Disobedient Imagery: How new media, digital image technology, and algorithms redefine photographic truth in the public and virtual spheres of the 21st century

Project: Research project

Project Details


This research project examines the technological development of photographic imagery in public domains and the virtual sphere in the 21st century by establishing, developing, conceptualizing, and theorizing the notion of ‘disobedient imagery’. Imagining technology is pervasive in our everyday life: facial recognition detects human happiness, thermal and infrared imaging examines people’s physical wellbeing while neural and networked images generated by artificial intelligence such as deepfake and adversarial image constructs new and misguiding identity features and disinformation. New image technologies have been employed as communication tools in the cultural production of civil disobedience movements worldwide. In the past decade, we witnessed the rise of citizen-photojournalism and the uses of livestream videos, geotagged photographic data, forensic architecture and photographic imageries as part of civil protest cultures, which also employed virtual and augmented reality formats and internet memes as a means of public opinion making and political persuasion. The advancement and popularization of image technology have started to deconstruct perceptions of truthfulness, meaning and integrity of photographic imagery related to the detection and documentation of social and political realities, which have led to a paradigm shift in discourse and radical redefinition of the relationship between truth, meaning, and visual culture. In the 21st century, new media, digital technology, and algorithms transform human and machine perceptions of photographic truth that subvert canonical thinking in the history and theory of photography, also reshaping the practice of photography detaching it from its 20th century foundation. Artistic and scholarly research in this complex subject matter will generate new definitions of photography in the 21st century that will do full justice to its role in the expanded field of media studies, visual journalism, and the visual and media arts. The project develops the concept of ‘disobedient imagery’ to map, analyze, and theorize visual culture resulting from instances of civil disobedience that includes reportage photography, social documentary, internet memes, virtual reality captures, augmented reality, operative, and adversarial imageries. By conducting qualitative research methods through the employment of media ethnography and netnography approaches, and by carefully contextualizing ‘disobedient imagery’ in the theoretical framework, the project produces new approaches to the meanings, operations, and functions of photographic imageries and offers a significant contribution to post-photographic academic discourse. Research outputs include (i) peer-reviewed publications; (ii) international conference presentations; (iii) a virtual curatorial project for public engagement and education, and (iv) teaching components for photography and visual culture/digital humanities courses.
Effective start/end date1/01/2230/06/24


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