Anthropology and Photography 2014 (1)

British Museum, Clore Centre, 29-31 May 2014

(P26)

Anthropology of social networking: growing visuality of digital cultures and meanings conveyed by SNS images

Location Anthropology Library
Date and Start Time 31 May, 2014 at 09:00

Convenors

Eugenia Kuznetsova (Deusto University)  email
Alexander Ronzhyn (University of Deusto)  email
 Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

The proposed panel aims to bring together the topics dealing with social and cultural meanings of photographs published in a variety of social networks: from local, national networks to global networks like thoroughly visual Instagram or mostly visual Facebook.

Long Abstract

The recent trends in digital culture prove that digital world of today tends to rely on visual images rather than on the text. The function of photography is being transformed as it becomes the basic mean of self-expression on many social networking sites. Through this panel, we hope to demonstrate that photography in social networks is not just the anthropological source of information about everyday life, society and culture, but it became the embodiment of people's desires, composing a perfect collective portrait of a contemporary young person as he or she wants to be seen by others. The most active SNS users, young people visualize their desired standards of life, creating a live database for the investigation by social and cultural anthropologists. Cultural differences in values and lifestyle can be researched through national social networks (e.g. vkontakte.ru in Russia or tuenti.es in Spain). Instagram, an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service launched in 2010, serves as a perfect illustration of growing visuality in digital cultures (Lister, 2013). It is also a showcase of transforming function of photography: how certain lifestyles, roles or images are being promoted through images published on Instagram. We hope for paper proposals that would deal with the phenomenon of image-sharing in the Internet social networks.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Romanticizing and transforming the urban space through visual social networks: representations of the city scape in Instagram

Author: Eugenia Kuznetsova (Deusto University) email

Short Abstract

The proposed paper deals with visual social networking and representations of cityscape. The central question is when a regular social networking activity develops into a work of art.

Long Abstract

Visual expression became accessible to everyone who has got a smartphone. People convey their own visions of reality with the help of casual mobile photography and the capability to share these visions with thousands of other people makes photography the primarily social activity. This phenomenon is researched using the example of city space representations in the Instagram. Instagram social network is a perfect illustration of how the shots of everyday life acquire the artistic value, how cityscape is being perceived by ordinary people and what aesthetics has urban space in modern world. Navigating the hashtags of Instagram I investigate how users from different parts of the world see the urban environment and how they transform their phone photos with the help of popular filters and effects into a piece of art that represents the interaction of the urban dweller with the city, dramatizing and romanticizing the urban space.

Social Travelling: New Connected Mobility

Author: Alexander Ronzhyn (University of Deusto) email

Short Abstract

In the highly connected world of today, social networks led to the rise of the phenomenon of social travel, when a traveller is always connected to the other travellers, sharing the images, ideas and experiences. The implications of this new way of travelling are the topic of the paper.

Long Abstract

The ubiquity of social networks led to the rise of the phenomenon of social travel, when a traveller no matter how far he or she has gone is always connected to the other travellers, sharing the experiences and perspectives (primarily visual ones). This resulted in the transformation of travelling: rather than existing as a process with clear starting and end points (and destination), it has become a continuous process transcending the everyday activity of millions of people and resonating in the lives of their connected peers. It has become a competition, a mean of receiving gratification and acknowledgement from the public. The acknowledgements may take many forms: from badges, achievements and rewards on special travel sites to rewards for checking-in in different places on Foursquare or less direct encouragement of likes on Facebook, Instagram and reposts on Tumblr. The implications of this new way of travelling with a particular accent on the visual component of travel-sharing are the topic of the proposed paper.

Being older on SNS: online photographic practices of 50 plus demographics

Author: Anna Kurpaska (King's College London) email

Short Abstract

The paper examines the relationship between affordances of digital technologies and photographic practices of older (50 plus) demographics on popular social networking sites.

Long Abstract

Older demographics become increasingly active and visible on SNS despite the fact that social media are dominated by young users, who contribute the majority of personal images currently shared online. Treating personal photography as a performative practice (see Larsen 2005), the proposed paper explores the social and cultural meanings of personal photographic practices, in particular photographic self-presentations, of older (50 plus) demographics within the context of the online sphere. The paper aims to critically examine the ways in which these older subjects use personal photographs as a part of their profiles on different social media sites (e.g. Facebook vs. Flickr), paying particular attention not only to transformations and continuities of personal photography and the photographic subject in the digital age in comparison to their earlier analogue forms but also taking into account the shifting socio-cultural norms that dictate acceptable ways of self-presentation and public participation of ageing people.

Linking understanding of photography as technology with its semiotic reading and exploring the relationship between affordances of digital technologies and current photographic practices of older demographics on social media, the paper aims to assess how new technologies are changing the social scripts, or 'cultural messages' (Crawley et al. 2007) for how individuals can represent themselves in public spaces. Particularly, it questions whether the emergent digital technologies and the Internet viewed as a social setting provide individuals with means for construction of personal, and ultimately societal, discursive practices for formation of sociality and collective and individual identity.

The Power of Existence: Instagram as an Representation of Self-Presentation

Author: Ozan Yavuz (Yildiz Technical University) email

Short Abstract

Is instagram a second Kodak case? What is the magic of this “reinvented” technique in terms of its impact on the masses beyond it is similarities with Kodak? Is it revealing a passion to a utopian world which demolishes the positivist effects of the photography ?

Long Abstract

In this study, I aim to examine, the effects of instagram on photography, representation of self-presentation, popular culture and virtual community with both historical and contemporary senses in addition to these questions in varied contexts. I will explore individual expression, individual existince and the view of mass culture to the art and the straight photograghy by utilizing instagram user's opinions with the help of survey analysis. In this sense, the instagram users of Turkey, who lives in the synthesis of European and Asian cultures, will be my role model. Thus, I will not only compare the instagram and the practice of photography theoretically, but also explore the attitudes of the geographically and culturally defined society.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.