The Versatile Image: Photography in the Era of Web 2.0

The Versatile Image: Photography in the Era of Web 2.0

University of Sunderland are calling for papers that deal with the implications of the ‘digital revolution’ and the upsurge of new photographic practices like photo-sharing sites, social networking, and ‘citizen photography’ to concepts of what constitutes the photographic.

Call for Papers:

The 21st century digital universe is undoubtedly a “hypervisual” environment with photographic images dominating every aspect of our life. The “digital revolution”, as professed with awe and skepticism some twenty years ago, has come to stay, and, together with the developments in mobile-phone technology and the overwhelming possibilities that Web 2.0 has to offer, has ushered in a rapid transformation of photographic practice across the board.

Far from being “over”, as was the central hypothesis in a recent conference about the current state of the art, photography, a slippery medium by definition, has expanded, transgressing anew set boundaries between media and disciplines, practices and functions. In this “expanded” (and still expanding) field, what has been most appositely called “Photography 2.0” has revolutionized image making. Being more ubiquitous and accessible, some say even “democratic”, than ever, the new photographic technology, paired with micro-publishing platforms and social networking media, has introduced a whole different culture of producing and consuming photographs. It is the diverse manifestations of this new and significantly larger in scale second phase of photography’s so-called “democratization” that this conference endeavours to examine.

Are these developments purely a case of technological expediency? What are the ontological, conceptual or other commonalities and/or differences with photography as we knew it? What novel currency does the photographic vernacular acquire against the new contexts of viewing and (re)distribution that social networking media and photo-sharing platforms offer? Where is the line between the private and the public drawn and what is the social currency of such private imagery? What is the new urgency that the eye-witness record taken by “citizen journalists” has acquired in reporting news events among peers and targeting a wider public? And thus, how are issues of objectivity, subjectivity, authenticity and originality of the document being challenged anew? How can this predominantly non-art imagery be appropriated in material and conceptual terms in contemporary art practices? Can these amateur practices be conventionalized and/or institutionalized in the mass media and the art scene?

This conference aims to locate the main areas of contemporary scholarship on the topic in the wider area of humanities, from art history, visual culture studies and museology, to media studies, visual anthropology and sociology, and identify new avenues of research in this rapidly evolving field. Therefore, we welcome papers from scholars, postgraduate students and researchers as well as practitioners in the aforementioned areas.

Please send abstracts of ca. 250 words for twenty-minute papers to with the indication The Versatile Image by 30 November 2010.

Date: 24-26 June 2011
Location: University of Sunderland
School of Art, Design and Media,
Organized by: Dr Alexandra Moschovi and Dr Carol McKay

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