Tesis-Antítesis

octubre 18, 2011

Imágenes revueltas: los contextos de la fotografía digital (paper)

Filed under: Noticias,Reflexiones fotográficas,Reseñas,Sociología visual,Textos completos — Edgar Gómez Cruz @ 10:12 am

Junto con Elisenda Ardèvol Piera, acabamos de publicar un texto en el monográfico sobre Fotografia i alteritats de los Quaderns-e del Institut Català d`antropologia coordinado por Nadja Monnet y Enrique Santamaría.

El resumen a continuación y aquí el texto completo:

Este artículo pretende reflexionar sobre las posibilidades que abre Internet para el estudio de la cultura visual contemporánea a la vez que plantea una serie de cuestiones teóricas, éticas y metodológicas sobre la fotografía digital y su uso para la investigación antropológica. Internet puede considerarse actualmente como uno de los mayores archivos de fotografía o como un banco de imágenes inmenso al cual podemos acceder instantáneamente desde cualquier buscador. Sin embargo, esta perspectiva supone la descontextualización de las imágenes, que aparecen así de un modo revuelto; alteradas.

febrero 9, 2011

“Cibersexo” (visual) revisitado

Dos cosas sucedieron para hacerme escribir este post. Por un lado una estudiante de Colombia me hizo una entrevista interesada en mi trabajo de investigación sobre cibersexo. Por otro, que me topé con el interesante texto de Ori Schwarz: Going to bed with a camera: On the visualization of sexuality and the production of knowledge.

La trayectoria de Internet ha sido claramente de un medio textual a uno multimedia (o multimodal como apuntan algunos autores). La digitalización de los procesos, la convergencia y la masificación de aparatos de producción audiovisual, junto con el crecimiento en la(s) conexión(es) a Internet, ha dado como resultado que nunca en la historia de la humanidad se hayan producido tantas imágenes como ahora y nunca hayan podido ser vistas por tantas personas. Hasta ahí todo más o menos en el sentido común, ahora bien ¿cuál es la relación entre estas transformaciones y el ámbito de la sexualidad y la intimidad?
Schwarz traza un breve análisis histórico y propone que la relación entre visualidad y sexualidad es relativamente reciente. Por ejemplo, siguiendo a otros autores menciona que en el siglo XVIII la idea de la sexualidad estaba más relacionada con el tacto que con la visualidad y las relaciones solían llevarse a cabo en la oscuridad e incluso con alguna ropa puesta. De ahí reflexiona cómo la visualidad, de la mano de corrientes psicológicas, la publicidad, los medios y la “espectacularización” han hecho de la sexualidad una cuestión mayoritariamente visual especialmente con la pornografía como industria y como objeto. (more…)

agosto 3, 2010

Cultura digital (coda a la editorial)

Debo reconocer que, en lo que se refiere a las actividades que uno tiene realizar como parte del trabajo de investigador(a), en estricto orden jerárquico; para mi primero está la investigación, luego la docencia y, muy por detrás, lo que se suele llamar la “gestión”. Suelo involucrarme poco en iniciativas que tenga que organizar yo. No es por nada, simplemente hay personas que lo hacen mucho mejor que yo. Ahora bien, hay algunas iniciativas que no sólo me interesan sino que me apasionan y que hago con agrado. Justamente acaba de salir a la luz el resultado de una de ellas, un monográfico sobre Cultura Digital.

Las labores de gestión, más las editoriales, cuando dependen de instancias con cambios frecuentes (comités editoriales, presidencias, organismos políticos, etc.), suelen ser complicadas. Después de varios periplos, y,más tiempo del necesario,  ya está en línea el número especial sobre Cultura Digital que preparamos con mucho cariño (y no menos sufrimiento). Mientras que mi compañera en esta andanza está, como una Marco Polo moderna, dando charlas en China, debo reconocerle públicamente que gracias a ella esto fue posible. Además de mi admiración y afecto infinito, debo agradecerle haber puesto a andar sus maravillosas redes que hicieron posible que este número tenga a gente tan reconocida, innovadora y retadora, en el mejor de los sentidos. Muchos de los que aquí escriben, como la misma Tiscar, no sólo son académicos que cada día crecen  (y hacen crecer este campo) un paso más, son también grandes amigos y personas que enarbolan la idea de una ciencia abierta, libre y compartida. Ideas con las que comulgamos plenamente. Vayan también para ellos: mis disculpas por el retraso y las complicaciones, y mi agradecimiento por su valiosa contribución.

Martin Hand dice que “las culturas digitales deben ser “hechas”, y esto implica esfuerzos constantes para forzar el que se junten elementos dispares en un esquema coherente dentro de determinados límites, dados históricamente” (2008, P. 7). Este es quizá uno de los objetivos de este número, que incluso podría leerse como político; pretende no sólo “describir” la cultura digital, sino proponer versiones de ésta.

abril 22, 2010

Photography and “realism”

A few months ago, I read Fred Ritchin´s book : “After Photography” of (I wrote a post about it). In that book, Ritchin was interested on the possibilities that digital technology could bring into photojournalism. He set the example of a project he did with photographer; in this project, they put the photos of the second “in context”, meaning that they told the story of how each photo was taken, linked with each other to give more information about the images.
A couple of days ago, I saw Standard Operating Procedure, a magnificent  documentary of the filmmaker Errol Morris (which by the way you can see it online), the film is an amazingly well done account of the history of the torture photos of Abu Ghraib. It takes, somehow, Ritchin´s premise about the possibilities of digital photography, since the people who are the main characters in the documentary, are precisely the people who made the photos. While the film is just good enough as a documentary, my point is about the discussion between realism and digital photography. In the 90´s, there were several voices talking about how digital technology will end forever the accurate representation of reality that was one of the main characteristics of photography. Some talked about “post-photography”, and some even said “photography was dead“. Although the debate seem less important in the current agenda on photography, at the same time, the pervasiveness and wide use of photography had opened new paths for “realism”.

Susan Sontag, one of the main contemporary thinkers on photography,  wrote a text about these photos that begins with the statement: “Photographs have an insuperable power to determine what we recall of events”, therefore, she continues: Abu Ghraib´s photos were going to be what people will recall of Iraq war.  Since: “the horror of what is shown in the photographs cannot be separated from the horror that the photographs were taken”, it becomes very relevant the fact that the photos were not shoot by professional photo-journalism but the actual soldiers in charge of the prison that were doing snapshots of their everyday life. Morris documentary takes us to the “context” of how, when, and why those photos were taken. In front of the “dead of realism”, announced by several “thinkers”, the snapshots of the digital era reminds us that reality will probably be still photographed. I’ll keep a quote of the military researcher of the photos: “Photographs are what they are. You can interpret them differently, but what the photograph depicts is what it is”

septiembre 30, 2009

Simulation and Its Discontents

Filed under: English,Oxford,Reseñas,TICs — Edgar Gómez Cruz @ 5:31 pm

In his talk at the Leeds Visual Methods Conference, Marcus Banks talked about what he called “slow research” and criticize the way “research timing” was dictated by grants, projects, publications and so forth. The book of Turkle, that I just read,  would not be possible to be written for a single, fixed time. It required maturation, long weaving and time to be “cooked”.

Simulation and its discontents is an empirical, anecdotic and, I would even say “cute” history of the implementation of simulation technologies at the MIT (which is in many ways the “lab” of the cutting edge technology use in education). She talks about architects, civil engineers, physicist and chemists and how, in their different fields, they have developed an understanding, relationship and use of simulation technologies. Nevertheless, Turkle’s thoughts could be expanded to almost all technologies in knowing practices and it will definitely be interesting that some of the big gurus that are always talking about the new gadget, tool or platform, read this book and their own writing in a critical way. I found the book fascinating not only for what it shows me but for what it made me think about our own practices. I don´t think about me as be part of that group of  “2.0 cool scientists” but I can´t help sometimes be myself and apologist of technologies. And mostly, I can´t imagine my own research without using so many of them. Turkle says: “The more powerful our tools become, the harder it is to imagine the world without them” (p. 8).  So, she suggests that: “Professional life requires that one live with the tension of using technology and remembering to distrust it. (p. 10) and it seems that we have forgotten this quite often. At least it seems to me that we´re trying to catch the trendiest wave and be the first to name it (3.0, 4.0, 5.0, who gives more?) instead of stepping on the break and think about the use of current technologies and their possible “collateral damage” to our knowledge practices.

Turke, without these words, talks about the “engineering” of our tools and how we learn to trust them (very close to Labour’s work actually): “Students had no choice but to trust the simulations, which meant they had to trust the programmers who wrote the simulations. (p. 18). She interestingly gets to the same point all over her work (remember life on the screen and the Disneyland crocodiles?):

“Screen versions of reality will always leave something out, yet screen versions of reality may come to seem like reality itself. We accept them because they are compelling and present themselves as expressions of our most up- to-date tools. We accept them because we have them. They become practical because they are available. So, even when we have reason to doubt that screen realities are true, we are tempted to use them all the same.” (p. 17)

Great and easy reading that starts with a question and ends with an answer:

“We began with a question inspired by Louis I. Kahn: “What does simulation want?” We have seen what simulation seems to want— through our immersion, to propose itself as proxy for the real. (p. 80)

septiembre 23, 2009

“Networked images”. A conversation with Anne Beaulieu and Sarah de Rijcke´s paper

I just finished the reading of the paper Mediated ethnography and the study of networked images — or how to study ‘networked realism’ as visual knowing of Anne Beaulieu and Sarah de Rijcke, that they presented at the Visual Methods Conference. What I would try to do now is to relate some of their thoughts with my own work in the spirit of exchange and share. I’ll do it in a personal and reflexive way more than to establish an academic critic of their work (which I found fascinating and useful).

The relationship between STS studies and research in cultural domains seems to be a difficult and  it has not been more explored (cfr. Couldry). In my own work I have tried to set a link between cultural production and the role of technology in its shaping. While there seems to be several works from STS that relate photography with technology (de Rijcke, Meyer), they all are settled in institutional and organizational environments. Therefore, the changing and shaping of image technology seem to be goal oriented since this use is framed by the institutions whose borders are relatively easy to trace. On the other hand, there is a huge corpus of research in photography as a cultural object. Not only related to the aesthetics but also many works that are interested in the circulation and “institutionalization” of those images, for example in the art field (Becker, Bourdieu). There is also a third corpus that reflects on the “impact” of new photographical technologies in the changing of society (for example how the Kodak Brownie camera created a new form of photography: the snapshot). My trouble is that these three fields are disconnected from each other and I need elements of the three of them to explain my fieldwork. The first (STS) is very aware of the mutual shaping between technologies and practices but lacks to incorporate the content, meaning and aesthetics of the images in their analysis. And also, they don’t seem to be interested in how people put their desires and tastes in the creation and circulation of those images. The second corpus (that we could call cultural circulation or social uses of photography) is concern precisely with these elements in order to understand the creation of visual elites and power, but seems to have a naive approach to technologies that make this possible. The third one (Social impact), is too technological deterministic and barely useful in an ethnography of the mediations.

With the emergence of digital technology, a greatest “networked complexity” is added to the equation. (more…)

septiembre 8, 2009

Presentación del libro: “Plan CEIBAL: los ojos del mundo en el primer modelo OLPC a escala nacional”

(parece que soy de los  últimos pero aquí va el copy-paste). Este martes en el marco de la  Feria Internacional del Libro de Montevideo, Roberto Balaguer presentará el libro: “Plan Ceibal: los ojos del mundo en el primer modelo OLPC a escala nacional”. Roberto, además de ser gran amigo, es un luchador incansable en el estudio de estos temas (además de ser quien me enseñó lo que “mexicanear” significa en Uruguay).  Este libro es una de sus iniciativas y reúne a académicos provenientes de diferentes países: Argentina, México, España, EEUUy por supuesto: Uruguay cuna del Plan Ceibal, el OLPC uruguayo. Es un placer y un honor compartir el índice con tantos, y tan queridos, colegas y amig@s.  

 invitacion.jpg

 El indice del libro:

 

1. Roberto Balaguer (Uruguay) “Plan Ceibal: Los ojos del mundo en el primer modelo OLPC a escala nacional”.

2. Fernando Garrido (España) “¿Otra vez el mismo error? OLPC, Determinismo Tecnológico y Educación”.

3. Edgar Gómez Cruz (México) “Domesticación de la Tecnología: una aproximación crítica al proyecto de OLPC”.

4. Tíscar Lara (España) “Aprender a ser ciudadano desde las prácticas digitales”.

5. Guillermo Lutzky (Argentina) “La Escuela Digital, un cambio obligatorio paralos modelos 1 a 1”.

6. Mónica BaezGraciela Rabajoli (Uruguay) “La escuela extendida. Impacto del Modelo CEIBAL”.

7. Alicia Kachinovsky (Uruguay) “La Universidad de la República en tiempos del Plan Ceibal”.

8. Octavio Islas (México) “Retos que representa la enseñanza en el imaginario de la “Generación Einstein”.

9. Cristóbal Cobo (México) “Aprendizaje de código abierto”.

10. Raúl Trejo Delarbre (México) “Un niño para cada laptop”.

11. John Moravec (EEUU) “¿Y ahora, qué?”.

12. Miguel Brechner (Uruguay) “Los Tres Si”.

septiembre 2, 2009

¿Se acerca la muerte de la Sociología?

Filed under: Conexiones,Notas,Reflexiones personales,Reseñas,Teóricas — Edgar Gómez Cruz @ 12:42 pm

Preocupado como me quedé desde las reflexiones del otro día, comentándolo con un profesor me pasó un texto titulado: The Coming Crisis of Empirical Sociology de Savage y Burrows (2007). En él, los autores plantean que “en la época del Capitalismo del conocimiento (Knowing Capitalism, concepto de Thrift, 2005), los sociólogos no han pensado adecuadamente los retos que se abren a su conocimiento debido a la proliferación de “datos de transacciones” que rutinariamente se recolecta, procesa y analiza por una gran cantidad de instituciones públicas y privadas”. El análisis parte de una anécdota en la que unos investigadores presentaban los resultados de un “gran” estudio empírico en el Reino Unido cuyos datos habían sido obtenidos por una encuesta postal, unas 900 respuestas. Uno de estos orgullosos investigadores, al hablar informalmente con otro, supo que el interlocutor contaba con todos los datos de todas las llamadas telefónicas que se habían hecho en el Reino Unido durante varios años. Millones y millones de datos:

Our concern is that in the years between about 1950 and 1990 sociologists could claim a series of distinctive methodological tools that allowed them to claim clear points of access to social relations, but in the early 21st century social data is now so routinely gathered and disseminated, and in such myriad ways, that the role of sociologists in generating data is now unclear. (p. 886) (perdón que no traduzca las citas pero tengo demasiado trabajo) (more…)

agosto 31, 2009

After photography?

“Once the world has been photographed. It is never again the same” (Fred Ritchin)

I just finished the book “After Photography” of Fred Ritchin. Somebody told me, about this book, that it was the “On photography” of the XXI century. Although I enjoyed it very much, I would say is more the “Being Digital” of photography. Ritchin, deeply knower of the photography insights, stands from the point of view of the mainstream photography, especially the photojournalism, and discusses the future possibilities of digital photography. Although an extraordinary book from the journalism point of view, and a serious commitment voice with the possibilities that digital photography could bring for the critical social media, it seems that his analysis lacks something which I think is the main force in the changing of the social meaning of photography: the people and their cameras in the everyday life.

Is not that he’s not aware of this, but he is more interested in the mainstream media and the “serious” photography. Even more, I felt that, at least in his book (I just started to follow his blog), he still talks like if photography was just one universal thing. This is one of the conclusions so far in my research, to think about “photography” doesn’t make sense anymore, even with the “traditional” labels (photojournalism, artistic, snapshot, etc.), and pushing it little further even genres are getting blurred (portrait, landscape, etc.). Photography is many things, not just one. He acknowledges this when he points:

The digital photography potentially will be so thoroughly linked to a multiplicity of media, both as recipient and producer, that communication of whatever kind becomes more important than the singularity of the photographic vision. The pixelated photograph’s ephemerality on the screen and its easy linkage, as well as the impression that it is just one communicating strategy amount many, reduce the individualized impact of the photograph as it appears on a piece of film or paper. Rather than as “photographers” for the most part these kinds of image-makers will be thought of simply as “communicators (p. 146) (more…)

agosto 18, 2009

Digital Photography and Picture Sharing: Redefining the Public/Private Divide

The text that Amparo Lasén and I started to work for Copenhagen´s AoIR last year is finally published. Thanks Amparo and thanks Larissa.

Here´s the Abstract

Digital photography is contributing to the renegotiation of the public and private divide and to the transformation of privacy and intimacy, especially with the convergence of digital cameras, mobile phones, and web sites. This convergence contributes to the redefinition of public and private and to the transformation of their boundaries, which have always been subject to historical and geographical change. Taking pictures or filming videos of strangers in public places and showing them in webs like Flickr or YouTube, or making self-portraits available to strangers in instant messenger, social network sites, or photo blogs are becoming a current practice for a growing number of Internet users. Both are examples of the intertwining of online and offline practices, experiences, and meanings that challenge the traditional concepts of the public and the private. Uses of digital images play a role in the way people perform being a stranger and in the way they relate to strangers, online and offline. The mere claims about the privatization of the public space or the public disclosure of intimacy do not account for all these practices, situations, and attitudes, as they are not a simple translation of behaviors and codes from one realm to the other.

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