Visual Discourse As Viscourse: Conventions, Critics, and Chances Challenging the Analysis of Media Visuals in Media Discourse Practises

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 13 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Eva FLICKER, University of Vienna, Austria
The paper is embedded in a research project on media representation of top elites in international politics as well as the visualisation of power, gender, fashion, and the body. The visual data consist of countless samples of media pictures/images/photographs that are spread by international media agencies. These photographs are recurrent and dominant elements of daily news. In journalist jargon, pictures documenting international summits of politicians are often referred to as “family photos”. These “images of power” achieve almost “iconic status”. While in former times, they were a side effect of political events, nowadays they play a central role in political programmes. Their diplomatic protocol is strictly regulated, every position is determined by function and hierarchy, and the politicians stand as representatives of their nations and sovereign states. The significance of these rituals and visuals should not be underestimated; they are undeniably historical documents and represent a narration on hegemonic masculinity and power. As part of the symbolic communication in politics, these pictures offer strong prelinguistic narration.

With text as well as photos different messages can be communicated simultaniously: relationship and tensions. The evaluation of this material demands different methods and but also specific methodological groundings and raises questions such as:  Which effect does the viscourse of these photos have? How are they related to language and text? In what relation can they be seen to discourse of gender equality? The competition of attraction between rational linguistic arguments and affectual visuals may cause very ambivalent effects: intensification, contrasts, contradictions, reassurance etc.

Two different types of photos will be presented in the paper: a) official and static group pictures of political top events and b) event photos of meetings and encounters out of motion – both types give examples for the challenges for methodological approaches.