Visual Sociology invites us to vision the world in the new ways, to examine and explore visual circles of conversations. This session invites papers from researchers who work in the broad field of Visual Sociology. This is an invitation to open up a space for dialogue, debate, and dissent, to showcase creative critical engagements with various topics the collection of visual data in the field (in archives, photo albums, media, art, websites etc.) the production of visual materials by the researcher (photography, videodocumentaries and material works) and participant created visualities (art, Photovoice, media) which engage at local and global levels. This session is an inclusive multidisciplinary discussion on how the visual has the potential to energize relationships across communities, make new connections and highlight ways of understanding visual sociology and visual research so that people can speak with one another, listen, learn, and see together. Tags: Visual Sociology
Organizer: Gloria Johnston, University of New Brunswick
The Emily Carr University of Art + Design was inaugurated in the Fall of 2017 in the area of False Creek Flats in Vancouver, BC. It is part of the broader wave of new "Integrated Urban Campuses" that flourish in contemporary metropolises (Mattei and Aust (eds.) 2015, Dang Vu, 2013). Architecturally ambitious, ecologically responsible, integrating increasingly innovative forms of knowledge (high-tech, art pairing) and raising issues relevant to our times (creative city, knowledge economy). Such campuses are also crossroads that, while offering researchers a new matrix to reflect upon urban development also cause controversy (especially related to the exclusion of the most vulnerable parts of society, and to the erasing of local history and memory). Integrated Urban Campusesthus highlight specific sociological issues that we wish to address in this presentation using a visual work of narrative re-photography* of such areas (Klett, 2011, Senf and Pyne, 2012)._ _Indeed, in order to analyze these social, spatial and memory issues, we implement an heuristic and reflective editing device that aims at unfolding the areas in order to recompose them virtually and temporally. In these montages we associate two visual sources: in situ photography and past representations obtained from the City of Vancouver Archives. We begin from the urban landscape that we photographand, by the collage of archive images*representing human and non-human entities (animals, objects, people, plants, buildings, etc.), we aim at highlighting these places by focusing on the generative potential of visual editing (Didi-Huberman, 2009, Warburg, 2012). How can a specific case – here the establishment of the Emily Carr campus and its effects on a neighborhood – exceed the mere illustration of a general discourse on the contemporary city? In what ways can the proposed singular re-photographic narrative contribute to shifting and enriching the way we look at urban gentrification and memory?_
Kristin Atwood, Independent
Academic scholars often struggle to identify methods by which research findings can be disseminated broadly to a public audience. One way of reaching a public audience is through the translation of academic findings into formats that are more regularly accessed by non-academics. One such format is live theatre productions. Live theatre offers a different structure through which key themes and findings can be expressed, and its narrative and relational characteristics make it an ideal forum for the articulation of nuanced and complex concepts, grounded in the demonstration of relatable experiences. However, moving from the style and structure of academic research and writing to that of theatrical production is not a straightforward process. There are a number of issues to consider, including privacy implications; narrative cohesion; the need to balance validity and data quality with the need for dramatic effect; and the necessary interpretation of meaning through non-text components including lighting, audio effects, costuming, and props. This presentation will recount the process of translating academic research on military families’ experiences of deployment into a documentary theatre performance. Ethical considerations will be describe alongside a description of the iterative re-writing process required to move from one form of to another without losing the original intent. Issues related to staging and technical design will be discussed and audience feedback to workshop performances of “Calling Home: Stories from Military Families” will be used to assess the effectiveness of knowledge _translation_ and knowledge _dissemination_ through live theatre as a medium. Implications for future work will be explored, both in terms of research-based theatre projects where staged performances are intended from the outset and in terms of academic works, like this one, where theatrical presentation represents a subsequent stage of analysis and interpretation, building on more scholarly works.
Anne-Marie Laurel Bresee, McMaster University
Cemeteries are a municipal service. Defined by the primary function of burial site, cemeteries are also a geographic space of internment, contemplation and recreation as well as a space of emotion, commerce and community. Graveyard photography can be powerful and compelling in capturing the cultural beliefs portrayed in the artistry of headstones and sculptures as well as exposed in the behavior of those visiting the cemetery. Dark tourism is not new. When Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery was first built in 1872, it was intended to be a tourist destination. To document the complex attraction of this geographic space, I organized a project, involving five people plus myself, to photograph the cemetery activity on a typical Saturday afternoon in spring 2018. Surprisingly, group members viewed taking images of unidentified people as an invasion of privacy, and refused to take images of people using Mount Pleasant as a mourning space, recreational space or a tourist attraction. Those images were left for me to take. There were no concerns, however, in photographing grave markers which, although privately commissioned, were perceived as public monuments. The tombstones detailed dates of birth and death as well as life experience: religious beliefs, social class, and the intersection of social roles, such as mother, daughter and wife. In honoring the lived experienced, the memorial monuments make the public statement that this loss was important to family. However, it is the spectator’s past events that become significant in the present interpretation of the epitaphs. Such interpretations reflect the interplay between rationality and emotion regarding the dialectics between the past and the present. Through art, it is possible to gain new insight into the collective past. The project also provides insight as to how the archival process itself includes, discards, exhibits and even reshapes recollections and impressions.
Catherine Holtmann, University of New Brunswick
It is quite possible that one would find more smartphones than sacred texts at the worship services of just about every religious tradition. This Interfaith Photovoice project taps into these digital realities to explore the daily experiences and challenges of being a person of faith in Fredericton, New Brunswick. During the fall term of 2018, a group of Muslim and Christian university students and young adults met regularly to discuss ideas about religion and to learn about each other’s religious identities. They used used mobile phone photography as a medium of exploration and conversation. The project aims to break down stereotypes about religious students and misconceptions about Muslims in order to promote better understanding and respect for diversity. The 39 photos were exhibited at the UNB Art Galleries from November 16 to December 14, 2018 and many will be featured at the Fredericton Public Library gallery in February 2019 as part of World Interfaith Harmony Week. The exhibitions engage audiences beyond the photovoice group by presenting participants’ experiences, insights, and concerns through their photographs. This exhibition is part of a larger project led by Dr. Roman Williams, a visual sociologist at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The _Interfaith Photovoice Initiative: Amplifying Voices through Photography, Interfaith Dialogue, and Immigrant Advocacy_ is an international study taking place in four sites: Virginia, Michigan, and New York in the United States and in New Brunswick, Canada. The project is funded by the Louisville Institute. In each location, the project is facilitated in partnership with local academic and religious leaders.
Laura Marie Fenton, University of Manchester
This paper addresses the auto-poetic quality of research photographs, and situates them within the wider push in Sociology to engage the visual as a means of revitalising the discipline. It draws on my experience of using visual methods in my PhD research on the place of alcohol in women’s everyday lives in the United Kingdom. In addition to photo and object elicitation – techniques I had planned on using in advance -- over the course of fieldwork I also began photographing participants’ kitchens. These photographs unexpectedly became a way into unpacking the complexities surrounding contemporary negotiations of moderation and excess in day-to-day life. The paper argues that as visual field notes research photographs can serve as a way into several of the empirical, conceptual and methodological issues encountered in research, and offer a productive starting point for unravelling themes and tensions emerging in the verbal accounts offered by participants. The paper further argues that their auto-poetic potential requires closer consideration.