representation of reality so that they do not achieve any sense of narrative closure. Leonard’s title aligns with the postmodern logic that characterized the Pictures generation. While her strategy is intellectually stimulating, the factual and social value of the subject matter resists her forced taxonomy. I argue that Leonard missed a chance of making a more affective commentary that revealed her sustained experience of New York City, instead of concentrating on dismantling the conventions of photographic seriality, which end up rendering Analogue as an emotionally ineffective display of formal codes; a shallow commentary on international trade as experienced by the fashionable life of the global artist.
Painting the News: An Artist’s Response to the Photographic Archive of Conflicts in the Middle East
An artist talk about painting as a means of engaging with media images of violence.
The group of paintings, Dispatches, is based upon recent media images from the Middle East. The series began as a way of addressing the biopolitics of the war on terror as I became interested in how we, as western viewers, have become spectators in the disciplining of suspect bodies, first in Iraq and Afghanistan with images of presumed insurgents, and later through images of “the arab street” during the uprisings of the Arab Spring. The paintings engage in a process of willful omission—the identities of figures are erased and the narrative details are obscured—creating a void of specificity while bringing attention to the language and motifs that recur in press images from these conflicts. I am interested in questions about what it means to bear witness, to be a spectator of distanced violence, and the possibilities for painting to shift the meaning and affect of photographic source material.
Birgit Ruth Buergi
Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore (NUS)
Framing the “nāga-snow prince” image neuroanthropologically
Adding descriptive analysis to the thought-provoking statement of the neuroaesthetics scholar Semir Zeki that artists are neurologists in their own right seeks to identify possible apertures for collaborative engagement to establish the neuroscientific relevance and significance of artistic understandings of the organization of the brain.
The neuroanthropological proposition to ‘focus on how the nervous system responds and adapts to social, material, and cognitive environments’, rather than treating ‘the nervous system as the medium for culture’s propagation’ (Downey 2012), is suggestive and worth pondering. In what (new) ways neuroanthropology may bring ‘a more intriguing set of research questions to cultural neuroimaging’ to aid the interdisciplinary brain sciences to ‘move beyond unproductive understandings of culture, including dichotomies between East and West’ (Downey and Lende 2012) is explored through artistic bi-stable imagery. Looking at the “nāga-snow prince” image, the viewer may see the semi-divine serpent-like figure in Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain iconography, and/or the imaginary consort of Andersen’s fairy tale ‘The Snow Queen’ (1844), or neither. What we discern depends on how our cerebral cortex translates the neural impulses of seeing this photographic artwork into the language we speak. Instead of framing the disputed barriers to the communication of qualia (Bartra 2015), involving cognition, memory, and the visual unconscious as a philosophical problem, I approach the aesthetic expressiveness of works of contemporary art that ‘trick’ the visual brain in dialogue with the Thai contemporary artist Piyatat Hemmatat, and author of the Titans collection. Aided by these analytical insights, we may be in a better position to discuss and, in time, decide the ethnographic potential and import of the artistic aesthetics of the bioarts for writing the cultures of the sciences and technologies, and ‘the imaginaries that inform new experimental discoveries’ (Fischer 2015) in the emerging ‘neuroworld’ (Whitehouse 2012).
Carol P.H Chow, Paul Yeung and Wing Ki Lee
Carol P.H. Chow
School of Journalism and Communication, Chinese University of Hong Kong
photographer and curator
Wing Ki LEE
Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University
Photography as Methods: Curatorial approach, creative applications and interdisciplinary debates
‘Photography as Methods’ is a curatorial concept and a collaboration of nine research-led projects in photography by academics, artist-ethnographer, photographers, designers and social sciences researchers and aims to explore and examine how photography is employed to investigate social issues, embark upon sociological imagination, critically examine the notion of time, identity, geo-politics and visual culture in Hong Kong and across the regions. These practice-led research projects include documentary photography, conceptual photography, found photography, participatory action research, experimental ethnography, photo-voice and visual topography. The curatorial concept situates photography and the use of such under interdisciplinary research, through contemporary art practices and in local and regional milieus to simulate discussion and debates of photography, cultural studies and social sciences in the 21st century. The scopes of research, also the subject matter, deal with multiculturalism, nationalism and diaspora, identity politics, urban studies and semiotics. This is an artist-curator’s talk to introduce the projects and generate discussion and debate. The exhibition will take place in November 2016 at the Hong Kong Baptist University and is part of the Hong Kong International Photo Festival 2016. A publishing project is planned as a post-event project to include critical reflection and inform framework of research and creative methodologies.
Long Jet Lag, Jason NG
No Paint No Game, Paul YEUNG
Modern Madonna, Carol CHOW
Waste and Failure: the Evidence of Romance, Wing Ki LEE
Local Tourist, Terry NG
Beloved Park, Anson MAK
Borrowed Space, Dorothy CHEUNG
The Distance of Fifteen Minutes (photo-voice)
Mapping the Visual Culture of Neon-signs, Brian KWOK
Member of the NUJ Photographers Council and British Photographers Council UK
How to ensure mass digitisation is an academic opportunity rather than a ruinous mistake
My research is intended to establish best practice in the use and dissemination of archival photographs in mass digitisation. An important aspect of the work of large academic institutions, this is a necessary step in the process of opening up magazines and other publications in archives to wider academic use.
Initial investigation into the benefits of digitising media that is no longer in circulation may lead those considering it to believe that creating online archives is both beneficial and simple to do. Full stakeholder analysis and consideration of the many copyright issues involved will reverse that impression, leading those involved to wonder if the risk-benefit equation makes the project worth doing at all. This paper discusses my current findings in research that takes a deeper look at the risks and opportunities inherent in the digitisation of images from print media and how this differs from words.
By establishing best practice my intent is to provide a selection of possible ways forward that will best satisfy all parties while providing the rich research material represented by publications in print over the last 200 years and indicate why such material has not so far been digitised.
A risk manager turned photojournalist, I have been working on the maintenance of photographers’ rights in the British Library’s digitisation of Spare Rib over the last 18 months (and peripherally with other commercial and non-academic projects too). I have applied a structured business analysis methodology to create a first-cut generic SWOT analysis within which I will describe the points that any organisation looking to undertake mass digitisation using images would do well to consider.
Carolina Meneses Zamora
Department of Anthropology, University of Manitoba, Canada
Imagining, Living and Negotiating Youth: Masculinities and Fatherhood Beyond Images in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica
As part of a broader project led by Dr. Susan Frohlick, I conducted research in the place where I lived for ten years, a small Afro- Caribbean touristic town in Costa Rica, to better understand the impacts of global tourism in the lives and subjectivities of local youth. The objective of my study is to explore how young men imagine, perform, and negotiate masculinities and fatherhood, in particular, through the diverse intimate encounters they establish with tourist women. To meet this objective I utilized a “youth-centered” approach, which stressed a participatory methodology directed towards skirting the adult-centric assumptions that often underpin research on youth. Photovoice, a methodology that includes critical self-representation through the use of participant´s photography, was a way to meaningfully and creatively engage youth in the reflections that are made about them and their social realities. Participants were asked to take and comment on photographs about places, objects, and (non- identifiable) persons that are relevant to their understandings, and everyday performances of masculinity and fatherhood in relation to tourism. Through this paper, I critically examine the challenges, potentialities, and politics of photovoice. In doing so, I reflect on how photography and images potentially may contribute to current discussions on social research practices about youths’ cultural agency, current power inequalities in research, and the disruption of stereotypes about poor, racialized, young Afro- Caribbean populations.
TEMPORAL DIALOGUES: Archive-based photographic dramatization as a collaborative research method in anthropology
With a point of departure in an analytical comparison of two ethnographic cases (one from Central Australia, 2014 and one from the Brazilian Amazon, 2015), I elaborate on the methodological framework of my ongoing research project. Through a discussion of project components such as archive mining, photo repatriation, and in particular collaborative photographic dramatizations and re-enactments of historical photographs produced during the colonial era, I sketch out how my interventionistic approach evolves into a collaborative dialogue centered around the enactment of a space of playful interaction that engenders particular forms of embodied reflexivity. Hence, the paper asks how we may establish more co-creative and open-ended forms of research and knowledge-production registers that invite for a critical re-contextualisation of the historical source material and the ways in which cross-cultural and cross-temporal juxtaposition may provide an analytical avenue for novel forms of cultural critique.
The presentation will include photographs and audio-visual excerpts.
‘Temporal Dialogues’ is an award-winning comparative research project integrating critical research into colonial archives, interventionistic and co-creative visual research strategies, and exhibition-making in between the disciplines of anthropology and visual arts. Parts of the project have been exhibited in among others Amsterdam, London, Paris, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo.
Royal Institute of British Architects
Towards an Embodied Politics of Heritage Photography
Like most social domains, heritage is saturated with photographic imagery. From archives and museum displays to conservation records and tourist itineraries, photography is deeply embedded in the processes, practices and ideas of heritage. Understanding the moral, ethical and political ramifications of photography across these diverse contexts has become an increasingly urgent task, both for heritage researchers and for those engaged in the production and use of said imagery. The corporeal dimensions of these activities and encounters are however poorly understood. Responding to this gap, this paper focuses on the embodied moment of photographic creation and interpretation across a range of material-discursive environments, taking in touristic engagements with historic sites, the exhibitionary use of photographs by diaspora communities, and the production of new images that seek to question and destabilise the very category of ‘heritage’ photography. Drawing on ethnographic research and applied practice across the heritage sector over the past five years, the paper critically examines the affective resonances of photography and heritage as a means of generating an ‘embodied politics’ that builds upon rather than overturns the politics of discourse and representation usually prioritised by heritage researchers. What role photography itself can play in unraveling the intensities of embodied experience is crucial to this debate, and the paper concludes by questioning the extent to which the inherent stillness of photography can adequately address or illustrate notions of corporeality and affect, which are so closely tied to movement and the continual becoming of human engagements with the past in the present.
Dean Sully & Dinah Eastop
Institute of Archaeology, University College London
Making objects into things with Reﬂectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)
The shift in authority from the producer of data about heritage objects to the consumers of that data, requires a transition in the communication tools used by heritage practitioners. The detached gaze upon the static presentation of a completed object can be transformed into interactive encounters supported by virtual technologies. The use of Reﬂectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), an increasingly widely used photographic technique, has the potential to realign heritage practices by placing the power of the viewer to manage the virtual encounter and interrogate emergent understandings of the presented object. This has the potential to transform the stabilised proper places and objects of heritage into active, informal spaces and things in the life of people involved. Several case studies will be presented to consider the potential of such technologies to destabilise authorised heritage accounts of particular past lives. This expands the type of people, tools, techniques, actions, performance, and ritual that is appropriate for us in managing, caring for, talking about, and understanding heritage places and objects.
Alternatively, it needs to be considered whether these encounters with objects merely construct a façade for enquiry that further detach the gaze of the viewer as a subject separated from their interconnectedness in the formation of the world.
King's India Institute, King's College London
For most of 2015 I lived in Imphal for fieldwork for my doctoral research. It is a city where the everyday is punctuated with conflict due to indigenous struggles for self-determination, insurgency and counterinsurgency measures by the Indian armed forces where the latter has been known to have established a monopoly of violence and coercion. Imphal should continue to remain in the mainstream media but it disappears as it questions the oppression yielded by the State to contain the dissenting citizens. Over the course of the year, I have met a group of diligent young photographers methodically documenting each corner, crevice, rituals and revolutions in the city. In the absence of national media, these images stand alone as informed insider images. From the plethora of images distributed across social media and exhibitions in small arts festivals it is evident that the youth deploy their available resources with a rebel consciousness. The familiarity of many images convey an energy that reflects an ‘impulse for change’ and marking the silences and opacities of dominant discourses. (Lorenzo & De Gemes 2016; Ram 2015). This photo-essay follows the work of three photographers who continue to document protests and through their image-making critique contemporary society in Manipur, India. I explore how their individual vernacular photo-ethnography addresses indigenous issues and sense of one’s own society, thereby weaving threads of resistance and hope in the fabric of complexity that lays over the Imphal.
School of Creative and Liberal Arts, Regent's University London
Representations of the Family in Photography
Family photographs often begin as intimate private images but may be transformed into public sites. They form the starting point for the viewer’s understanding of wider questions of identity, representation, history and society.
In recent years the ‘biographical turn’ has developed in the social sciences, the use of narrative has been foregrounded in history, and oral history is now an established discipline. The lives of ordinary individuals, as opposed to major figures, are perceived as of significant value in our understanding of history and society.
Photography plays a special role in this shift of focus from major figures to ordinary people. It has dual functions in recording and constructing memories, both individual and collective. This paper explores the ways in which family photographs begin as intimate private images but may be transformed into public sites of history. Photographs form the starting point for the viewer’s understanding of wider questions of identity, representation, history and society. Rather than perceive family photographs as providing the key to individual narratives, they may be viewed as constructed images that ‘are most useful when they symbolize socially shared concepts or beliefs rather than present new or unfamiliar information’ (Griffin 1999; 147). This paper explores this notion of the ‘socially shared’ in relation to Jean-Luc Nancy’s study of contemporary community and the social, Ětre singulier pluriel (1996). This paper studies the assumed naturalness of the photographic image and how this may be seen to foster our relationship with others. Examples are drawn from family photographs produced in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Director of the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education
Department of Psychology, University of Roehampton
Photography instead of evidence-based rituals in the research and practice of psychotherapy
The paper describes the use of photographs in facilitating phenomenological approaches to both the practice and evaluation of talking therapies in two settings: schools and prisons. This will be contrasted with the rituals of evidence-based practice, which uses RCTs and measures of anxiety and depression as legitimising measures.
This paper, in exploring the psychological therapies as cultural practices, reports on the use of photographs in providing talking therapy in two projects: one, with young people in schools in England; and the other, with inmates in European prisons. Here, clients choose photographs that call to them, enabling them to speak of what might otherwise be considered ‘repressed’. The process of the therapy is explored in terms of the changing photographs clients choose with the particular unique contexts they describe. This is contrasted with current attempts at evidence-based practice in the psychological therapies which use such approaches as randomised control trials despite their use in the psychological therapies being scientifically questionable. Consideration will also be given to some of the political processes, within for example the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), that have led to the imposition of concepts such as depression and anxiety with their own apparent measures, all of which are argued can be regarded as legitimising rituals rather than science. The imposition, and potential violence of, such external criteria in research will be contrasted with the use of photographs which are considered to enable more a phenomenological approach where research and evaluation criteria emerge from the therapy itself.
Department of Politics, Birkbeck, University of London
Social Documentary Photography: Two Views From Political Science
Photographs can almost certainly influence politics but what about photographers? This paper offers two views from political science, drawing on theories about the role of advocates and experts in the international arena. The implications of these theories for perennial debates in the study of social documentary photography is discussed.
Photographs can almost certainly influence politics but what about photographers? Taking a political science perspective, this paper explores two ways of thinking about the potential political influence of the social documentary photographer. The first sees this photographer as a member of a transnational advocacy network who uses photographs to convey shared normative beliefs. Here the photograph becomes a medium of information politics in the service of transnational social justice. The second sees the photographer as putting his or her expertise at the service of an epistemic community, such that the photograph serves as a kind of visual hypothesis. These related, but conceptually distinct, points of view offer competing perspectives on two perennial questions in the study of social documentary photography: What purpose does such photography serve? Who does the photographer speak for? Through what means do photographers seek to affect political change? These questions – and possible answers to them - are explored with reference to the work of Dorethea Lange, Sebastião Salgado and Matt Herron among other social documentary photographers.
Diana M. Natermann
University of Hamburg, Germany
Decolonising Colonial Photographs. An Interdisciplinary Approach to Colonial Photography at the Ethnological Museum, Hamburg
This paper argues that the supposedly “neutral eye” of photography played an important role in the (re-)enforcement of racial ideas amongst Europeans traversing Africa in the early twentieth century. Consequently, I demonstrate that these patterns often affirmed and nourished prejudices in Europe that exist until today. I show the importance of applying post-colonial theories, with a particular focus on gender, race, and the subaltern, to colonial sources. Lastly, I stress the importance of visual sources for the analysis of modern history in general and Germany ́s colonial heritage in particular. Ultimately, this post-colonial historiographical approach, operating in dialogue with cultural anthropology and relying on the knowledge and expertise of photo archivists aims to “decolonise” the archive.
Susan Sontag pointed out that photographs teach their viewer a new “visual code”1: the sender decides which images are worth remembering and leaves the receiver no choice but to accept this selection. I will problematise this process by re-evaluating “typical” German colonial photographs that portray peoples, landscapes, and cultures from central Africa.2 The goal is to discuss the importance of photographic sources for both the research and the teaching of twentieth- century colonial history.
The almost 3,000 archival objects that form the basis of this project were created in sub- Saharan Africa during an imperial expedition in 1910/11 under the leadership of Duke Adolf Friedrich Mecklenburg and his eight team members. Over one hundred years later, both the glass negatives and the developed positives have still not been scholarly analysed.3 By undertaking this task, I intend to uncover if and how the compliance with a photographer ́s product influenced a society’s view of the African colonial other, and I address the question how to present the results of such an enquiry to a contemporary academic public. Which lessons can we draw from a photographic collection? Can traces of former ways of thinking and viewing cultures still be found in today ́s photography?
1 Susan Sontag, On Photography (London: Penguin Modern Classics 2008).
2 The Research Center “Hamburgs (post-)koloniales Erbe” at the University of Hamburg and Hamburg ́s Ethnological Museum joined forces to apply an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the Mecklenburg expedition ́s photographs. The longer- term goals of this project are to outline the collection ́s social and public importance to Germany ́s colonial history as well as the digitalisation of the objects into an online database.
3 Overall, almost 3.000 objects are preserved at the Ethnological Museum in Hamburg and a selection of circa 200 photographs were published in Mecklenburg, Herzog Adolf Friedrich zu, Vom Kongo zum Niger und Nil. Berichte der deutschen Zentralafrika- Expedition 1910/1911 (Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1912). 1
State of Things: A visual essay that reports on photography, post memory and genocide.
During my postgraduate studies in Photography at the London College of Communication I developed a body of work entitled “State of Things’’. The work studied the dynamic of post-memory in relation to the genocidal policies and forced uprooting that the Greeks of the Black Sea (Pontic Greeks) were subjected to during the formation of the Turkish and Greek nation states in the early twentieth century. It documented a descendant’s attempt to retrace her family’s lost history and questioned the borders between the family album and the archive. The work looked into the power relations between knowledge, experience and truth that produce an archive and its role in forming identities and national history. The documentary photographic work was organized in two parts. Firstly I concentrated in studying the traces of the refugees’ legacy in the urban landscape of Athens. Athens was one of the cities that received a large part of the refugees from Asia Minor and a vast number of the city’s different neighbourhoods flourished from the refugee slums of 1923. Secondly in the summer of 2011 I travelled for the first time to the historical area of Pontus, in the southern part of the Black Sea, in an attempt to locate my own family memories and acquired knowledge within the specific geographical area. In documenting the process of capturing my family’s history from Athens to Trabzon the past and present of Pontus blended with the one of Greece. The resulting work was a collection of documents that formed a ‘Pontic Greek Family Archive’ and showed how ‘the family album’ can be shaped in the events of a genocide and forced displacement.
University for the Creative Arts
Organic attachment: How can the combination of photographs from the American Civil War, and human biological fluids, inform the reconstruction of human attachment?
In order to withstand trauma, emotional detachment can be activated. During intense experiences, such as in wartime events, a person can detach to survive the direct impact of trauma, like in battle, or to document the trauma of others, such as with photojournalists. At the time of the American Civil War, photography was still a relatively new medium. As a result, initially, photographers drew inspiration for compositions from painting and printmaking. However, the psychiatrist Dr. Bessel van der kolk, who specializes in trauma, explains behaviours developed during trauma can be carried on after the traumatic event has ended.
Within my visual research, I investigate how associations of authenticity between photographic images and bodily fluids can shift human value, which has been affected by dehumanizing experiences. During the Civil War, interactions between the body and hazardous chemistry became increasingly common, as humour theory, which was used in hospitals, became less prominent. My method in which I photograph the Wilderness historic site, a Civil War battlefield, and develop the images through the collodion process is intended to re-evaluate culturally permissible evidence of trauma.
The construction of a narrative can help an individual process trauma, which has been interpreted through the body. Through the expression of emotion, the potential for empathy can occur between individuals. Materiality, representation, and history are appropriated as a means to critically assess generational trauma. The goal of my project is to assess the healing potential of empathy in interpersonal relationships.
Anthropology, University of Oxford
Mobile images in (im)mobile social worlds, Yaounde (Cameroon)
Marriage is the key way for young Bamileke to achieve social adulthood. Yet in today’s Cameroon paths to personal and social mobility through marriage are restricted. It is increasingly difficult to find a suitable candidate - one from the same ethnic group, preferably from the same village, of the same religion and with sufficient wealth to afford enormous bride wealth payments. Therefore, many of my Bamileke friends are stuck in a state of youth, experiencing personal immobility, excluded from a myriad of social privileges that adulthood bestows.
Yet my friends constantly search for new ways to overcome this state of immobility. One of them is to engage in a playful performance in front of the camera, dressed up as successful stars, models on the catwalk and as respected and wealthy big women (married). Still images that come out of such performances materialise their desired future aspirations. When displayed at home these images mobilize my friends’ imagination, allowing to maintain daily hope that “the best is still to come” in a context where the reality negates such hopes. The mobilization of imagination also translates in physical mobility when they undertake concrete actions to achieve desired aspirations. Such actions involve images, which in a literal way become mobile - they move across space for example when sent through internet to a man abroad as a part of courtship. But these images can literally move you, not only as you are lifted out of personal immobility through marriage, but also if a man takes you to live with him abroad.
Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney
Viagem Filosófica: Nova Zelândia (Philosophical Voyage: New Zealand)
Views of Paradise is a photographic atlas of the artificial environments of zoological gardens in Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji) that reveals the complex relationship between humans and the natural environment in the past and present, and a vision of its future. In this presentation I will show and analyse the images from New Zealand.
In this philosophical voyage through New Zealand to photograph 25 of its zoos, I saw their representations of local and foreign natural environments, and this country’s natural, rural and urban landscapes. My travels happened through space, but also through time, enabling me to understand aspects of the human relationship with its natural environment in the past, the present, and have a glimpse and think of its future. From the past I found the Maori and European colonisations and their consequences, and the traditional connection of the zoo with the models of the museum and the geographical atlas. From the present I observed the shift in the museological model of the zoo, from exhibiting the exotic to preserving the familiar, and the contemporary issues such as pollution and consumerism, afflicting the animals those zoos are trying to save. I foresee the future in the reduction of the zoo apparatus in favour of an experience that is less artificial, reconnecting the zoo with the image of the Garden of Eden: a walled garden where animals and humans live harmonically. The future can also be a thought: How can we do things differently?
To view images of Views of Paradise, please visit my website: www.fredcamara.com
Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Lisbon, Portugal
LOST FACE: more than a photographic novel
LOST FACE is a “photographic story” in the form of a short documentary/fiction film about an encounter between two women in a Gypsy camp, in the early 1980’s. In this work, we will analyse how the crossing among different media is clearly a contemporary practice of photography hybridization.
Today, photography is living a strong tension between the classical idea of indexicality and the abstract arché of the digital image. The photographic field is getting each time more porous between fiction and reality, still image and moving image, document and art, etc. The apparatus of exhibition is also in transition: the traditional image on paper is now perceived on a digital screen or ban be part of a mixed media installation. To illustrate this photography in becoming (as Gilles Deleuze concept) we will show the example of LOST FACE, a photographic project about an encounter in a Gypsy camp between a prostitute, physically abused by her pimp and a young photographer who got shocked by her face marked with violence. Since the images are thirty years old, they can be considered as “archive photography”. The project isn’t concluded yet because it will involve animation, contemporary film shooting and an elaborated sound design to fill the gaps of a continuous narrative. Through a few concept as multitime photography and Jacques Rancière naked image, we will analyse how it is possible to turn a true story with dramatic images into a discrete journey of a human soul that goes beyond the traditional photographic novel.
Independent researcher on the early colonial photography, international orientalism
Hunting & Collecting
This article tries to capture photographic memories constructed around the Belgian preoccupation with hunting and collecting in the Congo Free State. It highlights the photographic work by the Belgian commandant, explorer, zoologist-turned photographer, Henry Pauwels (1880-1932), whose scientific mission was to integrate African rare and common animal species into a single collection that he subsequently passed to the Museum of Belgian Congo, presently known as the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren. Pauwels’s Photographic Album is an intensely researched study that dissects the Belgian rule in Congo from the diverse viewpoints of the King Leopolod’s functionaries, which reveals how political, scientific, cultural, and demographic shifts altered the nature of this colonial community from the late 19thC to the outbreak of the WWI.
During the Leopold’s rule over Congo, Belgium became a place where goods and memories have been collected. “Collecting mirrored in miniature the colonial process of surveying, classifying and gathering”, explains Peter Osborne in his book on travels and photography. “It was a game of ownership and control” , and not unique to Belgium - the problem in wider ethnographic practice has been much discussed in recent years. Charles Darwin’s biographer Janet Browne explains that for men of his class “natural history, collecting and hunting were simply different expressions of a single urge for possession” . The keen desire of having staffed animals was a symptom of a desire to control time and decay through replication and imitation.
Almost hundred years later, a Congolese researcher, photographer and filmmaker Sammy Baoji has reconstructed a labyrinth of memories around the Belgian preoccupation with hunting and collecting in the Congo Free State in his compact exhibition in Ostende (September 2014).
By trying to reset the area of Pauwels’s photographic and scientific activities back on the map, Sammy Baloji designed a series of photographic installations and photomontages marking personal identification with the Pauwels’s mission to survey Congo’s natural resources, its vast flora and fauna, rain forest, and human beings.
Faculty of Fine Art, University of Basque Country UPV-EHU, Bilbao, Spain
Tra(n)sproject. The artistic research of the imaginal in the multiverse era.
Discontinuity and co-presence (Sense + Nonsense): from the universal image to the dark (non-anthropocentric) multiverse.
The term tra(n)sproject was coined to research the possibility beyond the anthropic imaginal and sensical project (beyond factual or logical tansimmanence, beyond the chronomorphic contemporary / heterotopy and heterochrony of the co-presence: Sense + multiversal nonsense).
Once assumed by astrophysics, by Philosophy and Aesthetics the co-existence of the multiverse (composed of infinite extinguishing and generated universes) in which under other physical laws is not yet ponderable the univocal projection of the transcendental image of the human being as Sense of the whole, the architectural construction of a sensocentric reality centered on our vision of it; now is the turn of Art and its image. Beyond the extra-polatable Sense of the Being co-exists another dynamic where they meet today: the subjective -particular-, the pre-subjective natural impulse -species- (not bio-semiotic), and the objective of the Real, in all their -n- dimensions and possibilities.
Photographer / Artist, Swansea College of Art
“Farmer” is a body of work that Photographer Jack Clark has currently been exploring based on the skateboarding subculture. Significantly revolved around one subject, he aims to capture not only the subject himself but any connections that add to his subject’s identity (e.g. friendship, relationships and hobbies). By capturing his lifestyle, to the basics of the subculture itself, he wishes to portray a very personal study of the subculture from an individual skater’s life, from his personal point of view. This is an ongoing project that Jack has been developing since knowing his subject “farmer” and developing extensively since starting university at Swansea College of Art (Trinity Saint David). Due to Jack and Farmer being close childhood friends and remaining friends over the past 10 years, it’s allowed him to access personal details of his subject’s life with almost no boundaries pushing him to document this period of his subjects life and his lifestyle displaying close detail. By doing this it has enabled Jack to document minor details within his subject’s life in order to make his project not only personal but exiting for himself and the audience, letting him produce a self-managed project that displays to him, an in depth personal documentary of the subculture. He has displayed the full project in the style of a book which links in with the common overview of skateboarding, using wood from a skateboard to create the covers for the book, he has also used his work to make a hand drawn promotional packs that include a zine, a disk with the trailer for the project and a no narrative video showing a mash up of clips while photographing his subject, stickers using images from the project and a small print of an image from his work which reflects his subject that he is documenting.
University of Exeter
This Encountering archival photographs, renegotiating history
paper argues that the historical meaning of photographs can exceed the meaning that was intended within the historical context in which they were produced. This is because photographs exist in the present and therefore within ‘the historical context of the viewer’. Material confrontations with historical evidence shape researchers’ interpretations—and therefore affects what is taken to be “the past.”
This paper examines photographs of facial plastic surgery cases from the First World War. Drawing on the assumption that a photograph’s meaning comes from its use and the context in which we view it, and emerging from the archive experience and the affect that this encounter has on me as a viewer, I explore how the photographs elicit readings, affect my historical consciousness, and shape their content for me as a viewer. The study begins with a definition of Foucault’s concept of medical discourse as a means of putting the photographs into their historical context. The use of photographs to illustrate and support surgical progress played a key part in shaping medical thinking and the dissemination of information on facial surgery. However, reading the photographs through medical discourse only takes us so far in understanding what they mean today. These photographs raise difficult questions about their function within, and potentially, across historical discourses. These surgical images problematize Foucault’s claims to using coded ways of seeing to access the photograph’s past. The surgical images are historical photographs, meaningful within the kinds of discursive frameworks Foucault proposed. And yet these surgical photographs can affect me—and not only me—in a way that seems to cut across time and cultural convention, that generates a spark of recognition, a connection—however brief—that cannot be discursively contained. The surgical photographs complicate, or even undermine, my own understanding of history. From one point of view, they are important historical documents, but from another they function in a completely different way.
The un-photographic subject
As a method of recording, documenting, reporting and giving testimony, photography is often one of the visual researcher’s tools of choice. Arguably, photography may be thought to represent its subjects accurately and reliably. However, in this paper I examine the significance, not of photography’s representational qualities – its ability to capture moments or to contain our memories – but how it specifically configures subjects of representation.
Photography - and with it contemporary cultural identity - assumes its subjects contain within them some thing photographically recognisable. The structuring characteristics of photographs are their fragmentary, accidental and incomplete in nature, traits also common to much of modern culture. Since our experiences of the world are mediated by our experiences of photographs, we might ask whether the world should be considered to be in some sense ‘photographic.’ The implication apropos to the configuration of subjects of representation is that their formation occurs, not unavoidably, through how we photograph what we photograph. Rather, subjects of representation are created through the systematic forces of replication and distribution that underpin photographic practice. In this conceptualisation, a photograph cannot be presumed to be simply an inscription of an external subject; the photograph implicates and calls into being its subject through its own various modes of duplication, circulation and transmission.
Within any visual research, photographs presuppose a photographic subject of research. I suggest it may therefore be a pressing task of photography, within the context of academic research, to expatiate something of the un-photographic subject.
Jung Joon Lee
History of Art and Visual Culture, Rhode Island School of Design, USA
Body as Site: The Geopolitics of Photography in Postwar East Asia
Body as Site: The Geopolitics of Photography in Postwar East AsiaAugust 15, 2015, marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War. The ways in which the event was commemorated varied: for example, Japan memorialized the end of World War II, while Korea celebrated the 70th anniversary of independence. Many of these commemorative efforts shared their use of visual media, even as they reproduce the disjunction between what is being remembered through the semiotics of the visual. For much of the region, the end of the Pacific War also ushered in the self-sanctioning of American military presence and activities. Not coincidentally, this particular context has consistently been rendered invisible in creating the memory of “the end of the war.” However, U.S. military bases and camptowns in East Asia continue to be the space of intensifying everyday militarism.
Focusing on photographs of sex workers and military servicemen in camptowns that “host” the U.S. military bases in South Korea and Japan, this paper explores an ‘alternative’ methodology photography offers for the (art) history of postwar East Asia. The paper examines the body as a contested site of geopolitics through the late Korean artist Kim Yong’tae’s installation, DMZ, which consists of over 130 portraits he collected from photography studios in South Korean camptowns; and Canadian photographer Greg Girard’s ongoing photography series, Half the Surface of the World, made in U.S. military bases across East and Southeast Asia. These photographs expose what remains largely invisible in the history of postwar East Asia: service labor, sexual and affective, in camptowns and the Korean and Japanese governments’ position(ing) in light of expanding American militarism.
Hochschule Hannover, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Faculty
Images make history - and with them, politics are made. On the Politics of Images in Photojournalism
The lecture puts a focus on photojournalistic images and makes the complex and multidimensional interrelations with politics visible. Therefore the lecture interrogates historical and current image production in photojournalism and demonstrates that images not only respond to political events but also play an important role in shaping them.
Deconstructing the idea of photojournalistic truth and the image as witness the lecture points out that not the truth of representation can be recognized but only its effects. Images today stand for many things, but they are not reliable witnesses of a world as it is. Nonetheless the journalistic convention in photography has relied on this narrative for a long time.
In many discourses on photography frequently the power of images is invoked, but the power of images is limited. In particular the so-called power cannot be attributed to the images solely. Even more important is the fact that every image is integrated in a wide range of medial and political correlations. Images do not mirror reality but fashion their own reality from the means at their disposal. Without a doubt images make history, but with them and the processes and discourses they are involved in politics are made.
Taking in mind the structures that determine what and how things fall into the field of the visual the lecture also examines artistic works in particular which reference the convention of photojournalism to sharpen the question how images can be used to take a critical stance on politics.
Artist, School of the Art institute of Chicago
Distribution and documentation of photographic social media art projects
My photographic research centres on exploring the manifold ways in which social media affects and informs identity construction in the digital age. Using photograph as main media and inspired by contemporary concepts in media theory and criticism (e.g. the writings of philosopher Zygmunt Bauman and communication theorist Marshall McLuhan), I investigate the notion of social media as an extension of the self, and the fluidity of identity in contemporary society. To this end, I not only use my own body and life to stage experiments, but also appropriate various social networking websites (including Facebook and Instagram) in the process of creation, which allows fellow users to become co-creators as they engage with the artwork. As a result of this participatory element, my art projects remain in a constant state of flux.
Social media art projects encourage everyone involved to interrogate how such artworks are distributed and received by its viewers. Many online projects when presented in the physical environment alter its original meaning. Another relevant issue to be considered is its documentation. Several online platforms that were used to create early works have been deleted by their sources. Additionally, the artworks on virtual platforms are constantly changing and being recreated by online users who interact with the original work 24 hours a day, making the archival process a challenge.
Social media is a dominant cultural code that has led to significant political changes. It has transformed the ways people establish intersubjective connections with each other and with the world at large.
Department of Geography, University College London
Spiritual Flavours: A multi-faith photo recipe book
Spiritual Flavours is a collaborative arts project resulting in a 'multi-faith' photo cookery book, which includes recipes that people from diverse faith communities in Ealing have cooked for the project. These recipes have been chosen because of their biographical and spiritual significance. The book visually explores the relationship between food, faith and home, by intertwining portraits, biographical narratives, visual interpretations of such narratives, pictures of the cooked dishes and the food preparation, home interiors and objects, and Ealing landscapes. This project forms part of my practice-based doctoral research, in which I use photography and film to comparatively explore the relationship between home and religion, by paying attention to domestic material culture, in particular that which is related to food, cooking and eating.
In this paper, I present some of the visual work from this project in order to reflect on my experience of using photography as research practice. I also explore how photography is particularly relevant for the study of material, embodied and affective religious experiences. I argue that visual arts practice (distinct from visual methods) contributes a performative understanding of religious culinary traditions in ways that are inseparable from the materiality and practices involved in the creative process itself. In conclusion, I draw on my experience as a photographer (www.lauracuch.com) and as a researcher to sketch out some of the challenges and opportunities of developing research at the intersection of geography, anthropology, documentary and fine art.
The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design
Phone's blowin' up: diffractive perspectives, response-ability, ugly portraits, flawless selfies, and how to dance with images
Navigating the borderland between photography as ethnographic evidence and photography as artistic representation, this paper and visual presentation addresses the becoming of identity amongst a group of young Muslim girls in Copenhagen. Through photography made by the participating girls, photographic portraits and collage work by me, a designerly habit of mind, and the theoretical framework of agential realism (Barad 2010), I am exploring themes of response-ability and aesthetic imagination. In that way the girls’ way of seeing, my way of seeing them, their way of seeing themselves, their way of seeing my way of seeing their way of seeing are visually explored. My presentation addresses the photographs as aesthetic and material objects aimed at being exhibited, as well as photography as a highly entangled, performative and participatory practice. Traces of the research process and my entangled intra-actions with the girls are embedded in the visuals produced. This diffractive and participatory approach seeks to bridge and further insights from conceptual photography and visual social research in a way that allows for various perspectives and multiple stories to emerge, while unmasking the many unnoticed and marginalized commonplace actions, skills, and activities of these young immigrant girls.
University of Portsmouth
Displaced Communities and the Creation of Personal Archives
Following on from previous projects, photographic and academic* relating to the Middle-East, I will be presenting and discussing the development of a project focusing on Kurdish immigrants and the creation of ‘personal digital archives’ combining the representation of artefacts relating to an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ and material memory. The international community lead by UNESCO has recently become conscious that ICH deserves international safeguarding as it represents the variety of living heritage of humanity as well as the most important vehicle of cultural diversity. For the participants, one important factor would be the self-identification of this heritage as an essential element of their cultural identity and this could encompass all immaterial manifestations of culture such as instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith. As most refugees / migrants would have faced a multitude of issues surrounding displacement and resettlement overcoming traumatic experiences, they most probably would have been able to take only a few artefacts with them which sometimes amount to a few photographs and/or personal mementoes (material memory). I therefore envisage that, through a collaborative process, many other items could be identified as being of personal significance and added to the ‘archive’ such as remembered songs, superstitions, myths, lullabies (ICH) as well as a storytelling account of their journeys (oral history).
Many histories of displaced communities from the Middle-East remain untold and in the case of the Kurdish people, theirs has been especially marked by continued persecution and suppression of their culture resulting in a strong oral tradition. In this paper, I will be reflecting on the value and challenges of a project at the intersection of the personal/history and of several disciplines such as fine art, documentary and anthropology. Art/Photography combined with text and audio, can therefore perform a social role in re-inserting a history and individual stories/archives can sometimes communicate more powerfully as well as speak of wider narratives about migration and identity.
I will be showing examples from previous projects and possible lines of enquiry would be: what is the role of personal archives when institutional ones do not exist? What is the impact of digital/online archives on displaced communities? Can they help with the recognition of a cultural heritage?
Department of Communication Studies, University of Antwerp
The Photo Essay as an Expressive Academic Format: a discussion of characteristics, opportunities, expectations and impediments.
This presentation will argue that the social and behavioral sciences should prudently embrace more experimental, expressive and experiential forms of data production and communication, such as the scholarly photo essay. It will try to come up with an outline of what this implies, what impediments are on the way and how they can be addressed concretely.
An emerging practice in many venues, ‘expressive’ scholarly products such as the photo essay, received relatively little explicit theoretical and methodological attention. As a result individuals seeking to create such potentially exciting products are largely left out in the cold with respect to: how to select/produce and combine images or other types of visual materials, how to make them work in tandem with the textual parts (titles, main text, captions..), how to sequence them, how to construct an argument or experience through a thoughtful combination of images, typography, lay out and text (and possibly spoken text, music and ambient sound), and finally how to meet the disciplinary expectations. For indeed, in addition to the ‘multimodal’ and medium related challenges, scholars also have to come to terms with the scientific communities which usually are unfamiliar with this line of work and as a result often dismissive towards approaches that are implicit rather than explicit and that use expressive means other than words and numbers to convey insights. A ‘visual’ social science worthy of that name should not only try to investigate or deconstruct the visual, but also try to become more ‘multimodal’ in its way of ‘communicating’ its findings and insights. This presentation will argue that the social and behavioral sciences should prudently embrace more experimental, expressive and experiential forms of data production and communication. It will try to come up with a clear outline of what this implies, what impediments are on the way and how they can be addressed concretely.
Magdalena H. Rusek-Karska
Institute of Archaeology and Department of Polish Studies
In The Lens of Archaeologist- Methods of Documentations During the Excavations in Poza Maya and Nakum (Guatemala)
Poza Maya is the archeological site, situated in the National Park Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo. The project involves conduction the archaeological research in Poza Maya and create comprehensive documentation of monuments discovered there. I expect that, thanks to the archaeological and documentary work I will be able to combine the position of Poza Maya in a broader socio- political context of the region associated with nearby, positions and determine its position in the department of Peten.
The project based on the methodology of interdisciplinary research, which use both archeology and epigraphy, as well as the latest, non-invasive method of documentation (ie. photogrammetry and stereoscopy) and excavation. It should be noted that most of the glyphic texts refers to the life of the rulers and important events in the history of the ruling families, which is why the discovery of new epigraphic monuments and the creation of a catalog of existing materials may help us to shed a new light on the history of this region: determine the names of the local rulers, to determine political relations with other nearby centers (mainly with Yaxha ) and try to identify the role of Poza Maya in geopolitical situation during the classical period. It is very important, because so far no one attempted to carry out research on the history and dynastic, war and trade connections between mentioned centers. During our research we are using the normal, photographical documentations but also the night-photography which is the best way to see all the details and glyphs. During my speech I would like to present to the audience how this type of documentation looks like and what may it brings.
Margit Saltofte Nielsen
Aalborg University, Denmark
Learning Fieldwork by Using Photos: Analysing Techno-Anthropology students’ portfolio reflections
Techno-anthropology students at Aalborg University have introduced the use of photography for different purposes in the course “Portfolio in Anthropological Work” during fieldwork. The students’ use of photos has led to documentation of new forms of data that reflect increasing familiarity with photographing as an everyday documentation technology than with written field notes. For instance, photos is used as a memory device, a sort of “jottings” (Bernard 1996), a way of creating a (shared) reflexive distance of contexts and situations that are otherwise difficult to express in words. A photo can help the researchers remember details of places and situations better than written notes. Furthermore, learning processes and knowledge creation in fieldwork practice are supported by using and reflecting on photography in the students’ field diaries and learning portfolios. In the student’s portfolios photos as representation lead to reflection on learning and knowledge production. Visual images of learning processes can also document important meanings created from and about fieldwork. Photos can open the way for abstractions and hidden knowledge which may otherwise be difficult to formulate in words.
1. At the bachelor programme in Techno-Anthropology at Aalborg University you use anthropological theory and methods to study how technology is used, and how it influences users. The programme combines competences in carrying out anthropological studies of techno-science cultures with technological insight.
Iuav University of Venice
The Territory of Photography. Explorations on the Water and Asphalt Infrastructure in the Veneto Central Area.
Among the researches dedicated to the study of the territory, it seems to emerge an interstitial space, a field of non-exclusion among disciplinary speeches, to which the practice of photography may have access, once recognized appropriate conditions of existence and a specific level of cognitive effectiveness.
The research was developed from a theoretical and methodological apparatus derived from his- torical and contemporary “artistic” photography, which at the same time defines the tools for realizing a photographic survey of the territory. Those linguistic devices have been focused on two key themes of the Veneto central area: thewater regime and the mobility.
The work starts from a line cutting the Veneto central plain (an extensive area of two thousands square kilometers) which is fed back to an oblique cross-section. The line position and orienta-tion intercept areas and topics relevant to the researches and to the reading of the whole territory.
In a later phase, the results of the fieldwork were organized in “path units”. Those units simultaneously define the scale and extension of the sampling and exploration and they support the spatial distribution of the pictures on the map. The selected sequences of photographs are the visible part of a set of rules that configure the largest corpus of the archive: on one side a denotative logic, on the other side a syntactic and narrative logic.
University of Stirling, Scotland
Researching the role of the visual in educational settings using non-representational methodologies
This paper will offer perspectives on qualitative research employing visual methods and non-representational theory in a Deleuzian-influenced, relational-materialist enquiry into how everyday communication and meaning-making through digital photography can be harnessed in educational settings.
The ubiquity of cameras in mobile, networked devices is placing the apparatuses of cultural production into the hands of its participants. These changes have far reaching implications for long-standing structures of power and control. The effects are being felt acutely in education, where curricula and pedagogy can no longer be anchored to the knowns of teachers’ pasts. How can everyday meaning-making and communication through the practice of digital photography be harnessed in educational settings?
In this qualitative enquiry, the visual is both the empirical focus and the methodological orientation. Auto-driven photography, photomontage and photo-elicitation interviews afford teachers and young people time and space to reflect on their agency and the potentialities for visual praxis. A non-representational theory of photography does not refute representation per se. Rather than simple go-betweens reflecting some a priori order waiting to be unveiled, decoded or dispelled, photographs are apprehended as performative presentations; as doings. In research, the focus shifts beyond normative categorisations of ‘what’ is represented, to a relational-materialist analysis of ‘how’ is meaning stabilised within the on-going dynamic formation of the social? Furthermore, these non-cognitive, (in large part) non-verbal, practical visual accomplishments elude ‘representation’ through verbal codes and ontologies traditionally favoured by academics as the primary representational form. How then, can they be included within research? This enquiry is presently enmeshed in fieldwork, but beginning to formulate working plans for conveying raw data, vignettes, accounts of non-judgemental witnessing, and photographs ‘in’ - or perhaps ‘as’ - the final form of the PhD submission.
Department of Geography, University of Durham
Department of Geography, University of Durham
River(s) Wear: A Photographic Investigation
River(s) Wear was developed during a Leverhulme Trust artist in residency programme in the geography department at Durham University. The project investigated the relationship between local populations in the River Wear catchment area and their environment. The residency resulted in a photographic work that was produced during daylong walks and considering a variety of social, economic and geomorphological forces.
Photography, specifically, the photographic act, was used as a research tool demanding a unique form of attention to the subject of the investigation while requiring the physical presence of the artist/researcher. The photographic work was contingent to a phenomenology of walking while engaging with local memories and heritages and with the manifestations of social and economical forces (e.g. environmental and community groups, mining industry, tourism or farming practices). This photographic ethnography promoted an immersion in the local environment and an understanding of some of the implications of living in the area (e.g. the impact of reduced public transport or the importance of the industrial revolution’s heritage) and unveiling traces of human activities that otherwise would have gone unnoticed: ventilation shafts of disused mines, hidden but fully operational quarries, foresting and farming practices.
The project addressed some of the different perspectives and interests of the local populations in relation to their environment, suggesting the existence of various understandings (and uses) of the river rather than a single and unifying view. This presentation will present the photographic work (http://santosmiguel.com/Site/Wear.html) while discussing the crucial role of photography in relation to the overall project.
Film as an archive for colonial photographs: activating the past in the present
My recent practice has re-ordered, reframed and projected photographs from the archive of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later renamed BP) through film. The merging of still and moving images has offered a way of addressing problems associated with blind-spots and habits of disavowal that pertain to colonial memory and its representations.
In this paper I focus on some of the ways in which photographs embedded within film produce an order of historical meaning that registers through affect and the experiential. I look at what photographs embedded within film ‘do’, and how they act on the viewer, and in particular, how they shape a viewer’s experience of time, the past, and historicity. Crucially, I show how the dynamic between various actors – the photographic subject, the hidden figure of the photographer, the archivist, the archival researcher and a contemporaneous film viewer, can be made visible or palpable through the audio-visual performance of the photographic sequence. I argue that when these trans-historical relationships become animated, they confront the contemporary viewer with questions of responsibility that pertain to being an on-looker in a situation of radical inequality.
In my consideration of the reception of the photographic sequence, I show that the moving image has the power to continually re-position the viewer in relation to photograph, its subject, and to the past it purports to represent. I argue that this approach offers a potent way of engaging with our collective troubled pasts, and in so doing, models an ethics of remembrance.
Linköping University, Sweden
National Identity and Photography
The paper depicts the inherent curiosity to seek the knowledge as to where we come from. It also expands on rarely seen facets to the outside world, how dislocation affects the creative work produced and what role photography has into the topic of national identity.
We have less freedom of movement today, then in the beginning of the last century. The main motivation behind migration is economic, however the dislocation of a person concerned with so much more other than economic aspects. The question of migration is disparate; it cannot be defined in one single theory. According to Marx, it is largely connected to economic and political issues. (Hernandez, 2015) Personal aspects play a role in Everett Lee’s theorisation, whereby “people will react differently to various combinations of internal and external factors”. (Cited in King, 2012, online)
Displacement illustrates one’s deprivation of culture, equally means new and exciting, a brand new version of one’s identity amongst a whole new set of social and cultural codes. John Berger (1984) writes: “Without a home, everything was fragmentation. [...] but abandoning oneself to the unreal which is the absurd.”(p56-57)
The re-invention of the self can mean a diminishing sense of nationality, therefore identity. This paper is an exploration of displacement and how does this affect self perception and the work produced? How can cultural identity be maintained and developed with a geographical shift that irrevocably shape vision and intellect. I intend to examine specifically how photography operates within this context and what impacts it has.
This research is focusing upon how the artistic identity is transformed by the sense of distance and isolation or freedom and approval. It also embraces objectives such as raising cultural awareness about immigration, globalisation, national identity and pride through the medium of photography.
Visiting Artist and Scholar, University of Oxford
Other Landscapes, Other Lives
Nicola Brandt weaves together divergent genres including landscape, documentary realism, scripted and found stories. In her recent work, Brandt travels through deceitfully beautiful, derelict landscapes in Namibia that contain places of historical violence linked to the German-Herero-Nama War of 1904-1908. The artist, as a Namibian of German-English origins, critically reflects on the difficult issues of representation and the politics of the camera as they pertain to her own artistic practice, especially when attempting to record these sites photographically. She asks what role and what right does she have to engage with these complex legacies of colonialism and how can innovative documentary practices address and critique an aesthetic tradition that is closely linked to the “colonizing camera”.
Image credit/details: Nicola Brandt, Spectre, Namibia, 2013
Olívia Da Silva
Media Arts and Design School, Porto, Portugal
Feelings, Likeness and Place
Feelings, Likeness and Place is about explores the photographic act, objectivity and subjectivity of representation. It is about collaborative project between the photographer and the photographed combines the subjectivity of a moment of pause in a known place of Asprela (At the University Campus of Porto) campus to build a fictional scenario, with the active participation of the individual who agrees to share with the camera the emotions and feelings they have for Asprela (University Campus in Porto City).
For the photographer, documentary photography implies the interaction of knowledge and affection, of the intelligible and sensible. First of all, the image in documentary is esthetics and ethics. These two aspects are inseparable to consider the reflection as a documentarist. Unlike an uncompromising vision and “modeled” of reality, documentary organizes his speech and builds his rhetoric where key relationships must be established between the photographer and the photographed.
The documentary photography works as the testimory of a certain reality and that it refers to the photographers who document, reflect and intervene as well as to show new ways to rethinking the media. Feelings, Likeness and Place is a documentary photography project, is about explores the photographic act, objectivity and subjectivity of representation. It is about collaborative project between the photographer and the photographed combines the subjectivity of a moment of pause in a known place of Asprela (At the University Campus of Porto) campus to build a fictional scenario, with the active articipation of the individual who agrees to share with the camera the emotions and feelings they have for Asprela (University Campus in Porto City). Asprela ‘s located n an old neighborhood with an elderly population and receiving the university center. This work reflects the integration and feelings of same.
Feelings, Likeness and Place represent without doubt the fact that photographic practice in portraiture is essential for the photographer. Through photographic practice opens a set of shares to find a narrative between the photographed and place. Thus the subjects participated in an interesting interplay with the photographer, being the possessors of the emotions, feeling and thoughts, which embodied their image before it was made frozen by the camera. Various social and psychological aspects have been achieved with this contemporary approach through the portraits that result from a continued demand through hotographic practices.
Photographs: Sandra Hasanefendic, Dener Henrique, Mobina Alemi, Joana Lacerda, Daniela Grams, Mates Basic, HugoVaz, Filipe Figueiredo
Is digitisation of the family album influencing cultural memory?
The research sets out to answer whether digitisation of the family album has influenced cultural memory within a family. The research looks at three generations of matriarchs’ construction of their own family albums and its influences on their cultural memories. There is a discussion of identity and identification with regards to the shift to the digital image.
The research methods used were qualitative interviews through the use of photo elicitation. The method was chosen on the basis of the participant being able to take the leading role and direct the interviews so that a less biased analysis and evaluation could take place with regards to effects on cultural memory across generations in one family.
There were definite differences as to how the photo album was presented and constructed and how images were chosen. The first generation participant was very aware of the importance of cultural memory and the ‘artefacts’ that she had in her possession. Whereas the second generation participant had a more haphazard approach to her family album construct. Her notion of the album was more identification as opposed to identity; a fleeting glimpse of memories of her off-springs. Perhaps, time and posterity is needed as in the first generation. The third generation construct were of a different media. They were not physical images but media on a computer, carefully selected almost to create a cultural memory.
Digitisation has had an effect on the construct of the family album and indeed cultural memory. It seems there is more of a cultural identification to previous generations’ albums and the first generation having the age and wisdom to understand the importance of this. The research highlights the need to look further into lineage, age, generation and migration in terms of its correlation with digitisation in order to ascertain the full impact the shift has had on cultural memory.
University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies (ULICES), Portugal
The Nelson Mandela Digital Archive: Image and Text at the Intersection of Memory and Emotion
In 2012 the Google Cultural Institute launched the Nelson Mandela Digital Archive (available at http://archive.nelsonmandela.org), classifying it as “a storytelling platform”. The online archive consists of artifacts, documents and audiovisual materials curated into seven interactive exhibits covering Mandela’s early life, his years in prison, the negotiation for democracy, the presidential years and his retirement. The focus of this paper is the exhibit titled “My Moment with a Legend”, which, unlike the other exhibits, relies on photographs and personal testimonies to produce a narrative of Nelson Mandela’s human and political qualities by juxtaposing photographs of Mandela and the photographed person(s)’ oral and/or written testimonies of the experience of meeting or working with Mandela. Drawing on Paul Ricoeur and Geoffrey Batchen’s narrative and memory theories, I reflect on the intersection between memory, emotion, photography and narrative and examine the role of photographer, photographed person and viewer in narratively constructing an emotional memory of Nelson Mandela’s public life. I wish to argue that the weaving of emotionally charged images and text produces poetic configurations of events of Nelson Mandela’s life and drains the images of political meaning.
Fundação Ciência e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova, Lisbon
Departing from the photographs, research method and publication options
This paper aims do discuss the relation of artistic practices and academic research, evolving a visual historiography that proposes a theory of memory of the D. Maria II Theater in Lisbon, Portugal in the form of a book.
In the early hours of 2 December 1964 a violent fire destroyed the interior of the theater D. Maria II. The reconstruction works lasted fourteen years and when 'new' theater opened, in November 1978, was inaugurated by the political regime that emerged from the revolution of 25th April 1974, which reinstall democracy. Thus this ‘new’ theater was the ultimate example of architectural 'historicism' a facet that guided the Portuguese fascist regime monuments since the late 1930s.
Starting from this tragic event, that instigates and cohabits the argument, the investigation rescued diverse genres and types of photographs of different historical times, from various archives. In particularly photographs of the estate of the photographer José Marques, recently acquired by theater. Together with new photographs, shoot during the course of the project, a visual essay blend the 'new' and the 'other' theater using the fire as the start and the closing moment.
However this visual theory refuses to create an inventory or a summary, of dates and events, which could place the photographs as illustrations of the argument. Does not intended to illustrate the theater as exists today, or rebuild the one who disappeared consumed by fire in December 1964. The photographs unveil and confront micro-stories, issues, facts and events attempting to create a historiography that intersects and confronts its documentary role projecting an allegorical hypothesis.
Using Benjamin’s arcades as reference, a booklet in the format of a pullout holds the photographs subtitles and text – interviews with actors, quotations and other information. Each photograph refers to other or others linking events and places. The (re) construction of this mnemonic edifice is up to the reader / viewer, depends on its degree of interest on the matter.
Priscila Vieira e Souza
Birkbeck, University of London
“The Witch Doctor”: unveiling the relation between Protestants and images in Brazil
This paper presents “The Witch Doctor”: a diafilm (slides plus script) made in the Amazon forest; a production of Brazilian Protestants in the middle of the 20th century; a sample of the (controversial) relation between images and Protestants. The diafilm reveals an interesting understanding on photograph technique: for Brazilian Protestants from the 1950’s, a photograph was the only image capable of picturing the real. Curiosly, “The Witch Doctor” also brings us (as a character of the story) a Canadian missionary and Anthropologist responsible for a detailed description of the Yanomamis life, culture and population mobility.
CAVE’s Archive – Methodist Memory Centre
‘The Witch Doctor’ is an English translation (made by the author of the script) of ‘Pajé’: a spiritual leader of a native Brazilian group who possess healing powers. Composed by photographs, the 74 frames tell us the story of a Pajé from the Northern side of the Amazon River who became a Christian. The Pajé himself ‘acted’ in the pictures: it is a first person narrative.
This diafilm is part of the Evangelical Audio Visual Centre (CAVE) archives. Cave was an agency that produced religious media between the 1950s-1960s in Brazil. This is the first research conducted in CAVE’s archives and it covered both institutional documents (reports, letters, statutes, folders) and material associated with audio-visual productions (slides, prints, pictures, scripts). ‘The Witch Doctor’ is the most complete product found in the archive: it has the whole slide’s set; the script; letters (from the producer; from the writer; from the missionary/ anthropologist); and previous versions of the script. Therefore, “The Witch Doctor” tells us multiple histories about its own production context. Furthermore, it unveils how the Protestant producers dealt with images in general and with photography in particular.
Department of Political and Social Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin
Imaging Crisis: Photography and the Representation of Natural Disasters.
This paper explores how photographs of natural disasters undergo global distribution as iconographic motifs and influence the public’s perception of these events. The visualization of natural disasters is one of the most significant parameters by which the perception of hazards and risk are socially constructed. During the last two decades, mostly due to media coverage, awareness of natural disasters has been growing worldwide. Currently discourses around natural disasters are overlapping with those around climate change. The impact of this media coverage has produced distinct changes in the perception of natural disasters. The increasing circulation of the images transforms the processes of interpretation and elaboration both during and after a catastrophe. Nationally and internationally, images are becoming a set of repertoires to glean from – topoi that form a collective imaginary of catastrophes. Building on a historical selection of natural disasters visualization and the global media flow of images depicting major international catastrophes, from the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami to the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake, this paper discusses how the global spreading of common iconographic motifs generate processes of semantic synthesis and the designation of political responsibility.
School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London
Photography and Self-Representation at the Margins
This paper is an overview of my doctoral research (in progress) which explores the relationship between photographic self-representation and the construction of identities and citizenship in a marginal space in Lima, Peru.
From 1986 to 1998, a group of residents from El Agustino took part in a participatory photography project called TAFOS (Talleres de Fotografía Social). The aim of this project was twofold, to create a channel of communication between local people and to promote community participation. These amateur photographers used film cameras to register different aspects of everyday life in their community.
I argue that these photographs were articulating institutional and discursive practices in El Agustino, and creating a visual narrative that could allow local people to re-imagine aspects of cultural identity, social relations, and citizenship, amongst others. At the same time, these images were regulating both subjectivities and bodies through a vision of what the photographer perceived as an ideal society.
Journalism and Mass Communication Department
American University in Cairo
Parallax Error: Paradigms of Photographic Image Censorship in Egypt
This article sets out to examine the intersection between dominate Western histories of art and Arab visual cultural sensibilities read through a series of found images in photographic books in Cairo. The images come from various popular photographic compendium publications available across the world. However in Egypt they are subject to a state run censorship process, similar to other Muslim countries, as a governmental body monitors image distribution. In Egypt, all such publications must be approved before sale by the governmental organization, The Censorship of Creative Arts (Al Riqqaba Ala El Musanafat El Fanneya), who adjust materials ahead of general public consumption. The process involves hand painting each photographic image in each book edition to conceal parts of the human figure that could be considered ill suited to Egyptian society. This research article proposes that these doctored photographic images, the byproduct of the government directed censorship process, question the ideological role of intervention on the image surface. Moreover, this local governmental agency operates within a rapidly changing globalized image paradigm where such interruptions are fundamental political acts. The article employs the writings of French philosopher Jacques Rancière on what is permissible to examine the intersection and surface tension created between the censor action and the original photographic works. This rethinks the cultural encounter and explores notions of collaboration through image production.
Minerva Humanities Center, Tel Aviv University
Citizens' photography as knowledge production: a comparison
This paper, while focusing on "citizens' photography," offers a dialogue between social research and other fields of knowledge that are engaged with photography, both creatively and critically. In the last two decades, ordinary people are photographing and filming events and circulating the images as public concerns. In that way, citizens actually participate in forming knowledge of the public sphere through photography. This transformation in knowledge production is due to technological developments, yet it is also celebrated, I will argue, as a socio-political neo-liberal tendency. By comparing the role of citizens' photography in three fields of knowledge were production of knowledge is usually preserved to experts like in media, human rights, and social science, I strive to understand the nature of citizens' photography and why it is so much widespread other than the accessible technology. Thus, in the presentation I will ask: What kind of knowledge does citizens' photography deliver? What are the mechanisms and norms of this mode of knowledge production in the different fields?
Sabine El Chamaa
Lebanese American University
This does not look like war
“Are you purposefully hiding the atrocities? This is outrageous! People in your photographs look relaxed!” The interlocutor in question had just seen a display of photographs I took of displaced refugees whose neighbourhoods had been targeted by Israeli air raids during the July 2006 war on Lebanon. Photographing people who refused the camera lens the privacy of pain was deemed inacceptable. I had a body of images of war without war. Photographs had to exist as documentation, as proof, and as a record of the proximity to death that demanded blood as proof of truthfulness and of the reality of war. An inherent (mis)conception of what counts as ‘the real in war’ disallows different photographs of war to be recognized as such. But war is not a photograph, nor were my photographs meant to be representative of the complex multiplicities of (told and untold) experiences accumulated during that war. Existing images of war as a spectacle of suffering manufacture expectations of what a social reality of war should look like. The recognition of a partial and mediated reality becomes dependent on its recognition within a dominant image. In this context to be realistic, to represent truthfully a war meant following prescribed “how to do’s”: hand-held cameras of photos taken on the run amidst screams, cries, and destitution. A reality once fixed within a photographic representation that becomes the referent to the topic of war in the ‘Arab world’.
California State University, San Bernardino
Men Want to Be Looked At: A Look at the Male Nude in Western Photography
Responding to the politics of photography+(con)text and the social life of photographs, the interchanging of the male gaze and the new female gaze has influenced how men, both heterosexual and homosexual, see themselves as objects of desire--especially depicted in popular culture. If the male nude in photography were as commonly accepted as the female nude, would our culturally constructed gaze become more comfortable with him?
When most people think of the word “nude” in art, they think of the female nude. For nearly two thousand years, the male nude overshadowed the female nude since Greek antiquity. The beauty of the male body was honored and shown with pride and confidence until the 19th century when the male nude faded and the female nude became the central focus in art.
Today, the male nude is mostly associated with homoeroticism. In this paper, I will examine the male nude in Western photography through my research on Herb Ritts’ Tony with Shadow 1988, and Horst P. Horst’s Male Nude (frontal, sitting) 1952, as well as my own photographic exploration in order to discover the changes in “the gazes” that may be leading to a transformation of the heterosexual toward the male nude.
Slade School of Fine Art, University College London
Derry Camerawork: Documentary and Lived Reality in the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’
This paper investigates the archive of Derry Camerawork - a community photography project that ran from 1982 to 1992 in the city of Derry~Londonderry. By 1982 Derry had become one of the most photographed cities in Europe. The birthplace of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’, Derry had endured the Battle of the Bogside, internment without trial, Bloody Sunday and Operation Motorman. Yet British media representations were subject to increasing censorship and perpetuated a consensus that affirmed social order while portraying the nationalist community as terroristic. Derry Camerawork was initiated by local young people -predominantly working class women from both communities- who wished to counter the dominant stereotypical representations of their city in the British mainstream press. Camerawork began documenting Derry in the immediate aftermath of the 1981 Hunger Strikes and includes pictures of Republican funerals, Unionist parades, protests and riots, and the confrontation between the nationalist community and the British Army. Comprising over 30,000 images, the (recently digitised) archive also provides unique insight into the political and social reality of life in the last decade of the Troubles. The archive is significant not merely as historic documentation, but as the output of a divided community whose lived experience of the Troubles far outweighs the transitory encounters of visiting photojournalists. In Free Derry, Camerawork informed, empowered and liberated its members; collectively they embraced freedom of speech and freedom of expression. This community photography project will be examined with particular regard to how ‘amateur’ representations of everyday life can challenge dominant media consensus.
Institute of Education, University College London
Making wealth speak – photography as a critique of neoliberalism
Social policy was brought into being as a way of managing ‘the poor’. Through its transition from the ‘Vagabonds and Vagrants Acts’ of the 1400s to the social mobility commitments of The Coalition, the substantive focus has been on disciplining and regulating ‘the poor’. The poor have been identified as the problem, the exiled, the outsiders, whose re-integration has been facilitated through diverse ‘technologies of power’ (the workhouse, the ‘dole’, job-seekers’ allowance inter alia).
This Foucauldian analysis of social policy, looks at how photographic images of poverty can entrench or challenge policy ‘objects’ (the deserving and undeserving poor, for example). It looks to introduce a new concept – visual interpellation – to individuate the particular way that images help to make certain identities possible, and the way in which they can be used to suggest metonymic relationships between individual images and whole social groups/ classes.
New critical photographers who engage explicitly with neoliberalism and attempt to make it speak, effectively mobilise photography as critique. They are focusing on wealth and the wealthy, and on the geographies of wealth (tax havens) to either explicitly or implicitly critique the extreme wealth accumulation that characterises neoliberal states.
This paper combines images with analysis to position critical photography as a discrete form of social critique that can be mobilised in fields such as policy sociology to provide new insights into contemporary policy subjects and objects.
School of Ecology and Environment Studies, Nalanda University, Rajgir, India
Socio-environmental and photographic survey of the forest edge mountain hamlets situated in the Eastern Himalayas
Eastern Himalayan zone has major contributions in maintaining climatic and ecological balance in the Indian Subcontinent with their forests areas and watersheds. Many scattered hamlets (Lava, Rishop, Chatakpur, Sillery Gaon, Yaksom etc.) are found in this zone and some of them are proximate to the biodiversity rich forests like Neora Valley National Park, Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary, Kanchenjunga National Park etc. A detailed survey was conducted in different forest edge hamlets of Eastern Himalayas between 2012 and 2016. Surveys on the demography, agriculture, livestock management, water management, education, culture, health, transport, waste management, disaster management, biodiversity, joint forest management, non-timber forest product usage and human animal conflict were done in this area. Topographic map of the area was prepared by using the database of National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organization (NATMO). Photographic documentation was done in every phase of the survey work. Photographs were taken (landscapes, wildlife, portraits and architectures), analyzed and interpreted in light of the survey data collected from the area. In spite of being positioned in a diverse and sensitive ecological zone, the hamlets are not adequately managed. There is an urgent need for implementing sustainable management systems in the areas for the betterment of the socio-environmental structures. Some of the possible management policies were suggested for maintaining the social, environmental, economic and ecological balance of the region.
Artist based in Berlin, Germany
What does Big Brother see, while he is watching? Deciphering surveillance through the images it creates.
Over the course of three years, I was able to research at the archive left by East Germany’s notorious secret police Stasi in search of visual memories of Big Broth- er. I would like to address images I found at this and other archives and discuss the way they can reveal inconvenient stories.
Our deep rooted fear of surveillance comes in part from a visual nature, surveil- lance seems to have. It might be the case that the Orwellian Big Brother is listening to our conversations, the really scary aspect nevertheless seems to be the fact that he might be able to watch us. But unfortunately there is very little visual material available that could help our understanding of the nature of surveillance in this regard.
Over the course of three years, I was able to do some in depth research at the ar- chive left by East Germany’s notorious secret police Stasi in search of visual mem- ories of Big Brother. During the same period, I tried to get access to similar mate- rial from West German archives, and the fact that I got almost no results from this side is almost as telling as the material, I was able to nd in the Stasi archives. I would like to show a selection of images I did nd at both archives and try to explain the insights I got through access to these images and the way these documents reveal stories written texts sometime manage to hide.
Sofía Natalia González-Ayala
Group of Afro-Colombian Studies – National University of Colombia
(In)visibility and visual documentation: the social life of images and names of Afro-Colombians at the National Museum of Colombia
In the paper I will present the visual methodology that I employed in my PhD, an ethnography of the National Museum of Colombia, focused on the major exhibition Velorios y santos vivos [Wakes and living saints] (2008) and its travelling version (2009-2014), which portrayed Afro-Colombian funerary rituals and patron saints devotions using an extensive photographic and videographic archive, of which I was one of the producers. During my PhD fieldwork and writing up period (2012-5), I followed the exhibition as it circulated in webpages, books, banners and DVDs, and approached it using Halpern’s (2014) notion of ‘visibilities’ as accumulations, densities, sites of production, apparatuses and spaces that, in this case, included ‘voids,’ ‘silence,’ misrepresentions, stereotypes and absence.
Capturing screenshots became the means to visually document, present, and analyse these accumulations, which included myself and other local anthropologists as Colombian, non-Afro, visual documentarists. The distinctions between who was able to document, was documented, and was acknowledged for documenting, enact the positions that Afro-Colombians, non-Afro local anthropologists, Museum staff and the National Museum occupy in structural hierarchies of geography, knowledge and race in Colombia. I thus disassembled exhibition Velorios to analyse how ‘Afro-Colombian, Black, Raizal and Palenquero communities’ were given to be seen in its different versions, reinforcing a stereotype of Afro-Colombians as exotic ‘others’ in the multicultural Colombian nation, while offering tools for the legitimization of anti-racist agendas.
Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dublin
To a Presence in Absence
To a Presence in Absence is an examination of the photographs of the ancient world by Herbert List and Joel Sternfeld via the writings of Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida. In this essay I explore the desire to capture and commune with the ancient pasts of Greece and Rome through photography and philosophy.
Practitioners of photography seeking to record the past are faced with the physical barriers of place and time as photographers can only record what is before the lens. However, when a photographer insists on photographing and engaging with the past - that which cannot exist before the lens - then the endeavour would seem quixotic as the past cannot be the ruins of a fallen temple.
In investigating the attempts to capture the past photographically I concentrate on two major works by photographers Herbert List and Joel Sternfeld. While List's and Sternfeld's seminal works Licht Über Hellas and Campagna Romana are principally cited, they should be seen in broader, more inclusive terms; emblematic of a great many other photobooks in existence. I examine the effectiveness of their presentation and re-presentation of the past and seek to understand the reasons for their perceived success, or lack of against the writings and explorations of antiquity by philosophers Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida. The fundamental question is how it is possible to successfully engage with a location that, in the words of Derrida, 'belongs neither to the voice nor to writing' as it exists 'between speech and writing'.
Teri F. Brewer
The Kumeyaay Land and Values Project (Recuerdos Research)
Back in Time, Back in Context: The Visual Ethnography of Constance Goddard DuBois
This paper explores challenges in the adaptive reuse of early ethnographic photography as an asset in digital video projects using archival holdings from the work of ethnographer Constance Goddard DuBois (1869 -1934) as a case study in the recovery of intent and context. Goddard worked with small American Indian communities in the southern California back country over a period of about 10 years from 1899. Her field notes and photography reveal a much broader enquiry than hermits of her published work indicates, as well as giving a better sense of the lives of her hosts and her relationship with and concerns for the lives of families and individuals in these communities. The challenges of recovering context for early ethnographic photography are discussed here.
Constance Goddard DuBois (1869-1934) was an early 20th Century ethnographer and novelist who worked amongst American Indian communities in southern California between about 1899 and 1910, documenting their traditions, but also the very difficult circumstances of their lives at that time as she sought to bring these to the attention of politicians and the public nationally.
She was a thoughtful and prolific photographer who candidly documented general living conditions as well as capturing individuals, landscapes and activities in several Kumeyaay (Diegueno) communities in the San Diego back country of Southern California in particular. The separation of her field notes and correspondence from her photographic records and sound recordings after her death obscured some of the information in her photographs for later researchers, but a recent digitisation project and collaboration between museums, archives and the Kumeyaay themselves are now restoring context for an important but under-utilised and little understood collection.
Some of the issues encountered in work with the DuBois collections are representative of challenges facing work with other historic visual archives and field research materials, for a range of purposes but in this paper issues referenced are discussed in relation to the use of historic ethnographic photography in developing digital video projects,
UiB Global, University of Bergen, Norway
Photographic ambiguity and academic knowledge
My road to visual anthropology has been through my initial training and work as an art photographer. Hence, my art-background has constituted a position from where to challenge underlying presumptions within visual anthropology while, at the same time, insisting on a re-immersion of the visual into anthropology to counter the marginal position of the visual in ‘mainstream’ anthropological texts. Drawing on my methodological use of still photography in anthropological research I will, in this paper, situate my discussion in what I understand as tension between what the photographic image is and can do and what the academic field continues to require of visual representations in order to be scientific (enough). Based on the photographic series Evocative Encounters from Tigray, Ethiopia, and which I have utilised in my own anthropological research, the question that will be addressed in this paper is concerned with what role photography can play in social research if ambiguity – resulting from photographic images being situated in the tension between description and an expressiveness that evokes imagination – is approached as the most potent aspect of photographic representation.
Department of Intercultural Communication and Management
Copenhagen Business School
Insurrection: Visual Transgression of Verbal Hegemony in the advertising works of Eiko Ishioka
This paper examines the photographic advertising works of Japanese art director Eiko Ishioka. Observing the linguistic and visual strategies, the paper explores and analyses insurrectionsbetween visual and verbal representation.
According to Barthes, images may indicate multiple meanings as well as interpretations. Images are often used with text, which functions to fix the meaning of the image to an extent as anchorage. Despite anchorage effects, insurrection of the visual against the verbal does occur as this study demonstrates. The study concerns the when, how, and why of insurrection as it arises through an examination of the photographic advertising works of art director Eiko Ishioka. I argue that one of the critical factors of Ishioka’s international acclaim was her excess and transgression of the visual, which crosses linguistic borders. This paper is the first of a series, which will next study two photographers, Takuma Nakahire and Seiji Kurata.
University of Warsaw
Exploring The Role of Photographs in Managing Experimental Anthropology Projects
The aim of the Cargo/(im)materiality exhibition was to trace the enmeshed nexus of social relationships involving both human and non-human agents mediated by material objects (Gell 1998: 7, Cichocki, Plinska 2016: forthcoming). One part of the exhibition called The Grey Zone was prepared in collaboration with anthropologist and documentary photographer Marek M. Berezowski.
The Grey Zone was located at the lower corridor of the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw, in the nearest vicinity of the most prominent government buildings. In the past, the corridor used to serve as a military canteen, and then it was rearranged for a student buffet (in 2014 already closed) and a cloakroom. The final shape of the exhibition illustrated some of the findings drawing from the collectively undertaken research on the so-called East European grey zones (Knudsen and Frederikssen 2015). The phenomenon in question was approached as a metaphor of collective resistance against the domination of global market economy. The exhibition was inspired by the methodological approach called ethnographic conceptualism proposed by Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov (Ssorin-Chaikov 2013, Plińska 2012). Its main goal was therefore to open up a space for discussion. While being located at the lower corridor of the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, The Grey Zone was co-hosted by those University of Warsaw employees whose daily, physical labor of cleaning the surfaces and maintaining devices and installations guarantees daily functioning of the institution.
Contributors: Marek M. Berezowski, Julia Drąg, Teresa Kutkowska, Oskar Lubiński, Anton Nikolotov, Małgorzata Panasiuk, Weronika Plińska, Tamara Sawko, Magdalena Światłoń, Julia Szawiel, Patryk Zakrzewski.
Universität Bern, Switzerland
Documenting a Peripatetic Economic Culture: My Street Economics
The use of visual inquiry has become progressively widespread throughout the Humanities. In adopting visual data as material for conversations on social reality, My Street Economics (an on-going project), explores everyday lives of the "supposed" majority who live under a USD a day.
The indices of poverty happen to be multi-dimensional and extremely relative therefore what I strive to achieve with this project is a balanced, (hopefully) two dimensional reportage accompanied with text from brief interviews with characters who economists, social scientists and the likes have labelled as "poor". The focal point of this project lies in the self- identification of the individuals within the socio-economic settings of their various societies in comparison to scientific indexes that represent their social statuses. As it were, a majority of the situations/ moments I shot were of women, up and about with healthy doses of determinism to make daily income from trading, crushing stones, and cooking in the open with no form of shelter. In speaking to some of these women, My Street Economics came into being; faces and capsules of stories. As Douglas Harper writes “I used photographs in several different ways: to document history; to elicit interviews; and to make arguments about social change” (“Framing Photographic Ethnography” 245). My paper presents my own work and its accompanying questions; How far can photography go in eliciting any kind of change? What is the level of involvement required of a researcher in stimulating any change(s)?