Accepted paper:

Developer visions for wearable camera technology: A focus on the visual construction of the social field


Asko Lehmuskallio (University of Tampere)

Paper short abstract:

This paper argues that we need to consider the visual construction of the social field in order to understand changes brought by digital camera technologies. This is discussed by focusing on developer visions for wearable camera technology, as well as on how these visions get material form.

Paper long abstract:

The study of visual culture, from a social scientific perspective, tends to focus on the social construction of the visual field, but as Mitchell urges, we need to explore as well "the chiastic reversal of this proposition, the visual construction of the social field." (2012: 171) For digital photography, this chiastic reversal entails focusing also on the variety of artefacts, such as camera devices, software, algorithms, and visualization techniques that are used for organizing and exploring our social arrangements. They provide a nexus through which we relate to each other and to the environments we inhabit.

Digital camera technology, if used for conventional "film-like photography", or mainly as a sensor among others for measuring the environment, provides different stakeholders a variety of affordances that are activated in particular, meaningful ways. This paper discusses, with selected examples, visions that developers of wearable camera technology have for its uses. By paying attention to how particular visions get material form, we get a sense for this visual construction of the social field. Since camera technologies are used by humans, they can activate these constructions in possibly unforeseen ways.

panel P25
Photography, new technologies and the predicament of the frame: theoretical and methodological reflections