Images today are everywhere, and anyone can try their hand at being a documentary photographer. But how do we make sense of this visual revolution in the long history of using visuals to communicate? Recently, historians and social scientists have begun to situate themselves at the intersection of visual and material studies. In particular, research has focused on the fact that images themselves have a history, or social biography. Images are reproduced, circulated, and consumed in ways that could not be predicted at the time of their original production.
Images are included and inscribed in different contexts; they move from cameras, canvas, papers to albums, plaques, museums, frames, boxes, walls, cards, books, journals, popular magazines, catalogues, pamphlets, and almost any imaginable surface, including the screens that are deployed by digital and social media. The material and social history of photography suggests that images should be analyzed as social objects. This involves approaching them from two interconnected research perspectives, focusing on both their material and their social-relational qualities. Visual technologies as material practices imply an impetus for reproduction and dissemination where images assume a hermeneutical role based on their physicality and presentational form (e.g. print size, cropping and enlarging, image configuration and order, combinations of images and texts, paper and print quality, etc.). Images are reproducible and mobile objects that never cease to reach out to audiences and gather a large variety of intertwined relationships and meanings over time. The material and social qualities of images are therefore inseparable; both refer to processes of meaning-making in chains of reproduction, remediation, and re-contextualization, with images assuming active roles as connectors and communicators.
Considering the social-material quality of images therefore raises questions about intermedia relationships, the life and death of images, technologies of reproduction, hybrid media, and media and humans as meaning-making collectives in the digital age. It also stimulates reflection on what has been inscribed by whom, when, and where in the (digital) archive, and how a particular visual memory has been produced, defied, challenged, and transformed.
The aim of the book series is to initiate and encourage debates and scholarly exchanges on images and films as complex material and social objects in the humanities and social sciences. This objective will be achieved by regarding images as objects to think with, by problematizing them as signs or traces of complex entanglements with both the past and the present.
The book series will be peer reviewed.
- Karin Priem, Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg
- Tim Allender, University of Sydney, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
- Inés Dussel, Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute, Cinvestav, Mexico City
- Ian Grosvenor, University of Birmingham, School of Education
- Cathy Burke,University of Cambridge, UK
- Richard Clay, University of Newcastle, UK
- Marc Depaepe, KU Leuven, Belgium
- Robert Hariman, Northwestern University, USA
- Frederik Herman, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Solothurn, Switzerland
- Sylvain Lesage, University of Lille, France
- Fred Ritchin, International Center of Photography (ICP), New York, USA
- Valérie Schafer, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
- Frank Simon, Ghent University, Belgium
Volumes planned in 2019 and 2020
Giovanna Hendel, Carole Naggar & Karin Priem (eds.). They Did not Stop at Eboli: The UNESCO Campaign Against Illiteracy in Reportages by David Seymour and Carlo Levi (1950).
Allender, Tim, Inés Dussel, Ian Grosvenor & Karin Priem (eds). The Visual in Educational History: Reflections on the Practice of History in the Digital Age.
Francisca Comas Rubí, Karin Priem and Sara Gonzalez (eds.): Photography and Educational Practice.