Book Summary: Visual Methodologies by G Rose

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Chapter 1 starts with a brief survey of researching with visual materials.
The 1970’s showed a change in our understanding of social life. Culture was seen as a process. Production and exchange of meanings. We are reminded that we are surrounded by visual technologies. There are different views of the world, but people’s interpretations may vary. WWe see before we speak, so this is how we come to know the world.
It is assumed that in pre-modern society visual images were not especially important. Barbara Maria Stafford (1991) is a historian of science images, construction of scientific knowledges – the world has become more based on image rather than written texts.
Travel photography – people see images and want to visit those places. There may be link between images and language. There are so many types of images – satellite, manipulated, MRI etc. Pervasiveness of images – linked to amounts of digital storage and communication devices.
There are differences between analogue and digital images. Analogue – better correspondence for what they show. Conversions in digital can change images.
David Rodowick (2007) said that digital images should not be called photos. This raises an issue regarding reality, but we know that film images could also be unreal in some ways. There is a difference in signals between analogue and digital TV. Family photos taken digitally are similar in composition, but there are different ways to take and share them.
In anthropology and human geography – images are used as research tools. There was discussion about an interest in how images can make you feel something.
p12 Effects of visual images.
Images – social. Power relations can be shown, such as in war (loc. 626). How we see different races etc. How do we look at images? Are we the surveyor or surveyed? (loc 652).
Social differences, culture, social relations and social power can be depicted.
How different audiences see work. Display etc.
p15 – It is very unusual that we encounter work without any text – we usually have at least some information, for example in a gallery. This can make a difference to how we see it.
p16 – A critical approach to visual culture:
Takes images seriously
thinks about the social conditions and effects of visual objects
considers your own way of looking at images
p17 Visual imagery is never innocent. It is always constructed through various practices, technologies and knowledges.
p20 When we think about and look at images from the past – we need to consider what was available at the time. By 1948 cameras were light and film faster so people did not have to stand still for long periods. Snapshots were now possible.
p23 Documentary photography originally tended to picture poor, oppressed or marginalised individuals, often as part of reformist projects, to show the horror of their lives and thus inspire change. The aim was to be as objective and accurate as possible in these depictions. However, since the apparent horror was being shown to audiences who had the power to pressure for change, documentary photography usually pictures the relatively powerless to the relatively powerful. It has thus been accused of voyeurism and worse.
p38 Social practices of looking of spectating – look at images and creating other versions of them. Social identities of the spectators.
p48 has good information about how to use images for research.
p51 We need to take images seriously, look at them very carefully. Effects of the image – power.
p63 Paintings have different effects depending on perspective.
p77 Compositional interpretation – ways of describing content, colour, spatial organisation, mise-en—scene, montage, light and expressive. Content of various kinds of still and moving images.
p88-89 Content analysis – how to select images – random/stratified/systematic/cluster depending on results.
p101 Content analysis is a clear method for engaging systematically with large numbers of images.
p105 Semiology (semiotics). How images make meanings head on.
p108 Semiology assumes that these constructions of social difference are articulated through the working of signs of images themselves. Many studies concentrate on the image itself as the most important site of its meaning.
p109 These studies require extensive knowledge of the type of image the case studies will examine.
p149 Psychoanalysis and visuality. Freud suggests scopophilia – pea sure in looking – was one of the basic drives with which all (sighted) children are born, and the visual is especially important in the work of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan.
p150 Different psychoanalytic concepts brought to bear on the same image can produce very different interpretations of the same image.
p151 The power of images – the relationship people have with images. Why are we drawn to certain images?
p152 We are reminded that psychoanalysis deals with subjectivity, sexuality and the unconscious. Emotional reactions to images may be unconscious.
p190 Discourse – refers to groups of statements that structure the way a thing is thought, and the way we act on the basis of that thinking.
p193 Foucalt was concerned with how power works in institutions.
p230 Describes the Panopticon – this was invented by Jeremy Bentham in 1787. How to view people.
p261 How TV audiences make meaning from what they watched. People watched TV together and chatted with people the next day. Now we have more TV’s and the internet, changing our viewing habits.
p267 Describes the impact of media messages on the audience – things like violence. Fan bases – culture.
p293 Are images seen the same way on different screens, ipad vs large screen TV.
p297 Describes images made as part of a research project. Used actively – evidence. Photo-documentation, photo-elicitation, photo-essays. Doc – planned series of photos to document and analyse a particular visual phenomenon. Elicitation – participants take photos and discuss in an interview. Photo essay – a series of photos and possibly text to interpret a situation.
p301 Photo documentary assumes that photos are an accurate method. Systematic taking of photos – not used much.
p304 Elicitation – widely used. Photo Voice etc. There are lots of links to my own studies here, I completed some participatory projects in the past for my MA and for a project with a boys shelter in Vietnam. Time consuming.
p317 Photo essay – a combination of writing and photos. Could both be done by one person or 2 people, one doing the writing and one the photos. Evokes the senses. Analytical and evocative. Relationship between photos and text.
p334 Discusses ethics of both found and new photos. Consent. Using google street view. This made me think of Mishka Henner’s project using street view to show prostitutes. Copyright.

Rose, G. (2012). Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. (3rd ed). Sage. [ebook]

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