Visual Research in the Post-Post-Ism Age: Genealogical Considerations

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Regev NATHANSOHN, University of Haifa, Israel
What could the genealogy of visual research contribute to contemporary debates on crises of representation, on post-truth and on other post-post-isms? By identifying several positions in the history of visual research (from visual anthropology, to visual sociology and visual culture), this paper will offer a relevant research agenda for our time. This agenda will identify the contemporary interplay between the desire for truthful and authentic representations of reality, which historically pushed for the development of the Camera Obscura, and the constant doubt, embedded in the tradition of critical thinking, which has always accompanied the desire for and production of truth. The theoretical and cross-disciplinary exploration will depart from discussing the photographs taken by August Sander and analyzed by John Berger, to those taken and analyzed by Claude Lévi-Strauss, Gregory Bateson & Margaret Mead, to new interpretations and re-appropriations of the photos of Native Americans taken by Edward Curtis, and to research on image-and-meaning-making in the digital age. Such exploration would be a fertile ground for elaborating on contemporary debates, ranging from participatory research to visually-based algorithms (such as face recognition), and on their political ramifications. I will then outline a number of epistemological and ethical considerations for contemporary visual research in the social sciences, with particular emphasis on research related to social justice issues. Returning to the basic truths of image-and-meaning-making in the post-truth age would be able to remove part of the post-post-ism's smoke screen and strengthen the contribution of visual researchers in current public and academic debates, in critical and challenging ways.