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Conference: The Versatile Image: Photography in the Era of Web 2.0

Call for Papers: The Versatile Image 24-26 June 2011, University of Sunderland. 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 of Web 2.0, 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.
Cutting across disciplinary borders, we welcome papers from researchers, visual artists and curators working in the areas of art history, visual culture studies, museology, media studies, visual anthropology and sociology that may reflect upon the following questions:
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?

How are issues of objectivity, subjectivity, authenticity and originality relating to 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?

All papers will be considered for publication.
Please send abstracts of ca. 250 words for twenty-minute papers to with the indication ‘The Versatile Image’ by 30 November 2010. For further information you may visit the conference website at /.

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