Paper Short Abstract:
This paper draws on recent work in anthropology and art theory to consider time as a social institution that frames engagements with images. Through cross-cultural examples, it explores the relationship between the fleeting images of modernity and identity making.
Paper long abstract:
This paper draws on recent work produced at the interface between anthropology and art theory to consider the significance of time as a social institution that frames engagements with images. A central concern of the paper is to tease out what has been identified as a key characteristic of late modernity: the idea that as fleeting digital images have become a dominant source of symbolic material through which we engage with each other and the world around us, a distinctive form of personhood has emerged. Drawing on cross-cultural materials I will explore some of the ways in which time structures the production and reception of different kinds of images in different contexts, producing what might be identified as distinctive cultures of looking and visuality. John Thompson's notion of mediated intimacy will be mobilised to ask what role might a more sustained visual engagement play in a society that places a great deal of value on new, instantly accessible, and changing images.
To echo a question posed by Paul Virilio, 'in an age when our view of the world has become not so much objective as tele-objective, how can we persist in being?' Does our digital appropriation of qualitatively different kinds of images reflect something more broadly about our engagements with each other and the world around us? How does this compare with Australian Aboriginal ways of apprehending images? What can anthropology contribute to the understanding of such circumstances?
Modalities, materialities and metamorphoses