Framing the frame: visible issues and the issue of visibility in a virtual research exhibition
Shireen Walton (University College London)
Paper short abstract:
This paper discusses the potentials and challenges of using a participatory exhibition as a method of research. It discusses relevant issues of visibility and framing in relation to a virtual research exhibition of Iranian photo - blogs.
Paper long abstract:
The predicament of any framed environment involves heightened visibility. Self - representational digital platforms such as photography - based blogs and amateur photographic exhibition sites are no exception and provide salient digital - visual narrative data for the digital anthropologist to collate and interpret. Moving beyond the study of existing sites, this paper discusses how a participatory digital exhibition via a web 2.0 platform can be employed as a befitting tool in contemporary research of popular digital self - representational practices. A participatory exhibition can help distil a research project, gather participants in a delimited space of collaborative engagement and dedicate itself to the elicitation and dissemination of anthropological knowledge. But how does becoming part of academic research in an online environment affect the status, visibility and publics of participants and their practices? What are the narrative implications of displacing images from their original contexts, where they belong to specific epistemic contexts and kinetic digital - visual systems and placing them within a framework of research? How can the ensuing blend of emic and etic narrations between researcher and subject be appropriately moderated? The paper discusses these questions with regards to a virtual participatory research exhibition of Iranian photo - blogs, which showcases a range of digital photographs by a group of Iranian photo - bloggers. It suggests how innovative visual and digital methods can aid the anthropologist in 'representing' self - representing subjects by engaging the collaborative potentials of participatory action research.
Participatory visual and digital research in anthropology: engagement and innovation