Accepted Paper:

Photodemic: the syndemic in images  
Rebeca Pardo (Universitat Internacional de Catalunya)

Paper short abstract:

The images of COVID-19 cover issues from the medical to the social through the economic. The iconography of this phenomenon is far from the “Epidemic Photography”. We propose to use the term “Photodemia” in order to cover all the complexity of this syndemic whose analysis and study is complex.

Paper long abstract:

Technology and social networks keep the population informed, connected, safe and even working during COVID-19 for the first time in a health crisis like this. The term “infodemic” refers to the overabundance of information that has generated misinformation and stigmatization.

Images have filled social networks, the mass media, the Apps... Visual communication and co-presence have reached new horizons. We have seen thousands of images but the iconography of the COVID-19 is far from the “Epidemic Photography” (Lynteris, 2016). Maybe “Syndemic Photography” will be more appropriated following the experts that refer to COVID-19 as a Syndemic (Singer, 2009) with serious effects in the social context.

It is difficult to distinguish the images of health from those related to work or socialization. From the experience in these years of visual digital ethnography: most illnesses have social, economic and personal effects that transcend medical issues. This only has been made visible when the patients and caregivers have conquered the capacity (agency) to represent themselves in public space. The contemporary imaginary of illness, disease or malady has much more to do with the visibility of synergistic disease or synergistic health than with old medical photographs.

I propose the term “Photodemic” (Pardo, 2020) to refer to the question of images of this syndemic that is probably more viral than “infodemic” and more difficult to identify and study. The methodologies applied to the texts, that allow the systematization of the analysis of words and speeches, are not yet applicable to the storytelling through images.

Panel P13
Our pandemic lives: photographing the pandemic
  Session 1