Advancing Alternative Views. Steps Towards More Expressive, Experimental and Experiential Forms of Visual Social Science.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:55
Location: Hörsaal 13 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Luc PAUWELS, University of Antwerp, Belgium
An emerging practice in many venues, ‘expressive’ scholarly products (such as the photo essay), received relatively little explicit scholarly attention. As a result individuals seeking to create such a potentially exciting products are largely left out in the cold with respect to: how to select/produce and combine images, 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 unreceptive or dismissive towards approaches that are implicit rather than explicit and that use expressive means other than words and numbers to convey insights. This presentation will argue that social science should open itself to more experimental, expressive and experiential forms of data production and communication. It will try to come up with a clear sketch of what is at stake, what impediments are on the way and how they can be tackled concretely. A ‘visual’ social science worthy of that name should not only try to investigate or deconstruct the image, but also try to become ‘more visual’ (Henny, 1986) or actually ‘multimodal’ in its way of ‘communicating’ its findings and insights. The challenge of the visually expressive scholarly products, therefore, is to exploit - but at the same time try to surpass - the purely mimetic qualities of the visual and to enable a level of insight that manages to exceed the immediate and particularistic in favor of a more generalizable type of multimodal experience and knowledge.